## Thursday, May 14, 2009

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 10): Another Numeric Brainteaser - Not!

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 10): Another Numeric Brainteaser:
Q: If 5 = 4, 7 = 17, 9 = 25 and 35 = 2, what does 14 equal?
Will Shortz admitted this is a tough puzzle. Frankly, I'd be surprised if many people are able to figure this one out. It took me all day, but I'm positive I have the right answer now.

Edit: It's after the deadline, so I can reveal my clues here. First the title indicates that you shouldn't be focusing on this as a numeric puzzle. The second sentence has another hint to the solution with the word "Frankly". The sentence also ends with word "out" and the opposite is "in". Putting that together you get "Frankly-in" or just "Franklin". There are better clues in the comments, so look through those for more details.
A: The key is first names of the U.S. presidents.

The 5th president was James Monroe. The earliest president that shared the same first name was #4 James Madison.

The 7th president was Andrew Jackson who shared his first name with #17 Andrew Johnson.

The 9th president was William Henry Harrison who shared his first name with #25 William McKinley.

The 35th president was John F. Kennedy who shared his first name with #2 John Adams.

The 14th president was Franklin Pierce who shared his first name with the 32nd president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

14 = 32

1. Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any outright spoilers before the deadline of Thursday at 3pm ET. If you know the answer, click the link and submit it to NPR, but don't give it away here. Thank you.

2. P.S. Here's one other clue --> 1 = 41

3. Got it. Nice.

4. Blaine, can you please post a hint? This week's puzzle is unusually tough. Thanks.

5. This one was downright nasty!

Having completed it, though, I’ve certain that 44 = 44.

-- Other Ben

6. Question. Can you reverse the numbers as well? i.e. 5=4 and 4=5, or does four equal a different number?

7. Ludocgirl,

The process to generate the new number doesn't necessarily reverse.

I see one instance in Will Shortz's clue where X=Y and Y=X as well. But even though 4=5, 5 does not equal 4 in this puzzle.

I've already said enough, though, so I'm mum for a bit. We like to clue but not to open the floodgates, especially given that it's only Monday.

-- Other Ben

8. Other Ben

Is that a typo??

Don

9. Ludocgirl,

I wouldn't say that the equality is necessarily symmetric. For example, 35=2, but I would guess that 2=6.

Hope that helps.

10. And I would disagree with Other Ben... I would say that 5=4 and 4=5.

11. Also, I don't know if the rule should be 44=44, but I can go with that convention.

12. I've been working since yesterday and have barely got anywhere. Is it a math of language puzzle?

13. Craig,

I'm finding it hard to say more without giving it away. Perhaps I'm erring on the side of diplomacy, but this puzzle is decidedly a challenge to clue.

Don,

If you meant "I've" intead of "I'm," then that was indeed a typo. With so many minds rallying to decipher this one, I regret if I sent the "Blaine Nation" down a hopeless course.

Blaine's first clue is the best one.

-- Other Ben

14. Involving calculus would be overkill. But even a person with a graduate degree in English from Oxford might struggle with this. So you decide if it is a math or language problem. :-)

15. I've been a lost boy with this puzzle. Better ask my wife the civil engineer for help.

16. I've been watching your blog like a hawk. I have mashed up the clues, and now I have it! Thanks All

17. Much as I hate to disagree with my brother in arms Other Ben, I agree with Blaine. I'd say 4=5 and 5=4.

Got it now. It was the 44=44 that gave it away to me.

Thanks for the help, guys. I post a standing offer on my blog to email a hint to people, and I've had crazy blog traffic and hint requests for the past two days because this puzzle is so hard. I was starting to feel like a fraud that I didn't have the answer yet!

By the way, I don't get the M*A*S*H references in Al's post above. I know I have the right answer and I can't see what M*A*S*H, Alan Alda, Larry Gelbart, etc. have to do with it.

-Original Ben

18. Dear Original Ben,

How dare you side with Blaine! Sucking up to the host, soooo low.

