20 years ago

April 3, 2008

Twenty university and polytechnic libraries answered fewer than two of three simple questions correctly, an investigation into how institutions deal with telephone inquiries has found. The test showed no significant differences between universities and polytechnics.

"What is the boiling point of ethanol?" and "Was Professor Frederick Sanger the last Briton to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry?" elicited the most correct replies, and "Who is the Secretary of State for Transport?" and "What is the source of the quotation 'The innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time'?" the least.

"Sir, You were wrong to draw a parallel between US-Soviet détente and relations between Star Fleet and the Klingons. The uneasy futuristic truce was imposed by the all-powerful Organians who forcibly disarmed the two sides as war seemed imminent (as shown in the episode Errand of Mercy). Unfortunately, the United Nations has been a less potent force on 20th-century earth." Letter from Colin Hewson.

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