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Saturday 27th August 2016
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Why is alarm clock snooze 9 mins? Mystery Hour

James-O'Brien-2Thursdays 12-1pm

Every week, James O'Brien enlists the help of LBC listeners to solve the questions you've always wondered the answer to.

It's all about shared human knowledge. Call up with a question and then another listener around the country will know the answer.

But we're strict - no repetition and no dullness (so leave the motoring questions out!). If it's something that most of the audience would say "yes, I've wondered about that", then we want to hear from you.


Browse the archive by subject:
Animals & Nature Culture Human Body Science & Technology
Sport & Games Words Random  

Top Ten Most Read Questions
1) What is the small pocket on jeans?
2) Why do all crisps expire on a Saturday?
3) Does the Queen have a passport?
4) Why do flammable and inflammable mean the same thing?
5) Why do women and men take jumpers off differently?
6) Why don't plane engines have wire mesh in front?
7) Why are cowards referred to as 'chickens'?
8) Why do pub TVs have a pint glass in the corner?
9) What is the semi-circle on the edge of the penalty area?
10) What is Mufti in Mufti Day?

This Week on Mystery Hour


Why is snooze on an alarm clock nine minutes?

On an electric alarm clock, why does it give you a nine-minute delay before it goes off, as opposed to 10-minutes or another number?
Category: Science and Technology
kew bridge

What are the bulletholes on Kew Bridge?

On the side of Kew Bridge, I noticed what appeared to be a row of about 12 bulletholes. What are they?
Category: Culture

Why don't chocolate chips melt in cookies?

Why don't chocolate chips melt when they’re put in chocolate chip cookies? They stay as a solid form.
Category: Science and Technology
lightening small

When lightning hits the sea, do fish get electrocuted?

When lightning hits the sea, why don’t fish get electrocuted?
Category: Animals and Nature

Why don't black people get goosebumps?

Why do white people get goosebumps, when black people don't?
Category: Human body

Would the Titanic have sunk if it didn't try to avoid the iceberg?

If the Titanic had gone straight into the iceberg instead of trying to go around it, would it still have sunk?
Category: Random
runners lane

Why do runners get a second wind?

When someone has run a lot, people say they get a second wind. Is the second wind something physical?
Category: Human body

Why do amps make guitar notes go on forever?

A guitar string with no amp stops vibrating quickly, but with an amp, it continues forever. Why?
Category: Science and Technology

What is the number on the end of sugar packets?

In paper tubes of sugar, on the ridged piece of paper, there is a number from 1-20 . What does the number mean?
Category: Science and Technology

Unanswered Questions


If you commit a crime in space, would you get arrested?

Can you commit an offence in space? If you do, who would prosecute you?
Category: Culture
knife small

Why do words have silent letters?

Why do words have silent letters in front of them – like knife or gnat? What is the point of them?
Category: Words

Do you weigh the same holding food as after eating it?

If you hold a sandwich and weigh yourself, then eat the sandwich and weigh yourself, would you weigh the same?
Category: Human body
beauty icons

What are beauty spots?

Why do you get beauty spots? They look different to moles.
Category: Human body

What speed do a bee's wings go?

When a bumble bee flies, what speed does his wings go? They say it breaks the laws of physics for a bee to fly.
Category: Animals and Nature


This Week on Mystery Hour


Why do flammable and inflammible mean the same?

Why do flammable and inflammible mean the same whereas appropriate and inappropriate are opposite?



Why are cowards referred to as 'chickens'?

Why do we refer to people who are acting cowardly as 'chickens'?





Where does the superstition around Friday 13th come from?

Why is this day so unlucky? What sparked this superstition?




Why do all the planets rotate the same way around the sun?

Why do some of the planets not go in the opposite direction?




Why is one side of the road even numbers and the other odd?


Why don't they go up one side and then the other? Why is one side all odd and the other even?



Why do wild animals not get stung by nettles?

Why do you see birds and squirrels in nettle bushes? Do they not get stung by them?



Unanswered Questions: Can You Help?


What is the oldest existing state?

Which nation has had the same name for the longest? Do you have the answer?



 prince charles

What will Prince Charles be called if/when he becomes King?

Will he be King Charles or King George? Why?



Recently on Mystery Hour


Does bottled water go off?

Does bottled water go off? My step-daughter says it does, but I don't agree.
Category: Science and Technology flowers

What’s the difference between a flower and a weed?

What’s the difference between a flower and a weed? Surely they both flower.
Category: Animals and Nature bendy bus

Why do we get ON a bus, but IN a car?

Why do we get ON a bus, but IN a car? Why don't we get on a car like everything else?
Category: Words football.jpg

Why do we put our head in our hands?

When there is a near-miss when playing sport, why do we put our face in our heads?
Category: Sport and Games plane.jpg

Why don't plane engines have wire mesh in front?

If planes crash when birds fly into the engines, why don't they put a wire mesh over the engine? Osama Bin Laden

What's the difference between murder and killing?

