Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2012 December 8

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December 8[edit]

How old is the oldest music/sound recorded?[edit]

How old is the oldest music/sound recorded? Venustar84 (talk) 04:42, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

We have an article on the History of sound recording. The first device to record sound was the phonoautograph, built in 1857, although it could not play back the sound. Someguy1221 (talk) 04:46, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Is a music box playing recorded music? They go back at least as far as 1815. HiLo48 (talk) 04:50, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
I guess you have to define "recorded". Presumably Venus is asking for cases where the music recorded and played back without the assistance of a human. In the case of a music box, certainly, the playback is performed without human assistance, but the recording is not. The first playback of unequivocally recorded sound was by one of Thomas Edison's phonographs in 1877. Someguy1221 (talk) 04:58, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
There are claims that sounds may have been inadvertently recorded in ancient items such as pottery. Details at Archaeoacoustics#Past_interpretations. Mitch Ames (talk) 09:03, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
The oldest recognizable sound we currently have in existence is apparently this 1860 recording. (The quality isn't great, but it does sound like singing.) So that's 152 years. --Mr.98 (talk) 13:45, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

pen to detect Counterfeit money[edit]

Very often when a customer gives a store a $20 or higher, they mark it with a pen to see if it is Counterfeit money. Do these pens work? Somewhere I read that they would not work unless they used plain acidic paper, or something like that. (P.S. - I'm not trying to counterfeit money.) Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 05:47, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

Are you serious about the "Very often"? I've never seen it. Maybe it's country specific. USA? HiLo48 (talk) 05:52, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
What is the pen supposed to do? And to HiLo, I have seen cashiers do this many times here in the USA, but I wouldn't call it "very often". Definitely less than 10% of the time. Someguy1221 (talk) 05:54, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, in the USA. It happens most of the time when I give a $20 or larger. The mark by the pen is supposed to turn dark if it is counterfeit. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 05:55, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
The place I have noticed this most is in low-end franchise stores in the USA — a 7-11, for example, will almost always do this for $50s or higher, in my experience. Other places do it too, of course. --Mr.98 (talk) 13:47, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

I found this Counterfeit banknote detection pen, the thing I was talking about. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 06:01, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

Yes some stores use those pens. They're not very good. They only detect aspects of paper quality ("genuine banknotes are printed on paper based on cotton fibers, and do not contain the starches that react with iodine"). There are much better ways to check bills for legitimacy, notable checking the watermark from both sides (a good watermark is very hard to duplicate), checking the security thread, and just being familiar with the tactile feel of a particular bill. The Secret Service has a webpage listing some common features to check: Shadowjams (talk) 13:54, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Loving the random percentages and the idea that low-end franchises do it. Yes, the pens exist. Yes, the pens work (I'm sure not for all counterfeit bills, but for enough to make it worth using since banks will give them to businesses for free.) --OnoremDil 14:04, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Counterfeit banknote detection pen tells us that they do work, on American money. My ignorance of the pens comes from being located in Australia, where our "paper" money isn't printed on paper at all. We use Polymer banknotes, so the pens would serve no purpose. At least I won't be surprised now when someone scribbles on my money in the US. Wikipedia IS educational. HiLo48 (talk) 17:12, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
So Keating wasn't defacing the currency at all, he was just checking that it wasn't a fake! Mitch Ames (talk) 09:55, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
So called paper money is rarely of what we normally call paper. It's a cotton fiber or polymer of some sort. That's the case of the Euro, Dollar and Pound too. OsmanRF34 (talk) 20:00, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
The article says they only work to detect paper like used in a photocopier. Strangely, they rely on this but very, very rarely look for the watermark or the security thread (in US). Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 17:46, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
I've seen the pens used on British banknotes too, also in low-end stores. Perhaps other stores train their staff to look for the other security features. Dbfirs 17:49, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
I suspect the low-end store works with a lower profit margin and therefore has more to lose if they accept counterfeit banknotes; or maybe they are more supicious of their customers. It would be interesting to find out if a high-end store is equally suspicious of banknotes (for example would Tiffanys check your banknotes if you pay for your very expensive jewellery with cash?) Incidentally, I've also seen stores in Europe use a small UV light or a small electronic device to check banknotes. Astronaut (talk) 04:53, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
This is mostly at fast food stores, grocery stores, and other small purchases; where I see it. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 21:51, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
I used one of these pens while working in a medium-sized grocery in the UK about fifteen years ago. We were instructed to use the pen and check for watermarks on all notes. I never had a note react to the pen, so cannot comment on its efficacy, but the owner certainly believed that it was a useful tool. Warofdreams talk 11:33, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
James Randi did a bit of debunking on those pens: Staecker (talk) 12:53, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the link. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 00:50, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Tonight I had them use a pen on a $10. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 00:44, 11 December 2012 (UTC)


Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 03:29, 13 December 2012 (UTC)


I have the impression that quince was once a relatively popular fruit in Europe and North America; I see it mentioned in any number of works, along with apples, pears, and so forth. Christina Rossetti had it at the Goblin Market, Ichabod Crane ate them at Sleepy Hollow, the Owl and the Pussycat had them, and so on. Yet every time I see it mentioned, I know I'm looking at an old work, because quinces don't seem to be around any more. What happened to them? This has a bit, though it's unreferenced. I work in a foodservice DC which carries literally hundreds of lines of produce of which not one is a quince. My local mega-marts carry more than a dozen varieties of apples and half a dozen pears and even relative exotics like carambola, yet no quinces are to be seen. Why were they so popular and why aren't they now? Matt Deres (talk) 17:04, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

I think it is because they don't suit modern farming practices. A modern grower want fruit to ripen all all at the same time -to make picking more economical. Also, they are at their most useful cooked. In olden times when most of the population were employed in agriculture, picking the fruit as and when they became ripe and preserving them as jelly’s and jams, fitted into the life-style of the times. In the last forty years the only quince (for sale) I've seen is as preserves. I still occasionally I see quince trees growing but never quince fruit for sale. Probable, because the average housewife would not be bothered enough to take advantage of something that dose not come in a microwaveable package. There are quite a lot of old food stuff that are no longer eaten. Marshmallow still grows all over the place, so does Jack-in-the-hedge, and many more. What housewife pops out into the garden to gathers rose-hips these days or leave home at dawn to roam the pastures and woodlands for mushroom and fungi? Or smear branches with birdlime for a songbird pie. Rose-hips and songbirds require preparation beyond the desires of the modern liberated woman... Oh, what sad times we now live in – sigh. --Aspro (talk) 18:03, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Your post includes the assumption that women are solely responsible for food gathering and preparation. StuRat (talk) 18:07, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Our article says: "It has become rare in North America due to its susceptibility to fireblight disease caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora". StuRat (talk) 18:12, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Seem to be fashionable again in England. I bought a tree recently anyway. But a lot of people have Japonica hedges for the colour of the blossom in early Spring without realising you can eat the fruit. People like me who do also gather rose hips know how nice quinces can be mixed with apples in a pie, or to make jelly. Itsmejudith (talk) 20:02, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Quince is available right now in the better natural supermarkets here in the Bay Area. Lots of people don't like it raw because the fruit is pretty astringent -- sort of like an underripe pear. But the Berkeley Bowl -- which has every sort of fruit and vegetable you can imagine -- had some cut up for sampling when I went shopping yesterday. Looie496 (talk) 20:36, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
"Bay area" is a bit vague. I'm sure there's more than one in the world. I assume you mean the San Francisco Bay, but others may not figure that out. StuRat (talk) 23:25, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Is there any other place in the world called "the bay area"? I googled for a bit but couldn't find one.Dncsky (talk) 00:31, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Probably not, but that's of no help to people who are not intimately familiar with SF and the names of all its areas. Such as people who've never even visited the USA, but know of it only through legends. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 04:03, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Ah yes, the huge group of people who have access to the RD but not Google.Dncsky (talk) 05:41, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
That's not the point, really. It's about not taking for granted that the places you refer to are known to all your readers, and not expecting those to whom those places are not known to have to google to find out what you're talking about. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 05:52, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Agreed. Also, here's a "Bay Area Chamber of Commerce", from Oregon: [1]. And Google interpreting "Bay Area" as "San Francisco Bay Area" instead of one of the others probably just means Google is US-centric and California-centric. StuRat (talk) 06:52, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
