Saturday, December 24, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 25): What's Perceptible in Non-Perception

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 25): What's Perceptible in Non-Perception:
Q: Take the word non-perception. Rearrange its 13 letters to name three things that are in the same category. What are they?
Given some of the recent NPR puzzles, I was in my element solving this one in no time at all.
A: COPPER, NEON, TIN

Thursday, December 15, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 18): Reading Forward and Backward

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 18): Reading Forward and Backward:
Q: Take the word debunk, starting with the b inside, read the letters forward and you get bunk. And starting with the b and reading backward, you get bed. Together, these two words spell bunk bed. Now, think of a word with an m inside, starting with the m and reading forward, you'll get one word, and starting with the m and reading backward, you get another word. And together these two words make a job title. What is it?
This puzzle is so simple, you don't need any hints from me. I'll post my answer sometime Thursday after time has expired, or when I get 'round to it.
Edit: Okay, time is up... now you're getting a ticket
A: diameter --> meter maid

Friday, November 11, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 13) - Roadside brand = phonetic opposites

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 13) - Roadside brand = phonetic opposites
Q: Take a familiar brand name, seen along roads and highways in the United States. It has five letters, two syllables. The first syllable, phonetically, is a word that is the opposite of the word spelled by the second syllable. What brand name is it?
We know the answer isn't Burma Shave. What else is popular along roadways? It must be a restaurant name or gasoline brand... I'll let you know my answer after the deadline.
Edit: Okay, it's after the deadline, so here is my answer:
A: CITGO (Sit, Go)

Friday, November 04, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 6) - A Beast of a Puzzle

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 6) - A Beast of a Puzzle:
Q: Take the names pelican and antelope, the first is a bird the second a mammal. The last two letters of pelican are the first two letters of antelope, and the last two letters of antelope are the first two of pelican, completing a loop. Can you name another bird and mammal that this is true of? These should be the general name of the bird and mammal not a specific breed or gender. Hint: Each is a single word no more than eight letters.
I think I have the answer to this. My hint is that the letter 'e' does not appear in either the name of the bird or the mammal.
Edit: I'm still not sure if this is the intended answer, but I think it meets the puzzle statement.
A: CARDINAL --> ALPACA

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Sequence Puzzle of my Own Devising

I was just fiddling with numbers recently and came up with the following sequence:
4, 5, 5, 6, 14, 11, 8, 11, 8, 8, 13...
Can anyone tell me what the next few terms in the sequence might be? Here's a cryptic hint: 'geometry'
Edit: There's a free cherry pie for whomever can get their mind 'round this puzzle and come up with the answer...
Edit: Cherry pi? Since I posted this puzzle, my sequence has been accepted to the Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences. To generate the sequence, take the digits of pi: 3. 1 4 1 5 9 2 6 5 3 5 8 9 7 9... If you take the sum of each consecutive digit (3+1), (1+4), (4+1), (1+5) etc. you get 4, 5, 5, 6, 14 and so forth. So the next few terms are 17, 16, 16... And did anyone notice the time on the posting?

Friday, October 28, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 30) - Eli, before and after

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 30) - Eli before and after
Q: Take the name Eli and add three letters in front of it. Add the same three letters in reverse order after it to complete a familiar two-word phrase in nine letters. What is it?
Hint: The answer is something this puzzle has.
This one doesn't take much work to figure out. I found the hint wasn't that useful for finding the answer, but did serve as a confirmation, once I had found the answer. As always, I can't reveal my answer until after the deadline.
Edit: Your time is up!
TIM + ELI + MIT --> Time Limit

Friday, October 14, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 16) - Multiplication Magic Square