One from my 5-year-old after hearing about Bin Laden: What's the difference between being murdered and being killed?
Category: Culture viaduct

Do viaducts get heavier when boats go over them?

If you’re going over a bridge in a canal boat, does the bridge carry any extra weight from the boat?
Category: Science and Technology spidersweb2.jpg

Why don't we harvest spiders' webs for use?

I heard that webs from spiders are stronger and lighter than steel. So why don't we harvest it for use?
Category: Animals and Nature porthole

Why are windows on boats always round?

Why are the windows of a ship always round? And why are they called portholes?
Category: Science and Technology soho

What do the signs "Ancient Lights" mean?

Above the old alleyways of Soho, you can see old signs saying "Ancient Lights". What do they mean?
Category: Culture football

What is the semi-circle on the edge of the penalty area?

In football, what is the purpose of the semi-circle on the edge of the penalty box?
Category: Sport and Games war-map.jpg

What happens to ambassadors when war is declared?

What happens to diplomats when we declare war? In World War II, what happened to the German diplomats?
Category: Culture doctor with clipboard small

Why is "nursing" good, but "doctoring" bad?

Why is "nursing" something good, but "doctoring" something bad? You nurse someone to health, but doctor a document.
Category: Words water.jpg

Can you compress water?

Can you compress water? If you had an airtight box, would it be possible to compress the H2O?
Category: Science and Technology parkedcars.jpg

Why do you feel sick reading in cars?

When I'm travelling in a train or plane, I have no problems reading. So why can't I read in a car without feeling carsick?
Category: Human body Marks and Spencer

Why were M&S clothes branded St Michael?

When I was a little girl, I had Marks & Spencer vests and the label said St Michael. Why? Why not M&S?
Category: Culture Mandelson watch

Why is something 'The Real McCoy'?

When you go and buy your genuine Rolex watch, why is it the Real McCoy?
Category: Words tattoo

If human cells all regenerate, why don't tattoos vanish?

If human cells are all replaced every few years, how come tattoos stay exactly the same forever?
Category: Human body doctor.jpg

Why isn't a surgeon called doctor?

When a man qualifies to be a doctor, he titles himself Doctor. But when he gets a promotion to a surgeon or consultant, he reverts to Mister. Why?
Category: Culture smoke.jpg

Why don't cigarettes have use-by dates?

Why are there no use-by dates on packets of cigarettes?
Category: Culture blood-transfusion.jpg

Is one blood group better than others?

Is one blood group more superior than another? Is a group more efficient than any other?
Category: Human body cameron pmqs

Why do MPs keep standing up at PMQs?

At Prime Minister's Question Time, why do MPs keep standing up and sitting down without asking a question?
Category: Culture cruiseship-sml.jpg

When does a boat become a ship?

What's the difference between a boat and a ship? When does a boat become a ship?
Category: Culture crocodile

What is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?

What is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? Are they different breeds or different species?
Category: Animals and Nature cinema small

Can child actors go to premieres of their 18-certificate films?

Are child actors allowed to see the premieres of their films if it is a 15 or 18-rated film?
Category: Culture sea monkeys

What are Sea Monkeys and how do they survive?

What are Sea monkeys – those little dried shrimp-type organisms you can buy? How do they survive being dried?
Category: Animals and Nature plane.jpg

Why do clouds create turbulence?

On a plane last week, we suffered some severe turbulence when we went through clouds. Why do clouds create more turbulence?
Category: Science and Technology beer belly

Belly Buttons: Why do you have an innie or an outie?

What determines whether we have an innie or an outie belly button?
Category: Human body Fire Engine small

Does human spontaneous combustion ever happen?

In the newspapers, they reported "spontaneous human combustion". Has it ever actually happened, and if so, how and why?
Category: Human body horseracing.jpg

What is the "nap" in betting?

Every newspaper has a racing tipster, who recommends horses of the day and the top horse is the "nap". What does "nap" mean?
Category: Sport and Games coffin

Why do people "shuffle off this mortal coil"?

I often hear the phrase "before I shuffle off this mortal coil". Where does the word coil come from in this instance?
Category: Words bathroom

What are silverfish and can they drown?

We have silverfish - those tiny creatures that hang around in bathrooms. Where do they come from and can they drown?
Category: Animals and Nature sleep.jpg

Why don't snorers wake themselves up?

Why do snorers not wake themselves up when they snore? Most people can’t sleep when there is a great deal of ambient noise.
Category: Human body roof tunnel

How do brick roofs in tunnels stick?

When engineers built tunnels, they line the roof with bricks. How do they get them to stick up there before the cement dries?
Category: Science and Technology Wine and cheese thumb.jpg

Can I eat mould growing on cheese?

If cheddar cheese goes white with mould, I cut it off. But I eat Brie, which has mould in it anyway. So could I eat all cheese mould?
Category: Science and Technology shuttle.jpg

Why can't space shuttles use gravity for re-entry?

A space shuttle has to be at the right angle when they re-enter the atmosphere. Why can't they just drop down to Earth with gravity?
Category: Science and Technology eastereggs.jpg

Why does Good Friday move so much?

