Sunday, March 24, 2024

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 24, 2024): Periodic Puzzle

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 24, 2024): Periodic Puzzle
Q: Each chemical element can be represented by a one or two-letter symbol. Hydrogen is H, helium is He, and so on. There are two commonly known elements whose names each can be spelled using three other element symbols. Name either one.
Could they be Zirconium and Tungsten, but a small quantity?

Edit: Zirconium (40) and Tungsten (74) make 4074. Convert that to hexadecimal (FEA) and add a small quantity (gram = g) and you have Fe,Ag
A: Iron = Ir (Iridium) + O (Oxygen) + N (Nitrogen), Silver = Si (Silicon) + Lv (Livermorium) + Er (Erbium)

172 comments:

  1. Easy. Got both. But a hint...

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  2. I have both, but it seems like there may be others...

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    1. Double-check the puzzle wording if you are finding others

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    2. There are many others if your "usage" includes anagramming.

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  3. Got them both, but as a Chemical Engineer I had an advantage. The two elements are often paired.

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    1. My two don't readily form a stable compound.

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    2. This clue is clear to me.

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    3. I did not know this about you. I have a degree in Chemistry, actually. Though I have no idea whether Chemistry or Chem E is preferable in solving.

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  4. Rearrange the two elements, and get a third element and a landmark or, alternately, an animal.

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    1. Hmmm... I don't get a third element, but I do get a town in South Africa or a geographic feature in France.

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    2. I've been wrong before, but I double-checked. Blaine notwithstanding, alternate answers?

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    3. Dr. K, are you saying to rearrange the element names, or the letters of the symbols? I'm not getting a third element using the names.

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    4. JAWS, I just triple-checked. Rearrange the letters of both elements' names (I realize you need only one of the two to solve the NPR puzzle), and get two words for a third element and a landmark (or alternately for "landmark," an animal). I shouldn't say more.

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    6. JAWS, et al., my hint above is based on an interpretaion of the word "spelled" in the puzzle's wording that does not lead to the intended answer. My apologies.

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    7. Jan, there is a monument near that town you might find of interest. Been there twice, once out of necessity.

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    8. A link to a recent puzzle, Howie?

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  6. About 260 correct entries last week.

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  7. Got it. Like others, I feel this is not easy to clue.

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    1. Take the atomic numbers of the two elements, and write them consecutively to create one number. Since this creates two different possible numbers, I predict that the number of correct guesses this week will be between those two numbers.

      Using Blaine's listed elements as an example, Zirconium is 40, and Tungsten is 74. If those were the two elements, the numbers would be 4074 and 7440.

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    2. With very little rearranging of the letters within the element names, I get a relative, something on my computer, and something that is picked.

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    3. Please disregard both of my comments above. Last night, after being out most of the day, I re-read the puzzle before typing up my submission, and I realized I had missed one important detail in the puzzle wording--that three elements needed to make up the name. The clues above both fail that criteria. It is interesting how many of the other clues seem to point back to one or both of these.

      I have since determined the correct elements. But, given my track record on this puzzle, I might not clue further.

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    4. I will say I'm taking the under. I think a lot of people are going to put in one of the submissions that is incorrect.

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  8. Replies
    1. But I am also perplexed by Dr. K's hint.

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    2. "[S]pelled" does not logically preclude rearrangements.

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    3. I have two answers that can be spelled without rearrangement.

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    4. Thanks, Blaine. I now have the intended second answer, too. My apologies, once again, to Blainevillage. I seem to be suffering from anagrammania. (And again, like last week, I seem to be unwittingly offering alternate puzzles.) In any case, as is, the puzzle should have been more precisely worded. As if my NCAA brackets weren't trouble enough...

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  9. Impressive puzzle. I only have one answer so far.

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    1. Ok, I got the other one. I wasn't expecting another body part puzzle so quickly.