You are a charlatan and a fraud and an affront to all Bens everywhere, especially puzzle-solving Bens.

Feh,

- - Other Ben

19. 44=44 what kind of hint is that ?

Although you could say 22 = 24, which is kinda almost the same

20. And, of course again and again and again and again, one certainly is soooo ... not led ... to think at all egalitarian on this particular issue either. Therefore, flip / reversed: 4 = 8, 92 = 8, 52 = 80, 52 also = 96, 84 = 88, 92 = 96 and 88 = 92.

21. So according to Ben, 4=5, and according to Blue, 4=8 and 92=8. Very interesting.

22. Seems like blue has a different solution. I'm thinking this is related to math but it doesn't seem to be non-linear..

23. Blue seems to have thrown us a curveball. Well, it's his party... His puzzle is related to the NPR Puzzle, but it is not the same. His has some math to it. Think GCD.

24. This one is tough enough that you may have to go back to school to figure it out. Like in southern most New Hampshire.

25. It took a lot of informal conversations to finally spark my brain into figuring out the answer to this puzzle.I do find the timing curious though, more fit for a February Puzzler..

26. That was a better than good clue Ken. It made a lot of sense to me. Now if I can keep my positive attitude and carefully divide my time, I just might be able to solve this week's puzzle.

27. I am Blue. I am Woman. Hear me roar. Hear me roar in numbers so wee that we’ve, in this regard, always always always always, every quad, been … sore ignored.

Flip / reverse.

Flip / reverse the standard operating thinking!

And check, then, over the years the Other’s dance cards, er, My Party’s tickets.

And as regards math? The only math in mine is the veridicality that there are 47 percent males in the World … leaving, then, the Other as THE very, very clear … MAJority.

28. can you just give a hint in the right direction? i dont really know where to start does it have somehting to do with elections, states, or presidents?

29. I'm sure I'm going to conk my head when I finally do figure this out, but I'm stumped so far. Of course, I think I've only had a few brief moments to consider it this week.

30. PS, no (intentional) hints in my comment. I truly am stumped.

31. Bonnie, I don't want to spoil anything. Keep reading the clues because I get the feeling you might figure it out soon. If I were you, I'd focus on clues from Ben and Other Ben (yes, same name but they are different people).

32. is it that i look at the words? i am so frustrated! do the numbers maybe represent somehting like 35 days = 2 weeks? (i know that doesnt make sense but that is just an idea)

33. I'm new here so please be kind. Be careful not to make your clues too transparent. For example, don't venture into the forties. It's OK to show something like 2=6 and 25=27.

34. Al said "... I have mashed up the clues", which I don't understand. Maybe it wasn't meant to be a clue. Or, maybe one can mash up the clues and put them in a pot for us.

35. Bonnie, I think you'll get it soon. In fact, your first comment was already inside the "pot", even if it wasn't meant for us.

37. Eddie, since you hinted Bonnie was sort of close, could you share whether this is something most people would have to look up?

38. You need to think outside the box. Go beyond equilateral triangles, hexagons and octagons. Perhaps an ellipse would be good, you know, that egg shape...

39. Wolfgang, I believe most people need to look it up, but they all know a few on the list by heart.

40. I'm as lost as most of the others. Two hints used the word "positive." Does that have anything to do with the answer? What's shaped like an egg besides a football, Blaine?

41. "Other Ben" first said that 44 = 44. Does the list even go beyond... let's say... 52?

42. Without naming names, some of the clue providers really helped me solve this.

43. Wolfgang is really close to the solution. With some help, I solved it and will be bidin' my time until Sunday morning.

44. Fewer than 24 hours to wait. Deadline is at 3pm Eastern. Really hope one of us get called this week given that the number of entries should be way down this week.

45. Blaine, did you remove my last comment? Was it because my clues were too obvious?

46. Yes, I thought your clues in that post and subsequent post gave too much away.

47. I'm getting closer, thanks to the clues. And though I have not at last named the answer to this puzzle, Eddie's mashed up clue does make sense to me, while apparently not some others. Maybe other's eyes are only aware of the pseudonym and not how the actual might apply to the response you might send to Mr. Shortz.

