sorabji.com: What is your definition of hell?: RIDDLE ME THIS, RIDDLE ME THAT

By CRYPTOLOGIST on Tuesday, March 5, 2002 - 03:49 pm:

    Being a wildlife enthusiast, Codey couldn't resist an invitation from a local birdwatching society to help with a recent bird banding trip. The scales used to record the weight of each bird, however, must have been designed by a puzzle maker rather than a biologist. Instead of the physical weight of the bird, the reading on the scales represented the weight of the bird's name. Below are the readings for each of the birds banded that day.

    Each letter has an associated numerical value and the total of all the letters is the bird's weight. For example, if the letter A, B, C, D, I, K, L and R had the values 15, 3, 22, 7, 20, 12, 19 and 1 respectively, the weight of a BLACKBIRD would be 102 (3+19+15+22+12+3+20+1+7). Unfortunately, the scales broke just before Codey weighed the last bird.

    Your puzzle solving mission is to figure out what that last bird--the hummingbird--should have weighed.
    Your puzzle solving mission is to figure out what that last bird--the hummingbird--should have weighed.

    barn owl 56
    oriole 49
    condor 32
    osprey 56
    egret 67
    pelican 63
    eider 53
    pintail 64
    falcon 54
    quail 49
    finch 58
    robin 27
    grebe 59
    snipe 43
    grouse 62
    sparrow 41
    gull 72
    stork 50
    hawk 59
    tanager 64
    heron 42
    tern 38
    ibis 34
    vireo 44
    junco 48
    warbler 66
    loon 28
    wren 43
    hummingbird ?

By NSA on Tuesday, March 5, 2002 - 03:56 pm:

    Birds of a Feather
    This puzzle was created by one of NSA's master puzzle makers. It requires you to solve linear equations and do some cryptanalysis. The puzzle is more difficult than it initially appears. Just remember that it can be solved using the information provided without the benefit of a computer. A pencil and paper and some persistence are all you need. Of course, if you want to write a program to help solve the puzzle, that's okay, too.

By Fb on Tuesday, March 5, 2002 - 04:03 pm:

    what's my swallow weigh?
    hint: it's a mouthful

By Christopher on Tuesday, March 5, 2002 - 05:00 pm:


    Do you want the proof?

By spunky on Tuesday, March 5, 2002 - 05:17 pm:

    Reduce the linear system.


    WREN-TERN reduces to W-T=5

    HERON-TERN reduces to H+O-T=4

    TANAGER-TERN reduces to 2A+G=26

    EGRET-GREBE reduces to T-B=8

    Using O+I=11, (GREBE+TERN+(O+I)-EGRET-ROBIN reduces to E=14
    Using E=14 and 2A+G=26, 2(TANAGER)-EGRET-TERN reduces to N+2A=11

    Make assumptions and produce putative partial solutions.

    If N+2A=11 and N>0 and A>0 then A=1,2,3,4 or 5. Create a table in which each row represents a putative partial solution derived using the assumed value of A and E=14. For example, from step 1 we know that 2A+G=26. If a putative solution for A is found then a solution for G can be found also. Using WREN and assuming values for N results in putative values for W+R. Likewise GREBE produces putative values for R+B and WARBLER produces putative values for L. LOON produces putative values for O.

    Start eliminating putative solutions.
    Putative Values for Variables
    Solution A N G W+R R+B L O
    1 1 9 24 20 7 24
    2 2 7 22 22 9 19 1
    3 3 5 20 24 11 14
    4 4 3 18 26 13 9 8
    5 5 1 15 28 15 4
    LOON has a weight of 28 and therefore L+N must be divisible by two. Eliminate solutions 1, 3 and 5.

    Eliminate solution 4.

    Calculate putative values for I and R using O+I=11 and ORIOLE. Use EIDER to calculate putative values for D. Substituting D=15 into CONDOR yields C=-9. Therefore eliminate solution 4.

    You are then left with this:
    Solution A N G W+R R+B L O I R D C
    2 2 7 22 22 9 19 1 10 4 11 8
    4 4 3 18 26 13 9 8 3 7 15 -9
    By a simple process of elimination, A=2, N=7, G=22, L=19, O=1, etc. is the solution. Solve for remaining letters.

    Complete the mixed alphabet = OAPRBQNCSIDUTEVHFWLJ_GK_Y_ except for M, X, and Z
    Recover key matrix and determine M=26
    O R N I T H L G Y

    A B C D E F J K M

    P Q S U V W X Z
    Calculate HUMMINGBIRD = 149.

    Very good, Christopher.
    May I ask, where are you from?

By Mr. Sniffer Outer on Tuesday, March 5, 2002 - 05:43 pm:

By Christopher on Tuesday, March 5, 2002 - 06:21 pm:

    I'm from SF. I love math games, and knew this answer from some time back. Yes I solved it on my own, but not today. Magic squares are a great launching point into the madness of numerology. Soon you'll see *patterns* everywhere. Its fun to play with anagrams as well. My favorite anagram involves Vincent Price's finest movie: "The Abominable Dr. Phibes". In this film, where he seeks revenge of a biblical proportion against the surgical team who tried to save his wife (and failed), he is assisted by a mysterious agent from beyond...The beautiful Vulnavia. Since Phibes himself is slightly undead, he places himself into hibernation with the ravishing corpse of his dear departed wife, Victoria, when he is not busy dispatching physicians with bats, bees and boils. It is assumed that Vulnavia, too, remains in stasis until such time as she is beckoned by the good Doctor. With that background, take a look at the anagram that I discovered:

    The Abominable Dr. Phibes =
    A Hibernated Bimbo Helps.

    Pretty cool, ain't it?

By spunky on Tuesday, March 5, 2002 - 07:58 pm:

    I work for the CPSG (Cryptology Program Systems Group) division of AIA (Air Intelligence Agency).
    It is part of DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency). Part of my job IS electronic encryption.

By Christopher on Tuesday, March 5, 2002 - 09:19 pm:

    Thats cool. I'm really into mathematics. I have Von Neumanns autograph, as well as a neat signed photo of Kurt Godel. My interest in mathematics is currently in the direction of fluid dynamics (Thanks to Douglas Hofstadter's very cool book on the subject), but eventually will return to prime numbers. Thats where all the REALLY freaky stuff happens. Its nice to see math stuff here.

By Antigone on Wednesday, March 6, 2002 - 02:39 am:

    I once dreamed that I was generating PI in binary using cellular automata I evolved using a genetic algorithm.

By Nate on Wednesday, March 6, 2002 - 03:51 am:

    i once dreamed i took a piss in antigone's coffee while he wasn't looking because he was generating PI in binary using cellular automata he evolved using a genetic algorithm.

    and then he drank it.


By patrick on Wednesday, March 6, 2002 - 11:28 am:

    my head hurts already.

By LoneStranger on Thursday, March 7, 2002 - 07:05 pm:

    My head hurt just thinking about reading that.



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