If Good Friday is the day Jesus died, why does Easter move around so much?
Category: Culture man writing small

Do identical twins have the same writing?

Would a pair of identical twins with the same DNA have the same handwriting?
Category: Human body roadworks-thumb.jpg

Why are roads "metalled"?

Why is a newly surfaced road said to be metalled, when it's made of asphalt?
Category: Words money.jpg

Why are people with no money "borasic"?

I sometimes hear older people from London, when they have no money, they say they are "borasic"?
Category: Words asleep-alarm-clock.jpg

What do deaf people use for alarm clocks?

What do deaf people use as an alarm? How do they have alarm clocks or smoke alarms?
Category: Culture elephant

Are elephants really scared of mice?

Is it true elephants are scared of mice and if so, why?
Category: Animals and Nature lemming.jpg

Do lemmings really run off cliffs in groups?

Do lemmings actually run off cliffs in huge numbers?
Category: Animals and Nature ear.jpg

What causes ringing in my ears?

Occasionally, I get a ringing noise in my ear. What is it that causes that?
Category: Human body guns.jpg

Could a bullet fired into the air kill you?

When the rebels in Libya fire guns directly into the air, what happens to the bullet? Could it kill you?
Category: Science and Technology money.jpg

Who gets the money when companies are fined?

When big corporations like banks or insurance companies get hit by corporate fines, where does the money go?
Category: Random whisper.jpg

Why can my wife not whisper?

Why can my wife not whisper? What is it that allows you to whisper?
Category: Human body chess

Where did the game Chess come from?

What are the origins of the game chess? Where did it come from and who invented it?
Category: Sport and Games postman-nick-ferrari-sml.jpg

How is postage money shared abroad?

I send a lot of packages abroad. How does the postage money I spend on the parcels get sent to Austria?
Category: Culture haiti earthquake

Did the other side of the Pacific Plate also shift?

We're told the Pacific plate shifted 8', so why hasn't the other side of the plate also moved that much?
Category: Animals and Nature guide-dog.jpg

Why can't animals learn to cross the road?

Why do animals have no sense of judgement when crossing the road? They always seem to run into the road at the wrong time.
Category: Animals and Nature shampoo.jpg

Why do toiletries contain Aqua instead of Water?

In toiletries, they list the primary ingredient as Aqua. Why don’t they write water?
Category: Words Bay of Islands Thumb

How much water around an island do you own?

If I win £68million on the lottery this weekend and I decide to buy an island, how much of the water around the island would I own?
Category: Culture policeman.jpg

Why do we call policemen 'coppers'?

Why do we call policemen 'coppers'? I can't think why…
Category: Words popcorn

What's the mark-up on cinema popcorn?

What is the mark-up on cinema popcorn? Surely it's really cheap to make, but they sell it for a lot of money.
Category: Random coke-bottle.jpg

Why do drinks stay fizzy in the fridge?

When you don't finish a fizzy drink, why does it stay fizzier in a fridge than if you leave it at room temperature?
Category: Science and Technology michael Jackson funeral

Why are undertakers so called?

Why are undertakers so called? Where did the name originate?
Category: Words green-room.jpg

Why is a Green Room so called?

You see pictures on TV where celebrities are seen drinking in the "green room". But they are never green.
Category: Words memory card

How do memory cards work?

How do memory cards work? How does something that is so small and doesn't move store so much?
Category: Science and Technology hd-tv.jpg

Why are HD TV channels quieter than usual ones?

I just bought a flatscreen TV with HD. Why is the sound so much quieter on an HD channel than on regular channels?
Category: Science and Technology beadle

What is a Beadle?

At St Bart's Hospital, there is a man who deals with paperwork called the Beadle. Where does that title come from?
Category: Words glass tumbler

Why is a glass called a tumbler?

Why is a drinking glass known as a 'tumbler'?
Category: Words Dog eyes

Why do dogs stick their heads out of car windows?

Why does a dog want to put its head out of a car door all the time? I see this more and more.
Category: Animals and Nature saturn

How do gas planets stay together?

Why do gas planets like Neptune and Saturn exist? What keeps the gas together and doesn't just disappear into space?
Category: Science and Technology toby jug

Toby Jugs - who was Toby?

You've got the Toby Jugs and the Toby Carver. So who is Toby?
category: Culture eggs.jpg

Why are foreign eggs white, but ours brown?

On holiday at breakfast, all the eggs were white, but back here, they are brown. Why is there a difference?
Category: Animals and Nature clock.jpg

How do you get your clock completely accurate?

What is the best way to set your watch as accurately as possible?
Category: Random Routemaster

What are the counters on bus wheels?

On the back wheel of a bus, there is a counter – a small box with numbers. If they are counting, what is the purpose?
Category: Random


Why is there a squeaking noise when pigeons take flight?

Doves make it too but crows do not.

Category: Animals and Nature


What happens to lottery scratchcards when all the top prizes have been won?

Surely it is like selling raffle tickets after the prizes have gone?

Category: Sport and Games