Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed answers is an ELEMENT, a NOBLE GAS with the AT. NO. given by the corresponding clue number:
- 67A. What each arrow in a clue points to, for its answer: Abbr. : AT NO
- 38D. The answer to each clue with an arrow : NOBLE GAS
- 43D. The answer to each clue with an arrow : ELEMENT
- 10. <--, on the periodic table : NEON
- 18. <--, on the periodic table : ARGON
- 36. <--, on the periodic table : KRYPTON
- 54. <--, on the periodic table : XENON
- 2. <--, on the periodic table : HELIUM
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
1. “___: Ragnarok” (2017 Marvel film) : THOR
Ragnarök is the name given to a set of events in Norse mythology that resulted in the deaths of many famous gods, including Odin and Thor.
10. <--, on the periodic table : NEON
Neon was discovered in 1898 by two British chemists Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers. They chilled a sample of air, turning it into a liquid, and then warmed the liquid and separated out the gases that boiled off. Along with nitrogen, oxygen and argon (already known), the pair of scientists discovered two new gases. The first they called “krypton” and the second “neon”. “Krypton” is Greek for “the hidden one” and “neon” is Greek for “new”.
15. Grain disease : ERGOT
Ergot is a fungus, or actually a group of fungi, that cause disease in rye and related plants. If human eat ergot-contaminated grain, a condition called ergotism can result. Ergotism is the result of consumption of alkaloids produced by the fungi, alkaloids that can cause seizures and manic behavior. It has even been suggested that the hysteria exhibited by the Salem “witches” was perhaps caused by the ingestion of ergot-contaminated rye.
17. Specks in la mer : ILES
In French, one might go to an “île” (island) in the middle of “la mer” (the sea).
18. <--, on the periodic table : ARGON
The chemical element argon has the symbol Ar. Argon is a noble gas, and so by definition is relatively nonreactive. The name “argon” comes from the Greek word for “lazy, inactive”. There’s a lot of argon around, as it is the third-most abundant gas in our atmosphere.
19. Carefully examines : VETS
The verb “to vet” comes from the term “veterinarian”. The idea is that to vet something is to subject it to careful examination, like a veterinarian checking out an animal.
22. Ventura who was governor of Minnesota : JESSE
Jesse Ventura is a former professional wrestler turned state governor. When Ventura retired from wrestling he ran for mayor in the city of Brooklyn Park in Minnesota, and won the race by beating the 25-year incumbent. In 1998, Ventura built on his 4-year experience as a mayor and won the race for Governor of the state, beating out candidates representing the two big parties in a major upset.
26. 911 responder, for short : EMT
Emergency medical technician (EMT)
The first use of a national emergency phone number was in the UK in 1937, where the number 999 was introduced to call emergency services. If you need emergency services in the UK or Ireland to this day, you have to dial 999. It’s not really clear why 911 became the emergency number in the US. The most credible suggestion (to me) is that when it was introduced by the FCC in 1967, it was a number that “fit” with the numbers already used by AT&T for free services (211-long distance; 411-information; 611-repair service).
34. Place to buy tickets: Abbr. : STA
42. One might be around a buck or two : DOE
A male deer is usually called a buck, and a female is a doe. However, the male red deer is usually referred to as a stag. The males of even larger species of deer are often called bulls, and females cows. In older English, male deer of over 5 years were called harts, and females of over 3 years were called hinds. The young of small species are known as fawns, and of larger species are called calves. All very confusing …
44. Canadian gas brand : ESSO
The brand name Esso has its roots in the old Standard Oil company as it uses the initial letters of “Standard” and “Oil” (ESS-O). The Esso brand was replaced by Exxon in the US, but ESSO is still used in many other countries.
45. End of the British alphabet : ZED
The letter named “zed” has been around since about 1400, and derives from the Greek letter zeta. The spelling and pronunciation of “zee”, used in America today, first popped up in the 1670s.
46. Perish alternative : PUBLISH
The phrase “publish or perish” is commonly used in the world of academia to describe the pressure to continually produce academic papers in order to further one’s career. The phrase probably dates back to the 1920s.
48. Abbr. in an email header : FWD
52. Person making introductions : EMCEE
The term “emcee” comes from “MC”, an initialism standing for Master or Mistress of Ceremonies.
54. <--, on the periodic table : XENON
Xenon was the first of the noble gases to be made into a compound, which was somewhat remarkable in that the noble gases were thought by many to be completely inert, nonreactive.
57. Opaque liquids such as milk : EMULSIONS
An emulsion is a mixture of two liquids, two liquids that don’t easily mix. Examples are milk (water and fat), mayonnaise (oil and water) and vinaigrette (oil and vinegar). Mixture of such liquids requires the presence of an emulsifier, a substance that stabilizes the emulsion so that separation does not occur. Examples of emulsifiers are egg yolk and mustard.
59. Minnesota’s ___ Clinic : MAYO
The Mayo Clinic started out as a private practice run by Dr. William Mayo, an immigrant from the North of England who arrived in the US in 1846. Mayo’s first practice was with his two sons, which evolved into a clinic set up with six other doctors.
63. Au pair, often : NANNY
An au pair is a domestic assistant from a foreign country working and living as part of a host family. The term “au pair” is French, and means “on a par”, indicating that an au pair is treated as an equal in the host family.
64. Turkey ___ (annual event) : TROT
Turkey trots are long-distance fun runs held around Thanksgiving here in the US, and around Christmas over the UK. The “turkey” reference is to the traditional dish served at both holidays.