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  10. Replies
    1. Sammy Hagar couldn't drive 55, and I couldn't see how silver could be an answer with "55" in the middle of it because I was unacquainted with Livermorium.
      I had already gotten Iridium-Oxygen-Nitrogen.
      I initially had hopes for TIN, but couldn't find an element symbolized by a lone "T", and the puzzle stipulates THREE component symbols.
      I also tried Xenon and rejected it on the basis of non-otherness. Same goes for Neon.

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  11. Hopefully a suitably circuitous clue: Kelly 11

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  12. It's not carbon and manganese.

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  13. This puzzle would come after the tree puzzle last week.

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    1. Silver is one of the elements, and last week had yew as one of the trees. Silver followed yew last year with the poplar, yew->popular puzzle on February 19, 2023 and the Si+Lv+Er=Silver puzzle on February 26, 2023.

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  14. A puzzle like this may be pretty easy but, nevertheless, I find that it ages me.

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  15. Yes, the wording limits the 4 possible answers to 2.

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  16. What a range of answers proposed this week! I like my two the best.

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  17. I've got one, and it happens to be my cat's name! Hopefully that doesn't give it away too much...

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  18. It's not really a puzzle. There are just a handful of "common" elements (if your definition is that everyone's heard of them) that are 6 letters or less. Just a few minutes looking at the periodic table is all - no challenge. Very unimpressed this week.

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    1. A better puzzle would have been how many elements can you spell with element symbols without rearranging, you can use an element in it's own name and you can repeat elements. There are more than a dozen.

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    2. Buck Bard - I agree entirely. We could say this is at best a very “Lithium Tellurium” puzzle.

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    3. Perhaps Lanthanum Molybdenum

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  19. There is an element whose NONscientific name consists of two animal names concatenated.

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    1. OK, howabout: German and Japanese each have an extremely derogatory word that consists of two animal names concatenated ... four different animals implicated. Just give their English names ...

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  20. Find a common element whose name can be spelled by concatenating 6 different common element symbols.

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  21. A certain nursery rhyme comes to mind.

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  22. I am almost totally unfamiliar with the TOL, but I got both of them quickly; the first while still in bed, but not what completed it. I also got BABAR, who is my favorite. I hope Blaine will not truncate that.

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  23. SDB: What does TOL stand for?

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    1. Good question, Natasha. It stands for me not proofreading properly. TOE

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  24. I couldn't make Watson work, but it seems he was elemental.

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    1. Hmmm. Not so for my elements in the periodic table.

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    3. This may be TMI, but it agrees with my answer.

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  26. I have the two elements… a sophomoric puzzle indeed.. there are 118 elements… beware Blaine’s picture lists only 103

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    1. Check again. And I believe it has all the latest names/abbreviations.

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    2. There may be many others but they haven't been dis-CAH-vahd.

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  27. I found a Gary Larson cartoon that links this week's puzzle with last week's.

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    1. I too saw connections with last week's puzzle.

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  28. I have 4 answers. Also, we just had the golden oldie puzzle 4 weeks ago, so that is a short gap between element puzzles.

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    1. My answers are neon, iron, silver, and xenon, but only iron and silver use 3 elements other than itself. Both iron and silver were in puzzles last year. The Si+Lv+Er=Silver puzzle on February 26, 2023 was almost exactly a year before the golden oldie puzzle on February 25, 2024. The Tina Fey->tin, Fe puzzle on January 8, 2023 was only 7 weeks before the Si+Lv+Er=Silver puzzle.

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  29. Replies
    1. I got the other one, too. Television clue: 60s and 70s.

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  30. I didn't get the second answer, but if one is enough for NPR, why argue? The sun is out and time to get away from the computer.

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  31. Happy to join the puzzle solvers club today…..unfortunately, this puzzle makes me think of Trump…..the first elementary symbol (in alphabetical order) reminds me of someone that he doesn’t particularly like, and the second elementary symbol appears to be something he’s doubly familiar with (in connection with one of his bad moments).

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  32. Combine two chemical element symbols to get the initials of a frequent contributor to this blog. What are the elements, and who is the contributor?