--Jim

48. I guess I meant Al's mashed up clue.

49. In the fictional world, MacKenzie makes the list.

50. MacKenzie in fiction! Lovely and excellent, Sir Ken!

By that measure then, in fiction, 1 = 1 as well as does, in reality, 44 = 44.

51. You guys and gals are great! Thanks to your hints, I finally got it. By the way, I actually do have a Ph.D in math (really) and it was of no help whatsoever! I wasted a lot of time pondering the various contradictory ways the given numbers 5, 7, 9, and 35 could be combined to get 14.

52. Last year at this time I was on vacation in a small seaside town in Italy. This week, I traveled to the Pacific NW and BC and again stayed at a small seaside town. The name of this year's town is obtained from last year's by dropping the first three letters. Where was I?

53. Thanks for all the clues, especially to Ben! Like most of us, I think that it's a good thing that 44 equals 1 and does not equal 2, 6, 10 or 35.

54. Blaine, sorry for my too obvious clues. Hope I didn't spoil it for some people. This is my first time in the blog, and I underestimated the IQ of the community. I shall be more careful next time.

55. Sir Lorenzo,

There is indeed a Fredonia, Washington, which would map from the Italian port of Manfredonia as you suggest.

But I don't think of Fredonia WA as a seaside village -- more of a suburb of Bellingham, a coastal paper mill town. I only know about it via a college friend who hailed from Bellingham.

Is that what you were aiming for?

-- Other Ben

P.S. If it is Freedonia, by the way, then my secretary might name it "31" in the current puzzle.

56. I'm stuck...I got the first half of the clue...i.e. the 5, 7, 9, 35...I know what that is referencing. I just don't see how it applies to the 4, 17, 25, and 2. Can someone clue me into that part of it? Maybe you can just tell me who above is giving that part of the clue...aaaargh!

Thank you,

Jim

57. Jim:

I err with the lead of his clue, however: 1 = 1 in fiction and, in reality, 44 = 1 as well.

I apologize.

58. Other Ben: Interesting, but both of my seaside towns are northeast of yours.

59. Which is it, 44 = 44 or 44 = 1? And apparently I would have to know a specific piece of fiction--is that *by* a MacKenzie or is that *with* a MacKenzie in it?

60. I think the consensus is still that 44=44. Perhaps it was a typo on Dave's part.

61. Thanks, Blaine. So are there a real-world AND a fictional part to be considered? And would they both be specific to the United States?

62. Since we are discussing numbers, notice they are all integers and therefore part of the real number line. Don't delve into √(-1) or anything imaginary; that will probably only confuse. Does that help?

63. Actually, I know it's all integers, and it must be a nonlinear association between the left and right side of the "=" sign. I am considering lists with totals of 44, 50, and 52 items, respectively, with the third being universal (rather than U.S. specific). As for the association, I am considering rank orders of sorts (which would still result in integers). Does the alphabet come into play at all on either side of the "=" sign?

64. You are on the right track. I'm not sure if you are going on a straight track or around a loop. Perhaps you should go back to the beginning.

65. My phone rang just before noon PDT. It was an unfamilar phone number! NPR! NOT!!

66. Wolfgang,

It is a list of US Presidents. And my hint that 44 = 44 was both a pointer to the list (which has 44 items in the series) and the fact that there is only a single President named Obama.

Or at least I'm pretty certain of that.

-- Other Ben

67. Oops. Excuse me. Barack.

-- Other Ben

68. Okay, the deadline has passed, so it's okay to start discussing your hints above. The answer is related to the first names of the Presidents of the United States.

My first comment was 1 = 41 which refers to George Washington and George H. Bush. 2 = 6 refers to John Adams and John Quincy Adams. 44 = 44 refers to Barack Obama who has no other president with the same name, so I guess 44 = 44.

69. In replying to the question about math or language, I said "Involving calculus would be overkill. But even a person with a graduate degree in English from Oxford might struggle with this."

