November 10, 2009

Ask Wonderduck (almost) Anything!

It's time for a new thing here at The Pond: Ask Wonderduck (almost) Anything!

Here's how this works... you ask a question, and I'll answer it!  Dead simple!  But wait, there's more!  The best question (in my opinion) will get a full-length post devoted to the answer! 

Now, there are a few questions I won't answer: anything related to current politics or religion.  I started The Pond lo these many years ago in an attempt to get away from political or religious squabbles, and to this day I've pretty much managed to stay clear of those things.  If you DO ask a question related to such topics, please expect to be mocked horribly.

But wait, there's even more!

If you ask a technical question, I'll do my best to answer it correctly, but use it at your own risk.  So if you ask, say, "how do I install a left-handed widget in my 2002 Kia Econobox," the results are on your head, not mine.

With all that out of the way, Ask Wonderduck (almost) Anything!

How often do you get a chance to ask a hyper-intelligent duck that can type a question, after all?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:19 PM | Comments (21) | Add Comment
Post contains 198 words, total size 1 kb.

1 Wonderduck, what question should I ask you?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 10, 2009 09:27 PM (+rSRq)

2 Do you have any predictions on how well Team US F1 will do, in the 2010 season and beyond?

Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at November 10, 2009 09:46 PM (c62wM)

3 @Steven: Why, anything you'd like to have answered.

@Peter: Yes.  (sorry, couldn't resist)

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 10, 2009 10:32 PM (4Mcos)

4 What's the most recent duck you've added to the flock, either by gift or by direct acquisition?

(A softball question? Sure, but it's relevant to MY interests. So there.)

Posted by: GreyDuck at November 10, 2009 10:54 PM (o5Lvb)

5 @GreyDuck: The one on the left.  Considering the message on his shirt, it shouldn't be too surprising that The Librarian gave it to me.

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 10, 2009 11:12 PM (4Mcos)

6 "Why?"

Posted by: Big D at November 11, 2009 12:16 AM (LjWr8)

7 @Big D: "Because."

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 11, 2009 08:03 AM (4Mcos)

8 Many years ago SDB posted an explaination of why locally generated power would be inefficient to put back on the grid. It had to do with syncronizing the AC wave. Is this true and how do all the windmill farms do it?

Posted by: Les Ross at November 11, 2009 09:54 AM (ns1pi)

9 @Peter: Yes.  (sorry, couldn't resist)

Ohhh...kay.  What are those predictions?  (Or do I only get to ask one question?) 

I hope USF1 (and the other new teams) is successful--a new built-from-scratch Formula One team would make a refreshing change from teams throwing in the towel (or just plain going bankrupt, like Super Aguri did).  However, USF1's web site ( is awfully sparse at the moment; in the Internet age, that sort of thing doesn't bode well.

Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at November 11, 2009 07:00 PM (c62wM)

10 @Les Ross: If I followed Steven's rules of alternative energy discussion, I'd refuse to answer your question on the grounds of it being about religion.  I did, however, say any question. 

My guess, and while I've done absolutely no research on the subject it seems like a fairly decent guess, has to do with scale.  A full-size windmill farm, with many many individual 'mills, should probably be viewed as one power-generating site, as opposed to many single 'mills.  If there's a way to take the output of all of those 'mills and send them into one converter, and from there onto the power grid, that's more efficient than one converter, one 'mill.

That's why the windmill in your back yard, which may be enough to power your house (or not; there's no wind here right now), probably isn't worth counting on the grid.

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 11, 2009 07:25 PM (4Mcos)

11   Why aren't sloths living for hundreds of years?  They hardly use any energy and having such low metabolism would seem ideal for a long life span.  The highest number I've seen is 32 years for a zoo animal.  They just seem like the closest mammal version of the long lived turtles with their extremely slow movements.

Posted by: ColoradoJim at November 12, 2009 12:12 PM (bzIDI)

12 Has there been any more information about the fish kill that happened after the train derailment?

I assume that the problems that led to the crash have been addressed.  But then, this is Duckford...

Posted by: Vaucanson's Duck at November 12, 2009 01:12 PM (XVJDy)

13 @Vaucanson's Duck: Nothing that I can find, or that I've heard.  The EPA is still saying that the derailment didn't have anything to do with it.  While I have a real hard time believing that, who knows?  As far as the problems go, the last time you were here, we drove over the regraded tracks.  The crossing is perfectly smooth now, or near as makes no difference, and the railbed looks like it's been elevated a few feet the height it used to be.  So, it's probably unlikely to happen again... but it was pretty unlikely to happen the FIRST time.

@ColoradoJim: It's not that they're slow, it's just that they're slow to our eyes.  Sloths are actually multi-planar creatures, much like tessaracts.  What we see as a slow-moving, lethargic beast is just a projection of these awesome creatures, some of whom can move at a sizable fraction of the speed of light.  Indeed, on the plane they really exist upon, the night sky is an incredible sight as the sloths scream through the atmosphere fast enough that the air actually burns behind them.  They also like showtunes.

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 12, 2009 05:50 PM (4Mcos)


Here's a what if one for you- which US presidential election would have changed history most if the result was switched-

a) for the better,

b) for the worse,


PS: the answer to 'why?' is 'why not'

Posted by: Andy Janes at November 13, 2009 01:27 PM (ysrxI)

15 I think there's little doubt that the election of 1864 was the single most important in the history of this nation. Would it have been better or worse for McClellan to win? I have no idea. But it sure as hell would have been different.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 13, 2009 06:18 PM (+rSRq)

16 Maybe not so much important as pivotal. Arguably the election of 1792 was the most important, even though Washington ran unopposed (or because he did).

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 13, 2009 06:34 PM (+rSRq)

17 Do you mean the election of 1788?   1792 was Washington's re-election for a second term.  I'd argue that both 1796 and 1800 were more important than 1792; 1796 because Washington opted for retirement rather than a third term (President for life would not have been a good precedent for this country), and 1800 because, no matter how John Adams felt about TJ at the time, he did step down and let Jefferson take over after John lost the election. . . . .

Posted by: go-daigo at November 14, 2009 02:09 AM (DbMND)

18 You're right, I was thinking of Washington's first election.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 14, 2009 11:42 AM (+rSRq)


I don't know if the window on asking questions is closed, but one just occurred to me that I've long wondered about:

Why are domesticated ducks albinos?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 15, 2009 12:57 PM (+rSRq)

20        Why are domesticated ducks albinos?

Side-effect of a mid-twentieth century eugenics program to develop a "duck master race"?  This was, of course, before the duck high-command settled on cybernetics as a means to achieve global domination...

Posted by: Siergen at November 15, 2009 02:07 PM (TJQ10)

21 Why are domesticated ducks albinos?

Because they've surrendered.

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 15, 2009 06:39 PM (4Mcos)

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