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    1. Nodd - I can think of two contributors (four if you allow repeated elements).

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    2. Sulfur & dubnium might work, but I can't think who the contributor is.

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    3. sdb, I guess you will have to wait till Thursday then. Lorenzo, I'll be interested to find out who the others are.

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    4. Well thanks a lot, Nodd, I really could use a hint in the meantime.

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    5. Yeah I wonder who that contributor could be.
      Perhaps, having realized for some time these pseudonymous initials signal a compound more repellent than the combined elements they represent, this contributor has contemplated a name change.
      LOL at myself. :)

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    6. Well, better to be called Boron than Boring, I guess :) lmao

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    7. OK, sdb, you win; here's a hint: It's someone we can all look up at.

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    8. Good guess -- Danny is indeed a frequent contributor here.

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    9. Skydiveboy (S + Db), Black Swan (B + S), Clark a pseudonym (Ca + P), Iris Corona (I + C) and Tommy Boy (Tb).
      Allowing repeated symbols, we can add Word Woman, Buck Bard and Kitty Katz.
      Plus, several with a single initial including Blaine, Bobby, Ben, Chuck, Crito, Curtis, Courtney, Nodd, Natasha, Paul, Pam, Snipper, Sarma, Scarlett, Wolfgang, and Unknown.

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    10. We are ALL proud graduates of Element-ary school

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  33. I found two, although one of them uses the letters for its own symbol, and the puzzle says "using three other element symbols," so I'll stick to the one that doesn't do that. Also, I found one element that uses the element symbols for four other elements. Fun!

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    1. I found the one that uses letters for its own symbol as well. I found another that uses other element symbols though...

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    2. Yeah, I had seen Neon would use Ne/O (oxygen)/ and N (nitrogen) and I missed Iron. Luckily I didn't use it and stuck to only submitting Silver.

      Arsenic can be spelled using four elements -- Ar (Argon)/ Se (Selenium)/ Ni (Nickel)/ C (Carbon).

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  34. Like my degree in Chemistry would be of *any help* in solving this week? Sigh.

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  35. Got the first one...or maybe it's the second one?

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  36. This is like deja vu all over again, if my memory serves me correctly.

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  37. Speaking again of deja vu, remember fabrics from last week? EWEFUR? Find a fabric whose name consists of two animal names concatenated.

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    1. Did you recently learn that word and now you are trying to use it in a sentence everyday so that you own it?

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    2. Over here we condogenate ;-).

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    3. EWEFUR? Fer sher, I will work it in whenever I see an opening.

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    5. TomR, I get your timely catechism. It looks fine in print.

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    6. Blaine - so sorry for not realizing my giveaway post. It wasn't even meant to be a hint - total lapse of awareness.

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  38. Both big in historic Boston.

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  39. Marching to the beat of a different drum, Curtis?

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  40. Yep, and beating the bushes, too

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  41. Replies
    1. It's clear they were having electrical power problems, which led to loss of control. On the live video feed of the Port of Baltimore", you can see the ship's lights go out at 1:24:32 EDT, back on at 1:25:31, off again at 1:26:37, and back on again at 1:27:10. At 1:26, the ship is seen turning to starboard, out of the main channel, and directly toward the southern main bridge pier, which it strikes at 1:28:43.

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    2. Maryland Governor Wes Moore said that after a mayday call was made ahead of the collapse, workers stopped cars from continuing onto the bridge, a rapid response that he said had saved lives. On that video feed, the last vehicles are seen entering the bridge at 1:27:28, and exiting at 1:28:09, seconds before the collapse. (The stationary flashing lights of a few work vehicles are seen on the bridge right up through the collapse, so those workers were apparently not notified in time.)

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    3. Now there is a rumor the captain of the container ship was on the bridge when the crash occurred.

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  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  43. Rearrange the elements to name an animal and a body of water

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    1. Jan, I think the video I watched was incorrect. It was the question about the bone from the scapula to the ulna. Jennifer answered fibula. But when I watched the tape again it sounded like the correct question was missing. I will watch the tv version now.