That was another hint to ignore math, but it also hinted that it was U.S.-centric puzzle.

70. When I said, "You need to think outside the box. Go beyond equilateral triangles, hexagons and octagons. Perhaps an ellipse would be good, you know, that egg shape..."

That was a hint to an OVAL --> Oval Office

And in replying to Bonnie, I said, "If I were you, I'd focus on clues from Ben and Other Ben (yes, same name but they are different people)."

That was a direct reference to look at the first names of people.

71. In a comment about the looming deadline, I said, "Fewer than 24 hours to wait. Deadline is at 3pm Eastern. Really hope one of us get called this week given that the number of entries should be way down this week."

The first letter in each sentence forms the initials FDR.

72. Finally, in replying to Wolfgang I said, "You are on the right track. I'm not sure if you are going on a straight track or around a loop. Perhaps you should go back to the beginning."

That was another reference to an OVAL race track. It also implied he should look at the first item in his list which is 44 (the number of U.S. Presidents).

The clues were there if you were paying attention. :-)

73. Oh, one I forgot. When I said, "also, I don't know if the rule should be 44=44, but I can go with that convention." I chose the word "convention" to make you think of the election process.

74. The best clue for me was at the top -- Blaine's title, "Another Numeric Brainteaser - Not!", which told me it wasn't about numbers.

And since there was a 35 = 2, I presumed I needed a series that had at least 35 items, which removed planets, hours, most alphabets, and names of the "Banana Splits."

After solving, I stuck in a bunch of hints regarding "diplomacy" and the "Blaine nation" (with apologies to Stephen Colbert). And then when I guessed "Fredonia" as the answer to Lorenzo's puzzle, I misspelled it in the PostScript as "Freedonia" and noted that "my secretary might name it "31" in the current puzzle."

I can't imagine any serious puzzle geek who doesn't watch the Marx Brothers, and anyone who knows Duck Soup would remember Zeppo as the Secretary of Freedonia. Zeppo's real name is Herbert, so he maps to President #31, the previous President to drive us into a great depression, Herbert Hoover.

Nevertheless, NPR hasn't called. Sigh.

-- Other Ben

75. I leave it to others to explain their clues, but I did want to say that Eddie had a good clue when he replied "Bonnie, your first comment was already inside the "pot", even if it wasn't meant for us."

That was a hint to POTUS --> President of the United States. He used the same words in a later comment but put POT and US in big letters which I thought was too obvious a clue so I deleted it.

76. In the fictional TV series "Commander In Chief", MacKenzie Allen (played by Geena Davis) is the President of the United States. So my clue is to look at the first name of the President. Also, since I wrongly assumed Blue's gender, I flipped my thinking and chose a woman president (hear her roar). I could have said "Josiah makes the list", but that would have been more of a give-away.

77. My clue about "informal conversations making a spark" was pointing to the fireside chats FDR had, and then I put in about this being a better February puzzle ie President's Day...see you all on Sunday for more rousing puzzle solving...

78. "44 = 44" is logically flawed under the premise of this puzzle--see Blaine's hint "same name but they are different people." ("Different" is key! But I can't blame the puzzle author David Hill here...)

That flawed inclusion of "44" threw me off, but I do acknowledge others still found that helpful...

What should have done the trick for me was the MacKenzie hint, since the #1 probability I was considering was still U.S. presidents. Just google "MacKenzie president," and the first search result you get is a Wikipedia page that talks about the TV show Ken cited. Arrrrgh!

79. I questioned 44=44 also, but in the absence of another president with the name Barack... plus, as you noted, it gives you the last number in the list.

My thinking was similar to yours. I looked at the range of the numbers. I first thought the "answers" had to be letters because they were in the range 1-26 but that wasn't working. Thinking of other lists, I thought of states (50) and or capitals. Comparing the lists alphabetically and then in entry into the union looked promising, but again didn't work. Finally I settled on presidents. Again I tried comparing rank order to alphabetical order, both with last name and then first name. That finally revealed the answer to the puzzle.