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 16) - Multiplication Magic Square
Q: In a standard 4 by 4 magic square you arrange the digits from one to sixteen so each row, column and corner diagonal totals 34. This is a multiplication magic square: Arrange sixteen numbers in a four by four square so that the product of each row, column and corner to corner diagonal is 5,040. You can use any numbers you want. But they have to be whole numbers and you can't repeat a number in the square. (And as a hint I'll tell you the number in the upper left corner is 42.)
Finally! A mathematical/number puzzle instead of a word puzzle! I do have an answer to the puzzle. In fact I have several since the answer is non-unique. In addition to solutions that have 42 in the upper left, and solutions that have 42 elsewhere in the puzzle, I found solutions that don't have 42 at all! As usual, I won't post any answers until after the deadline. My one hint: prime factorization.
Edit: Okay, after all that work and no one called me from NPR. Check the following PDF for the solution(s).
Magic Square Answer(s)
Edit: Since this posting, I've found 8 other arrangements that I previously missed (with 30 in them). That brings the total to 80, not 72.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 9) - Non-rhyming words starting M, N and ST

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 9) - Non-rhyming words starting M, N and ST
Q: Take the words MAY, NAY, and STAY. Except for their opening letters, M, N and ST, they're spelled the same and they rhyme. Can you name three common, un-capitalized words, starting with M, N and ST, that again are spelled the same except for these opening letters? None of the words rhyme with any of the others. The lengths of the answers are for you to determine.
Initially, I figured the answers had to be one syllable and if MONE had been a word, I would have had NONE and STONE. Instead, the answer I came up with had two-syllables for each of the non-rhyming words. Can you come up with an answer? As always, I'll reveal my answer later in the week.
Edit: When will NPR ever call me? Not this week I guess so once again here's the answer I submitted.
A: MATURE, NATURE and STATURE are the three words I came up with that have the same ending but don't rhyme.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

History of Sudoku and Killer Sudoku Variations

Daily SudokuAll of us, by now should have heard of SuDoku... if you haven't, you must have been living in a box. Or maybe it is the other way around, those of us that are hooked on SuDoku are now living in a box (in the form of a 9x9 grid).

Anyway, if you have always wondered about how this little number puzzle came about, it actually first appeared in the U.S. in the May 1979 issue of Dell Pencil Puzzles & Word Games where it was called Number Place. It is believed to be the creation of a retired architect named Howard Garns, age 74 at the time.

Several years later, in 1984 it was adopted by a puzzle group in Japan and named "Suuji Wa Dokushin Ni Kagiru" ("the numbers must be single") As it became popular, this was shortened to SuDoku (Su=number, Doku=single) and was trademarked.

Other magazines in Japan, soon copied the puzzle but went with the more generic name Nanbaapureesu (phonetically "Number Place") and often just used the English spelling. Later when it was rediscoved in the U.S. and the U.K. it was titled "SuDoku" which leads to an interesting scenario. Japanese speakers call it by its English name (Number Place) and English speakers call it by its Japanese name (SuDoku).

If you are interested in reading more of the historical details or learning about numerous sudoku variations (including Killer SuDoku a.k.a. Samunamupure or Samunanpure, Greater Than SuDoku, Samurai SuDoku, Relay SuDoku, etc.) here's a link to Ed Pegg Jr.'s article on
The History of Sudoku and Sudoku Variations.

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 2) - Four-letter O-word

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 2) - Four-letter O-word
Q: Think of a four-letter word starting with O. Change one of its letters to a new letter and rearrange to get a new four-letter word that's a synonym of the first. Then change one of its letters to a new letter and rearrange to get a third four-letter word that's a synonym of the first two. What words are these?
I think there is only one answer that fits the clues of this puzzle... but I'm not going to give you the answer until after the deadline.
Edit: Yes, I believe there is ONLY one answer that fits the clues...
ONLY --> LONE --> SOLE

Friday, September 23, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept 25) - A book becomes a writer/TV Personality

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept 25) - A book becomes a writer/TV Personality
Q: Name a well-known book in seven letters. Hint: it's spelled as a solid word. And it's so well known that many people can 'quote' from it by heart. Add three letters to the end of this title and the result will name a late writer and TV personality, with four letters in the first name and six letters in the last. What book is it and who is this celebrity?
When I first started working on this puzzle, I thought the quotable book would be the Bible, but that isn't seven letters... I guess you'll just have to wait a week and all will be revealed.
Edit: The clues were there, "first (beginning)", "Bible", "book", "week (7 days)"
A: GENESIS --> GENE SISKEL