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  46. IRON composed of Iridium (Ir), Oxygen (O) and Nitrogen (N); SILVER composed of Silicon (Si), Livermorium (Lv), and Erbium (Er).

    "What a range of answers proposed this week! I like my two the best." pointed to both the Lone Ranger and Hi ho SILVER. Also, the number two medal in a race is generally SILVER.

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  47. Si (Silicon) + Lv (Livermorium) + Er (Erbium) = Silver
    Ir (Iridium) + O (Oxygen) + N (Nitrogen) = Iron

    Last Sunday I said, “Musical clue: C. Rossini.” Stick with me here. Rossini wrote the William Tell Overture, almost certainly his most famous work. The William Tell Overture was the theme song of The Lone Ranger TV series. The Lone Ranger’s horse was named Silver.

    I also said, “I got the other one, too. Television clue: 60s and 70s.” Ironside ran from 1967 to 1975.

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  48. 1. IRON (Fe) → Ir (Iridium) + O (Oxygen) + N (Nitrogen)


    2. SILVER (Ag) → Si (Silicon) + Lv (Livermorium) + Er (Erbium)

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  49. Iron = Iridium, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Silver = Silicon, Livermorium, Erbium

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  50. IRON (Fe) —> IRIDIUM (IR) + OXYGEN (O) + NITROGEN (N)

    and

    SILVER (Ag) —> SILICON (SI) + LIVERMORIUM (LV) + ERBIUM (ER)

    Hint: “A puzzle like this may be pretty easy but, nevertheless, I find that it ages me.”
    —> hinting at two of the “Ages” of Man according to Hesiod and Ovid —> SILVER Age and IRON Age
    (I had considered wording it “I find that it can age a man,” but I thought that would be TMI.)

    Hint: “A certain nursery rhyme comes to mind.”
    —> “London Bridge Is Falling Down,” versions of which include references to SILVER and IRON

    An alternate answer, but one that involves rearrangement of letters:
    CARBON (C) —> CHROMIUM (CR) + BARIUM (BA) + NOBELIUM (NO)

    My hint for “carbon” and “iron” (which I initially thought were the puzzle’s answers): “Rearrange the two elements, and get a third element and a landmark or, alternately, an animal.”
    —> BORON + CAIRN (which is both a landmark of stones and a type of dog)

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  51. IRoN, SiLvEr The metals anagram to Lions River, a small town in South Africa. In 1962 Nelson Mandela (who featured in a recent puzzle) was arrested a mile outside of town. This ultimately led to his Robben Island imprisonment. Today a monument marks the spot.

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  52. Only bothered to do one: IRON (iridium=IR, oxygen=O, nitrogen=N)

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  53. IRON--IR (Iridium)+O (Oxygen)
    + N (Nitrogen)

    2.) SILVER--SI (Silicon) + LV (Livermorium) + ER (Erbium)

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  54. IRON (iridium, oxygen, nitrogen), SILVER (silicon, livermorium, erbium)

    > I don't get a third element, but I do get a town in South Africa or a geographic feature in France.

    Lion's River, or River Solin

    > It's not carbon and manganese.

    Atomic numbers 6 and 25. The traditional gifts for the 6th and 25th anniversaries are IRON and SILVER

    >> This puzzle would come after the tree puzzle last week.
    > Or before it.

    Wood is the traditional gift for the 5th anniversary, wool for the 7th.

    > I found a Gary Larson cartoon that links this week's puzzle with last week's.

    It's a known fact that the sheep that give us steel wool have no natural enemies

    > Both big in historic Boston.

    Just three stops apart on the Freedom Trail: the home of SILVERsmith Paul Revere, and Old IRONsides, USS Constitution.

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  55. Iron was in one of the Jeopardy questions this week.

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    1. Jan: Do you recall the questions?