and that makes Wikipedia? Hot Stop (Talk) 08:12, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Guess where Google is based. —Tamfang (talk) 00:40, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Quince bushes are commonly planted for landscaping purposes in northern Europe, especially along roads, driveways, parking lots and median strips, I presume because they are relatively tolerant to automobile exhaust. They're so common that there is no need to buy them in a store. I can and have picked as many as I want for free for jam making here in Poland, and also when I lived in Germany and Denmark. Same with fat, fleshy rose hips, which are usually planted together with the quices. While there are, apparently, varieties that can be eaten raw, I have not encountered them. By the way, I don't pick from roadside bushes. My friends have a large yard that is landscaped with several varieties of quince bushes, and they don't use them themselves. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 20:58, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
The problem with quince fruit is that they are practically inedible until they are almost rotten, a state known as "bletted". Japonica are more common in the UK, and we have two kinds in our garden and make jelly with them or add them to apple crumble or pie. --TammyMoet (talk) 21:54, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Tammy (and Judith, above), I've tried making jelly with Japonica quinces, but it was far, far too astringent. Do you just leave them out in the frost to "blett" them, or can you put them in a freezer? Dbfirs 08:59, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
They were very sour but not astringent. Just used a lot of sugar and the jelly had a sharp edge that I personally liked. They had an amazing smell when kept in a warm kitchen but that didn't really make it through the cooking. Itsmejudith (talk) 09:45, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
I suspect here is exemplified the difference between the US and UK when we're talking about "jelly". In English cookery traditions, jelly is a tart accompaniment to cooked meat and is not meant to be too sweet: it is also meant to be clear as opposed to jam, which is full of fruit pulp and a lot sweeter. Japonica (or quince) jelly goes really well with roast pork. --TammyMoet (talk) 10:14, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, both of you. I think I might have another attempt at making use of my quinces. It seems such a pity to let them rot. Possibly my problem is that they never come near to ripening in our dull British summer with rain most of the time and almost constant cloud cover where I live. I expect they would taste better if allowed to ripen. Perhaps we will get a sunny summer like 1976 or 1984 again some year? Dbfirs 21:43, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Have a look at this. Are the "Bay Area" quinces marked as imported? Zoonoses (talk) 05:45, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Lots of interesting stuff here; thank you! I must admit that I didn't see the bit about fireblight in the article, though I think that's probably not a major factor; virtually every cultivated plant is menaced by some fungus or disease; if there was a larger marked for quince, farmers would find a way to meet demand somehow. Given some of the replies above about quinces... eccentricities, I feel the need to re-ask my penultimate question - why were they so popular? Up until about a century ago, no list of fruits in the bowl seemed complete without them. Did the increased import of tropicals like banana and pineapple just reset everyone's expectations of what fruit to eat? Matt Deres (talk) 20:45, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Basically, yes. They were a "season extender", just like kale was among vegetables. Quinces were one of the very few fresh fruits that were available during the winter in northern Europe until canning, fruit importation and better storage and transportation of fresh fruit became possible. That's also why dried fruits like figs and prunes (plums) were also so popular, and appear in so many Christmas stories and recipes. Until recently in Poland and much of eastern Europe, a tangerine or banana was not something every child could expect to see, never mind taste, even at Christmas time. Other fruits that were used much more in the past in northern Europe for the same reason were rose hips, rowan berries and barberries. In North America, American persimmons were valued for the same reason. Another factor is the decline in home canning and jam making, especially out of necessity. I make jam every year from these old-fashioned fruits, but as a hobby and because it makes great Christmas presents, oddly because jam from rowan berries, quinces and barberries is nowadays something unusual enough to be "special". Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 21:51, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Matt's original question "why aren't they now?" bears some thought. As Tammy observes, for the most part they're "practically inedible". But this is true for a lot of the wild ancestors of many the food plants upon which the world depends - wild apples are small and bitter, wild strawberries are tiny and unpickably fragile, wild bananas are small and green and woody, and maize is small and rather hard. That these crops have developed into massive sweet abundance is no accident - it's the fruit (sic) of ten millennia of selective breeding. So why haven't quince or rose hips developed along the same path? When you eat one of these, you're essentially regressing back to our hunter-gatherer past, picking what nature provides rather than controlling and engineering nature to our own ends as a farmer does. I don't know why wild quince haven't turned into a modern high-yield, high food-value, long shelf-life food crop - but in Guns Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond discusses which wild food species (plant and animal) could be transformed into easier, better-yielding cultivars with selective breeding because they required only one or two mutations to remove the difficult characteristic, and conversely those that required the coincidence of many concurrent mutations and so weren't amenable to practical domestication. So we're left with 30 or so species of food crops, from around the world, that genetic happenstance led to be amenable to real cultivation, leaving hips and quinces and thousands of others that weren't. Unless someone has done an in-depth study of the genome of the quince, we're likely left with that. Farmers in the places where they're native will surely have tried to cultivate them (because they're nice enough), and given the diligence of farmers we have to assume that the quince farmers failed where the apple farmers succeeded. So TL;DR - it may well be that the quince is genetically a crap crop. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 01:17, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Quite the contrary. Like apples, quinces have been selected for thousands of years as a fruit crop, and breeding continues till today. Most breeding nowadays, however, is for ornamental purposes, and there are many varieties of quince that are widely used for landscaping purposes. If there were sufficient demand for high-quality, high-yield quinces, there would be a lot more breeding going on to develope more commercially viable cultivars. The problem is that demand is low, primarily due to lack of necessity and to competition from other, previously unavailable tropical fruits. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 01:38, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Do you have a source that says quinces are selected for? What have read above suggests they have been selected against. μηδείς (talk) 04:18, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Have you tried reading the Quince article? I don't have a clue what you mean by "selected against". That's biologically meaningless. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 04:27, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
I bought my quince sapling from a commercial catalogue where the characteristics of named varieties were described. The existence of named varieties shows that there has been selective breeding. The flowers are usually white or light pink, while japonica selected on purely aesthetic grounds has dark pink flowers. Itsmejudith (talk) 09:21, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
The existence of named varieties shows there has been recent breeding--that hardly amounts to the thousands of years one finds for cabbage or cherries as implied above. μηδείς (talk) 21:35, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Quick Google found this paper. You'll probably want to check out the refs in Homer and Pliny the Elder. By the way, neither I nor DV noticed that the ornamental japonica is a different species from the cultivated quince. Itsmejudith (talk) 22:04, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Whew! I'm glad you said that! That was my understanding (from the article), but you guys kept interchanging the two and I thought I had just misread or misunderstood something in the article. Matt Deres (talk) 14:17, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
The problem is that the fruit of Japonica quince (Chaenomeles japonica) is very similar to that of the true quince (Cydonia oblonga) because they are related species, but the Japonica is bred for its dark pink flowers, and its fruit is often too astringent (though Tammy & Judith seem to make theirs edible, so I'm going to have another attempt). Dbfirs 16:47, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
It may not be "making it edible" but eating it differently - I wouldn't use my japonica jelly on toast, for example, but as an accompaniment to roast pork. Find a Marguerite Patten recipe and you won't go far wrong. --TammyMoet (talk) 10:21, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Quiz question...Connect[edit]

Can anyone please tell me the connection between Tata Nano, Maruti A-Star and Honda CBR 250cc motorcycle? It's a quiz question and i'm looking what connects those three..Thanks for your help!! Linkinfloyd (talk) 20:32, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

If you mean the Honda CBR250R (2011), all three seem to have been manufactured in India at some point, according to our articles. AndyTheGrump (talk) 21:44, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Does the quiz offer a prize, and if so, how will you share your winnings with ref.desk volunteers? SkylonS (talk) 09:03, 10 December 2012 (UTC)