80. I knew Kennedy was the second youngest president at inauguration. I checked and found he was the 35th president (35=2!). I was sure that was the formula but it didn't work for the others. 44=44 (Obama) and references to "egg-shaped" (oval) made me sure I was somewhere in the ballpark. Another clue mentioned needing to "look it up". So back to the list of presidents and it was just a matter of time to see the pattern.

81. i can't believe i didn't get that! i was thinking of the presidents, which number they were, where they came from, what year they were born, and pretty much everything but their names... that was a great puzzle and you all dropped some really clever hints that i didn't really catch!

82. i hope there's more puzzles like the number ones. i really enjoy trying to figure them out

83. Ben helped me out immensely last night. He e-mailed me a clue that mentioned the term "term" three times in one sentence. After I figured out the answer, he told me that he didn't intentionally use the term "term," but as soon as I read it the answer jumped out at me.

Blue, I have no idea what your clues are about. How does 88=92? If anything, you just threw everybody off track unless I'm missing something here.

84. Oops, I meant three times in two sentences.

85. I spent hours on this, but had to give up...**sigh**. While I had knew the clue was about presidents, I kept thinking we were ranking them somehow...It never occurred to me to match up the second number to a different president. Had I done that, the first name idea would have clicked. Thanks all for the clues. This was a fun one.

Oh, and I hope Al gets on here to explain his M*A*S*H clue...I liked that one.

Jim

86. Hi folks. Alan Alda played Benjamin FRANKLIN PIERCE on M*A*S*H. aka (...hawk. I...)as it appeared in my clue. I waited by the phone at 3pm but no luck,

87. O O O ... NO idea, I'm told?

As in ... "not led." Because no one of us has ever been in THIS "lead"ership so there is no idea that it even could happen -- or has, ... even at the least, been hoped to happen?

Well, having "no idea"'d be NOT surprising to me, BUT NOT everyone operates under the (utterly usual) standard androcentric measure.

In fact, (most of) the 53 percent of the World who are us Not Males do not ... automatically ... twist into only one thinking's direction. We Not Males FLIP / REVERSE aaaaall matters.

4 = 8, 92 = 8, 52 = 80, 52 also = 96, 84 = 88, 92 = 96 and 88 = 92 is ONLY (purposefully) missing a few 20s and a few more 19s ... as in

2004 = 2008
1992 = 2008
1952 = 1980
1952 = 1996
1984 = 1988
1992 = 1996
1988 = 1992

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_United_States_presidential_and_vice-presidential_candidates

= ... every quad THE ... -POT- sooo NOT in the smoked pipes of -US-, the MAJority.

88. This was ridiculous. I never would have gotten it.

89. I repeat: If you are hankering for a word/number puzzle get the Washington Post Sunday puzzle "Testing Your Forty-Tude." It's by Mel Reagle. All the theme answers involve word answers representing numbers that total 40.

90. Anyone who wants Geri's recommended crossword puzzle by Merl Reagle "Testing Your Forty-Tude" can get it at:

http://www.sundaycrosswords.com/ccpuz/TestingYourFortytude.pdf

91. I adore Merl Reagle puzzles! Thanks for the recommendation, Geri and for the link, Joe W.

31+9,52-12,5x8,22+18,4x10,29+1

92. I actually considered it had something to do with president names and the relationship between their position and the number of letters in the names. But after reading some of the clues I thought not. I was totally confused this week and did not submit.

93. Jim, you were so close to getting the answer but just couldn't nail it down. You'll get next week's puzzle.

94. Thanks, Dave...I'm sure I will.

95. Blaine, I'm glad you approve. I think you have a type in you spoiler alert: It's 39+l, not 29+1.

96. Blaine, We all make 'em--typo, not type.

97. Geri, and 1, not l.

98. According to Liane, there were fewer than 200 entries for this puzzle!

99. All these clues make so much sense once you know the answer. I particularly enjoyed the oval references.