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    2. On Monday:

      WORDS READ BACKWARDS

      Read backwards, a Japanese word for dried seaweed becomes this metal

      Tuesday's Final Jeopardy:

      ELEMENTS

      In his "Natural History" Pliny described it as "argentum vivum"

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    3. Thanks! Did you know the answers?

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    4. Yes. Nori -> iron, and "living silver" -> quicksilver, or mercury.

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  56. IRON; SILVER. My hints were:
    1. Impressive puzzle. (IRONing is ImPRESSive)
    2. I wasn't expecting another body part puzzle so quickly. (LIVERmorium)

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  57. I submitted silver, but copper is technically correct

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    1. Excuse me, but how the hell is copper technically correct?
      That would be:
      copper —> Co + Pp + Er
      While Co is Cobalt and Er is Erbium, there IS NO element with the abbreviation Pp!

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    2. P is Phosphorus, and I don't think the wording of the puzzle prohibits using an element twice.
      I wish I had thought of that!

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    3. Even then it would be expressed with 4 elements, not 3.

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    4. If an element may use FOUR element abbreviations is allowed, then:

      Carbon ----> Ca + Rb + O + N
      6 20 37 8 7

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    5. It only uses 3 element symbols; it just uses one of them twice.

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    6. No, Copper can be expressed with three elements: Cobalt, Phosphorus, and Erbium. If you were building the word using full blocks from the table, like the opening of Breaking Bad, then you would need four blocks. However, two of the blocks would be the same, so you would "use" only three elements.

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    7. Hmm... I may be changing my mind.
      The second P would obviously be "other" than Cu, but wouldn't it be "the same" as the first P?

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  58. I wanted to post hints having to do with Rossini and the Lone Ranger and a horse of another color, but thought they would be TMI and possibly removed. Also Newton and an apple falling from a tree, which also hints at the apple on Bill Tell's son's head. EASY PUZZLE.

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  59. Neon (Ne=Neon, O=Oxygen, N=Nitrogen), Iron (Ir=Iridium, O=Oxygen, N=Nitrogen), Silver (Si=Silicon, Lv=Livermorium, Er=Erbium), Xenon (Xe=Xenon, No=Nobelium, N=Nitrogen)

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  60. This week's Puzzleria! features fourteen Fine-Tuned Appetizers from our "fine-fettled fiddling friend" ViolinTeddy. Her "Strad-Steiff Subtleties" preludes with eleven "Stradivari knotty homonyms, then crescendoes with a symphonically tricky triptych that spotlights palindromic, critical and ambiguous themes.
    We upload Puzzleria! on the Thursday/Friday cusp, around Midnight PDT, but likely earlier.
    Also on our menus this week are:
    * a Schpuzzle of the Week that will send you "In search of a mystery verb,"
    * a Lights! Camera! Literature! Hors d’Oeuvre titled “Movels” And “Novies,”
    * a Winter Spring Summer Or Fall Puzzle Slice titled "Seeking periods of serial time,"
    * a Triple-Threat Dessert titled "Bellicosity! Weapons! War!" and
    * a Baker's-Dozen "Riffing Off Shortz And McAllister Slices" titled “Elementary, my dear Watson... and Crick,” which includes a "Baker's-Half-Dozen" whole-grained morsels baked up by our friend Nodd.
    We invite you to join us in enjoying some sweet-stringed musical mysteries composed by our own favorite viola virtuosa, ViolinTeddy!

    LegOvertureUnderling

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  61. SILVER and IRON.

    And my clue was my attempt at serving Irony in an online post.

    Like my degree in Chemistry would be of *any help* in solving this week? Sigh.

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    1. More Sardonic than Ironic, I guess. Sigh.

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  62. TomR was right, I bin a concatenatin' fool:
    ---
    Q: Element whose NONscientific name consists of two animal names concatenated
    A: WOLFRAM = tungsten
    ---
    Q: German and Japanese extremely derogatory words that consist of two animal names concatenated
    A: "PIGDOG", "HORSEDEER"
    ---
    Q: Fabric whose name consists of two animal names concatenated
    A: BUCKRAM
    ---
    Q: Common element whose name can be spelled by concatenating 6 different common element symbols
    A: SILICON = S + I + LI + C + O + N

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  63. I eventually submitted IRON, one of the correct answers. At first, I had found Tin and Silicon, which can both be spelled using elements that are not themselves, but do not meet the requirement of using three of them. I missed that requirement while listening to the puzzle. Thinking I was done, I went about my day.