Thursday, September 15, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept 18) - Island Hopping

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept 18) - Island Hopping
Q: Name a country, somewhere in the world. You can change its first letter to name a well known island. Or, you can change its third letter to name another well know island. What country is it?"
I won't give away my answer until after the deadline but I will give you a big hint. At least one of the islands is part of the Hawaiian island chain.
Edit: Okay, once again NPR didn't call me, so I'll just tell you my answer.
A: MALI --> BALI, MAUI

Thursday, September 08, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept 11) - Two-word place name

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept 11) - Two-word place name
We are back from camping so I can once again give you the answer to this week's NPR puzzle.
Q: Name a well-known place in the United States, with a population of at least 40,000 people. It has two words in its name. If you reverse the last three letters of the first word you'll get the first three letters of the second word. What is it?
Since the deadline has passed, here is the answer.
A: Atlantic City

Friday, August 26, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (August 28) - Alaskan Conundrum

NPR Sunday Puzzle (August 28) - Alaskan Conundrum
Q: Take a two-word phrase meaning "a difficult puzzle." Drop the first letter, read the remaining letters backward, and you'll get a word for part of Alaska. What is it?
Again, I won't give the answer before the end of the puzzle period, but I will tell you that Alaska isn't the only place to have this 'part'. Work on this on your own and I'm sure you'll have it cracked before then.
Edit: Hopefully you caught all the hints given above... Here's my answer:
A: Difficult Puzzle: HARD NUT --> Part of Alaska: TUNDRA

Thursday, August 18, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (August 21) - Supermarket Brands

NPR Sunday Puzzle (August 21) - Supermarket Brands
Q: Name two familiar products you might find in a drug store or supermarket. These are well known national brands that compete with each other. Each name has five letters. Put them together, one after the other, and you'll get a well known geographical name, also five-five. What is it?
For some reason this answer came almost immediately. Could it be coincidental that Egypt is on the same continent?
A: IVORY COAST - Ivory and Coast are competing brands of soap (from Proctor & Gamble and Dial, respectively)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (August 7) - Three take away one leaves one

NPR Sunday Puzzle (August 7) - Three take away one leaves one
Q: Think of a word in three syllables starting with the letter 'A'. Remove the 'A' and you'll be left a new word and only one syllable. What is it? Here's a hint: The first word has three vowels, counting the A.
I actually have two answers for this one, but they only differ by one letter. It's not that difficult if you think of the first 'a' as one syllable and try and figure out how the remaining letters can both make two syllables and one syllable. I don't want to give away my answer(s) until after the Thursday deadline, so check back then...
Edit: As I said, I actually have two answers that work. Here they are:
A: AGAPE (love) --> GAPE (to open the mouth wide)
AGAVE (plants having spiny-margined leaves) --> GAVE (presented to another)

Friday, July 29, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 31) - Hop, Skip and a Jump

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 31) - Hop, Skip and a Jump
Q: Think of a word that completes the two-word phrase 'BLANK-Jump.' Remove the fourth letter. The remaining letters, phonetically, make a new word that completes the phrase, 'BLANK-Hop.' What is it?
All the clues are there; just be sure that you think phonetically.
Edit: Okay, you've been patient so here's my answer
A: Bungee Jump --> Bunny Hop

Thursday, July 21, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 24) - Traveling the Periodic Table