66. Fur trader John Jacob : ASTOR
John Jacob Astor was the patriarch of the famous American Astor dynasty. He was the country’s first multi-millionaire, making his fortune in the trade of fur, real estate and opium. In today’s terms, it has been calculated that by the time of his death he has accumulated a fortune big enough to make him the fourth wealthiest man in American history (in the company of the likes of Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Bill Gates, Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller).
67. What each arrow in a clue points to, for its answer: Abbr. : AT NO
The atomic number of an element is also called the proton number, and is the number of protons found in the nucleus of each atom of the element.
2. <--, on the periodic table : HELIUM
Helium is the chemical element with the atomic number 2 and the element symbol “He”. Helium is a gas, and lighter than air. It is the second-most abundant element in the universe (after hydrogen). Helium was first detected in 1868 as an unknown yellow spectral line during a solar eclipse. As such, the gas was named for “Helios”, the Greek god of the Sun.
6. Printing goofs : ERRATA
“Errata” is the past participle of the Latin word “errare” meaning “to err”. We use “errata” (singular “erratum”) to mean a list of errors that have been noted in some publication.
9. Denali, e.g.: Abbr. : MTN
Denali means “the high one” in the native Athabaskan language, and is now the name used for Mount McKinley. Denali’s summit stands at 20,237 feet, making it the highest mountain peak in North America. I was surprised to learn that there is a Denali State Park, as well as the Denali National Park. The two are located adjacent to each other (which makes sense!). The State Park is undeveloped for all practical purposes, with just a few campgrounds and trailheads.
21. Balance sheet plus : ASSET
The balance sheet of a company is a snapshot (single point in time) view of a company’s financial position. The balance sheet lists all the company’s liabilities, all of its assets, and all of its ownership equity. The assets of a company, less its liabilities equals the ownership equity. The term “balance” is used because assets always balance out with the sum of liabilities and shareholder equity.
28. Book that describes the crossing of the Red Sea : EXODUS
The Red Sea (sometimes called the Arabian Gulf) is a stretch of water lying between Africa and Asia. The Gulf of Suez (and the Suez Canal) lies to north, and the Gulf of Aden to the south. According to the Book of Exodus in the Bible, God parted the Red Sea to allow Moses lead the Israelites from Egypt.
33. Additional afterthought, for short : PPS
One adds a PS (post scriptum, or simply “postscript”) at the end of a letter (ltr.). A second postscript is a post post scriptum, a PPS.
35. Includes when sending an email : CCS
I wonder do the kids of today know that “cc” stands for carbon copy, and do they have any idea what a carbon copy was? Do you remember how messy carbon paper was to handle?
36. Radio freq. unit : KHZ
The unit of frequency measure is the hertz (Hz). It is the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon. The unit is named for Heinrich Hertz, the German physicist who proved the existence of electromagnetic waves.
37. Wade’s opponent in legal history : ROE
Roe v. Wade was decided in a US District Court in Texas in 1970, and reached the Supreme Court on appeal. The basic decision by the Supreme Court was that a woman’s constitutional right to privacy applied to an abortion, but that this right had to be balanced with a state’s interest in protecting an unborn child and a mother’s health. The Court further defined that the state’s interest became stronger with each trimester of a pregnancy. So, in the first trimester the woman’s right to privacy outweighed any state interest. In the second trimester the state’s interest in maternal health was deemed to be strong enough to allow state regulation of abortion for the sake of the mother. In the third trimester the viability of the fetus dictated that the state’s interest in the unborn child came into play, so states could regulate or prohibit abortions, except in cases where the mother’s life was in danger. I’m no lawyer, but that’s my understanding of the initial Supreme Court decision …
38. The answer to each clue with an arrow : NOBLE GAS
The rare gases are better known as the noble gases, but neither term is really very accurate. Noble gas might be a better choice though, as they are all relatively nonreactive. But rare they are not. Argon, for example, is a major constituent (1%) of the air that we breathe.
40. BBQ leftovers? : ASHES
It is believed that our word “barbecue” (BBQ) comes from the Taíno people of the Caribbean in whose language “barbacoa” means “sacred fire pit”.
50. Mississippi River explorer : DE SOTO
Hernando de Soto was a Spanish conquistador who led expeditions throughout the southeastern US. De Soto’s travels were unsuccessful in that he failed to bring gold or silver back to Spain, and nor did he found any colonies. What de Soto did achieve was the exposure of local populations to devastating Eurasian diseases. De Soto was the first European to cross the Mississippi River, in 1541. The first European to see the Mississippi (but not cross it) was Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, in 1519.
53. Mazda roadster : MIATA
The Mazda MX-5 is sold as the Miata in North America, and as the Roadster in Japan. I’ve always liked the looks of the Mazda Miata, probably because it reminds me so much of old British sports cars. The Miata is built in Hiroshima, Japan.
54. Superhero group including Beast and Cyclops : X-MEN
X-Men is a team of superheroes created by Stan Lee for Marvel Comics. Nowadays the X-Men are perhaps best known as the subject of a series of movies, with Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine, and Patrick Stewart playing Professor Xavier (or simply “Professor X”). Some very respected actors have also played the villains that X-Men have to battle. For example, the enemy called Magneto is portrayed by veteran Shakespearean actor Sir Ian McKellan.
56. Kremlin rejection : NYET
I was lucky enough to visit the Moscow Kremlin as a tourist a few decades ago. The Kremlin sits right on Red Square, along with Saint Basil’s Cathedral and the famed GUM department store. “Kremlin” is a Russian word for “fortress”.
58. Astronomer’s unit: Abbr. : LT YR
A light-year (lt. yr.) is a measure of distance, not time. It is the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one year, which is almost six trillion miles. The accepted abbreviation for a light-year is “ly”. A light-second is a much shorter distance: about 186,282 miles.