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Mail Box: Just ask,..; If there is a question bothering you, write to me at the address above and I will try to help. But, sorry, I cannot reply personally.

Q WHERE did the name Bluetooth come from in the latest mobile phone technology? Sarah McClymont, Ayr.

A THE technology developed by a consortium including IBM, Ericsson, Nokia and Toshiba allows electronic devices from different companies and systems to communicate with each other over short distances without connecting cables. They named it after Harald Bluetooth, a 10th century Danish king famed for uniting warring factions.

Q DID Venetian blinds actually originate in Venice? J. McManus, Greenock.

A NO one is sure. It is thought early Venetian traders brought the idea of slatted blinds to Europe from Persia. In France, Venetian blinds are still known as 'Les Persienes'. By the 18th century the design had crossed the Atlantic and St Peter's Church in Philadelpia was one of the first buildings fitted with them in 1761.

Q DID Dustin Hoffman ever do a voice on The Simpsons? S. Mullen, Coatbridge.

ATHE double Oscar- winner provided the voice of Mr Bergstrom, the stand-in teacher Lisa falls in love with and decides to adopt as a male role model, in the episode Lisa's Substitute first shown in 1991. Hoffman was credited as Sam Etic.

Q HOW did the word boffin come to mean a scientist or expert? R. Reid, Dunbar, East Lothian.

A THE term appears to have become common during World War Two, used as a reference to technical experts, particu-larly in the field of aviation. Some sources say it is a corruption of the Blackburn Baffin, a pre-war biplane.

Others claim it came from Nicodemus Boffin a character in Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend. He inherited a fortune from his father, a contractor who removed dust and rubbish. They say that police fingerprint experts, who brushed dust on to surfaces to make prints show up, were nicknamed boffins. Its use then spread to apply to any scientific expert.

Q MY friend insists that Steve Martin has made films under another name. Is this true? M. Bell, Grangemouth.

A COMEDY star Martin's first big movie The Jerk in 1979 saw him playing a number of roles, including that of a cat juggler in the film within the film. In the credits, the cat juggler is listed as being played by Pig Eye Jackson. It's not known why Martin came up with this name.

Q ARE the 2p coins with the words New Pence on the reverse collectors' items? R. Drummond, Falkirk.

A THIS is a bit of an urban myth. When decimal coins were first minted in 1971, all bore the words New Pence on the tail side. In 1982, the wording changed to the value in words Two Pence, 10 Pence, etc. In all, 3.1billion 2p pieces were made, so those bearing the New Pence wording are not at all rare. The exception is a batch of around 450 2ps minted in 1983 as part of sets for coin collectors which were wrongly made with New Pence on them. These coins can be worth up to pounds 200.

CAPTION(S):

Name that toon: Hoffman; Juggler: Steve Martin
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 22, 2004
Words:506
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