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 24) - Traveling the Periodic Table
Q: A 10-letter word for a form of travel, that consists of five consecutive symbols of chemical elements. What is it? If automobile had been the answer, Au, would represent Gold, Mo would represent Molybdenum, and Bi, would represent Bismuth. Unfortunately, the remaining bigrams, To and Le, are not chemical symbols.
To solve this puzzle, it really helps to have a List of the elements by chemical symbol. I'm not going to give away my answer yet, but I will tell you that I did try land travel (motorcycle, snowmobile), water travel (bathyscaph, hovercraft) and even animals (rhinoceros) before I came to the correct answer. Note: as much as I wanted it to, nothing starting with "Police" worked.
Edit: Time to reveal my answer. It wasn't land or water, so that leaves air...
A: HELICOPTER
He = Helium
Li = Lithium
Co = Cobalt
Pt = Platinum
Er = Erbium

Friday, July 15, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 17) - Masked TV Crime Fighters

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 17) - Masked TV Crime Fighters
Q: Start with the name of a masked crime fighter, who had a TV show. Add the letters L, A and rearrange the results to get the name of another masked crime fighter who had a TV show. Who are these characters?"
I've solved this and I'll give the answer after the Thursday deadline. Hint: Nobody with "Super" or "Bat" in their names.
Edit: Okay, here is the answer. The tricky part is that "THE" is part of one of the names.
A: GREEN HORNET + LA --> THE LONE RANGER

Friday, July 08, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 10) - Famous American Woman

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 10) - Famous American Woman
Q: Think of a famous American woman with a three part name. When you take the first and last letters of each part of her name and rearrange them, you can make the word "berths". Who is this woman?
I know the answer to this puzzle, and I'll reveal it after the deadline on Thursday. Hint: She's not living and none of her names start with E. Edit: Okay here's the answer:
A: Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
H...T B...R S...E --> BERTHS

Friday, July 01, 2005

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 3) - Three Coins

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 3) - Three Coins
Q: An imaginary country mints coins in three denominations. Each denomination has an integral number, 1, 2, 3, etc. The amounts, 20, 23 and 29, can each be made with exactly three coins. What are the three denominations minted?
Since the deadline has passed, I can tell you my answer to the puzzle. I arrived at this answer with a little bit of experimentation and algebra. If you don't want the answer, stop reading.

A: Assume a, b and c are integers.
Let's try the following equations:

1) a + b + b = 20
2) a + a + c = 23
3) b + c + c = 29

Combining #1 and #2 we have:
2a + c = 23
2a + 4b = 40
4) 4b - c = 17

Next combining #3 and #4 we have:
4b - c = 17
4b + 8c = 116
9c = 99
5) c = 11

Combining #3 and #5 we have:
b + 22 = 29
6) b = 7

Combining #1 and #6 we have:
a + 14 = 20
7) a = 6

Thus the coins are 6, 7 and 11
6 + 7 + 7 = 20
6 + 6 + 11 = 23
7 + 11 + 11 = 29

Edit: 5, 9, 10 was given as another acceptable answer (using 2a + c = 20, 2b + a = 23, 2c + b = 29), but I personally don't like it. I read the question as if each combination could only be made with 3 coins, not more nor less. 20 could be made with two "dimes" or four "nickels" rather than 5+5+10. However, I guess it technically answers the puzzle question which is why they must have decided to allow it. I think 6, 7, 11 must have been the intended answer.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Brain-Nexus Puzzle

I was just looking ahead in my Mind-Bending Puzzles Calendar for June 25/26th and there was a puzzle to go from Brain to Nexus... The requirement was that you connect the words so that the last two letters of one word are the first two letters of the next, and all words must be 5 letters long.

The solution given was:
BRAIN -> INURE -> REGAL -> ALONE -> NEXUS.

My question to you is, am I the only one to notice that you can do it with a single word?
BRAIN -> INANE -> NEXUS.

Edit: Actually I'm not because I asked my son and he came up with the same answer.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Time is running out to register for the World Puzzle Championships...

For the last couple years I've been solving the puzzles used as the entrance exam to the World Puzzle Championship. However, I've never actually done it on the day or while adhering closely to the 2.5 hour time limit. Instead I just prefer to solve the puzzles to see if I can do it. Maybe this year I'll actually have to sign-up to see how I'd rank.

Friday, May 20, 2005