    I commented on SuperZee's clue about the two elements being paired together, that it was "clear to me," because silicon and tin are used together in making glass.

    Sunday evening, I went to enter my submission, and discovered the three element requirement. I quickly found iron and sent it in.

    I searched a little more, and found COPPER can be made, as noted above, using the symbols for Cobalt (Co), Phosphorus (P) [twice!], and Erbium (Er). Now I'm wondering if anyone will get credit for it. I think it is a valid answer, given the phrasing of the puzzle.

    I had also commented that I'm taking the under, because I think a lot of people will make a mistake similar to mine, or will submit Neon or Xenon, which use their own symbol.

    Finally, I didn't say anything because I was concerned it would be TMI, but there is no way to spell "ium" with the symbols on the table, so most of the elements were not in contention in the first place.

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  64. CA+RB+O+N works. (Using 4 symbols by definition includes using 3. The word "using" does not mean using only.)

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  65. Lepidoptera includes butterflies, as in Iron Butterfly

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  66. My circuitous clue: Kelly 11
    Kelly Slater is an American professional surfer, best known for being crowned World Surf League champion a record 11 times. He is a “surfer man”, and Avengers Annual #11 comic is a matchup of the characters “Silver” Surfer and “Iron” Man.

    Regarding alternate answers, if "using" other symbols extends to anagramming them, then other common elements are possible answers, including boron (from Br, O, and No), carbon (from Ca, Rb, and No), cesium (from Cm, Eu, and Si), copper (from Ce, Po, and Pr), and radon (Ar, Nd, O).

    If you consider the four elements of classical cosmology, you can form "water" from "W" (tungsten), "At" (astatine), and "Er" (erbium).

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  67. Replies
    1. Ends in a number, let it slumber ;-). Thanks for sharing, jan.

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  68. My reference to joining the puzzle solvers club was a reference to golf club, or “iron”. My Trump references were to AG (attorney general) and Fe, as in Trump’s infamous “covfefe”.

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  69. This week's challenge: In honor of women's history month, all our challenge contributors in March have been women. To close out the month, I have this related challenge.

    The English language developed in a patriarchal society, so many words in our language were traditionally assumed to be male, and turned into female versions by adding a prefix or suffix. Waiter and waitress, comedian and comedienne — those are just two examples of the many stereotypically "male" words that become new "female words" by adding a suffix.

    There is a common English word that works the opposite way. What is the common English word that is generally used to refer exclusively to women, but which becomes male when a two-letter suffix is added?

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  70. Got it. Pretty easy, actually.

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  71. One answer came into my mind immediately, so I submitted that.

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  72. Just noticed this postscript: (There are two possible answers, but you only have to submit one for credit)

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  73. If I've got them right, they're both pretty easy. Waiting for Blaine...

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  74. Over 1500 correct entries last week.

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    1. IRON was pretty accessible. If both answers had been required, I think the number would have been significantly lower. I don't think Greg's examples this week are very good, though, as neither one really follows the rules. PRINCE and PRINCESS and HEIR and HEIRESS would have been better.

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  75. Replies
    1. Last week (3/24) still works but this week (3/31) doesn't. Weird bug.

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    2. Is there some parameter you can set when creating a new week's blog that allows/prohibit email notifications?

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For NPR puzzle posts, don't post the answer or any hints that could lead to the answer before the deadline (usually Thursday at 3pm ET). If you know the answer, submit it to NPR, but don't give it away here.

You may provide indirect hints to the answer to show you know it, but make sure they don't assist with solving. You can openly discuss your hints and the answer after the deadline. Thank you.