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More or Less Christmas quiz 2009

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Welcome to the More or Less Christmas Quiz 2009. Have you been a loyal listener to the programme or a fickle follower? Test your knowledge of some of the strange statistical facts More or Less unearthed in 2009.

Tim in a Santa hat

1.) 1: A-levels examined

On 21 August we looked at A Level results. Back in 1986, 10% of maths students achieved an A grade at A Level. What percentage of maths students received A grades this year?

tudents at Brighton College celebrate their A level results
  1. 45.2%
  2. 10%
  3. 30%
  4. 26.4%

2.) 2: Forecasting football

On 22 May, we asked Professor David Speigelhalter to work out the most likely results of the final 10 games of the British football Premiership. How many did he get right?

Arsenal's Denilson (R) competes with Liverpool's Lucas Leiva
  1. 10
  2. 3
  3. 6
  4. 9

2:Forecasting football

How did he do it? He looked at past performance over the 2009 season to give each team an attack and a defence strength. He then used some probability theory to estimate the number of goals each side would score. Can it really be that easy to clean out the bookies?

Chelsea's Ivanovic looks on as the ball goes into the net and Everton score

3.) 3: Revenge of the nerds

On 11 September we spoke to Hal Varian, the chief economist at Google, who told us that studying statistics is the way to get ahead. What did Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates study at Harvard?

Bill Gates
  1. Statistics
  2. Computer Science
  3. Law
  4. Maths

4.) 4: Fluconomics

On 21 August we looked at the data on swine flu. For the week commencing 3 August the HPA estimated some 25,000 cases of swine flu in England. How many of those cases were confirmed by lab tests?

A man sneezing
  1. 14,746
  2. 396
  3. 41
  4. None

5.) 5: A paler shade of light?

On 11 December we looked into energy-efficient light bulbs. Light bulb packaging will soon display not only a bulb's wattage but also its brightness measured in which units?

An incandescent bulb
  1. Dazzles
  2. Brilliants
  3. Candles
  4. Lumens

6.) 6: Maths in music

On 8 May we looked for mathematical errors in popular music and found one celebrated singer had mis-sung pi. Who?

Englerbert Humperdinck, Mariah Carey, Kate Bush and Diana Ross
  1. Engelbert Humperdinck
  2. Mariah Carey
  3. Kate Bush
  4. Diana Ross

7: Counting the Kilowatts

On 24 April we spoke to Professor David MacKay, author of 'Sustainable Energy - without the hot air'. Professor MacKay has worked out how much energy Britain uses - and how much we could generate without burning fossil fuels.

A wind farm at sunset near Thurso, Scotland

7.) 7: Counting the Kilowatts

According to his calculations, how much of Britain would need to be covered with wind turbines to meet the country's current energy consumption using wind alone?

A wind farm in the South Pennines, Rochdale
  1. 11%
  2. 25%
  3. 50%
  4. 100%

8.) 8: Count von Count

On 11 December we interviewed Count von Count from Sesame Street. What is his favourite number?

The Count von Count from Sesame Street
  1. 34,969
  2. 3
  3. 187
  4. 8,888

9.) 9: Punching below our weight?

On 22 May we looked at the European electoral system. Which EU country has the most powerful voters?

European flags
  1. Luxembourg
  2. Britain
  3. Germany
  4. Ireland

10.) 10: Understanding rape statistics

On 28 August we looked at the conviction rate for rape in England and Wales. What is it?

Model posing as a rape victim
  1. 6.5%
  2. 47%
  3. 2.9%
  4. 13.2%

10: Understanding rape statistics

6.5% of alleged rapes that are reported to and recorded by the police end in someone being found guilty. But the conviction rate for all other crimes is measured as the proportion of people tried in court who are found guilty. If one calculates the rape conviction rate in that way it is 47%.

Model posing as a rape victim


  1. Until 1987 A Level results were relative. The top 10% got an A, the bottom 30% failed. Now A Levels are marked against an objective measure and, this year, a whopping 45.2% of maths students achieved the highest grade. 
  2. Professor Speigelhalter's model was astonishingly successful. He got nine out of ten results right.
  3. Bill Gates' father was a lawyer. Gates Jnr was on his way to becoming one himself when he dropped out to focus on his new business. A good move, as it turned out.
  4. By 3 August patients in England with flu-like symptoms were told to call the National Pandemic Flu Service instead of seeing the doctor. A sample of people prescribed Tamiflu by the NPFS were sent do-it-yourself tester kits which they were asked to return. In the week commencing 3 August, 481 patients returned their kits. Of those 41 - or 8.5% - were positive. 
  5. A watt is a measure of power used. But a lumen is a measure of light output. Light bulb packaging will soon display lumens more prominently than watts, because experts say that will make it easier for consumers to choose lamps of the right brightness.
  6. Kate Bush. Starting at the 51st decimal place, Kate sang 58231, but the true expansion of Pi is 58209.
  7. To meet Britain's total energy needs today using wind alone would take around 600,000 wind turbines, covering more than 50% of the country's land surface area.
  8. It's 34,969. We have no idea why. Although the Count did say "it's a square root thing". And 187 is the square root of 34,969.
  9. The EU uses a system of 'digressive proportionality' to increase the weight of its smallest members in the European Parliament. That's why Luxembourg has six MEPs, each of whom represents fewer voters than MEPs in any other EU state.
  10. Officially, the answer is 6.5%. But the conviction rate is 47%. Click next to read more.

How did you do?

0 - 2 : A rubbish performance - Oscar the Grouch

3 - 5 : On a sugar low - Cookie Monster

6 - 8 : Enthusiastic with lots of potential - Elmo

9 - 10 : Congratulations! You're the Count... AH AH AH!

BBC Radio 4's More or Less is broadcast on Fridays at 1330 GMT and repeated on Sundays at 2000 GMT.

If you've enjoyed this why not try the Money Box quiz. Pit your wits against those of presenter Paul Lewis and his colleagues.

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