A Puzzly Story for the Whole Family!

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers!

In honor of a day dedicated to family and giving thanks for the many blessings in our lives, I’ve got a puzzly story to share with you.

Let’s start with a brain teaser: Samuel was born first, but his twin brother Ronan is older. How is that possible?

[Image courtesy of Cape Cod Healthcare’s Facebook page.]

The answer? When Daylight Savings Time gets involved.

In the early hours of Sunday, November 6, Emily Peterson was at the hospital with her husband Seth, delivering twin boys. But after the birth of her son Samuel, the time change got involved and made the blessed event a tiny bit stranger.

From an article on Fox News, passed along to me by friend of the blog Gina Kanter:

Emily Peterson gave birth to the first baby, Samuel, at 1:39 a.m., before clocks turned back at 2 a.m. […] Then, 31 minutes later, she delivered Ronan. Because Ronan’s birth came after the time change, his official birth time was 1:10 a.m., not 2:10 a.m.

And although one of the nurses said she’s never seen something like this in 40 years of work as a nurse, the father wasn’t surprised. “I said earlier that night that they were either going to be born on two different days or the time change was going to come into play.”

Of course, we know which child is actually older, but when you look at the delivery times and then ask who is older, it makes for a great story. It’s not every child that inspires a brain teaser on his day of birth, so kudos to Ronan and Samuel for creating a wonderful little puzzly gem.

Have a marvelous holiday!

And don’t forget, our Penny Dell Sudoku app contest ends at midnight tonight! Click here for the full details!

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It’s Follow-Up Friday: For the Wynne edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’d like to return to the subject of Arthur Wynne.

[Image courtesy of express.co.uk.]

In 1913, Arthur Wynne created the first modern crossword puzzle — which he called a Word-Cross puzzle — and over a hundred years later, we are still enjoying the ever-increasing variety of puzzles and clues spawned by that “fun”-filled grid. (Click here for more details on that groundbreaking puzzle.)

Wynne was born on June 22, 1871 in Liverpool, England, but moved to the states in the early 1890s, spending time in Pittsburgh and New York City before creating his Word-Cross puzzle for the New York World. (We can also credit Wynne with the use of symmetrical black squares in crossword grids.)

So, in honor of Mr. Wynne’s 144th birthday, I’ve got a little word creation puzzle for you! How many words of four or more letters can you make from the letters in ARTHUR WYNNE’s name?

I came up with 110! Can you match or top my wordcount? Let me know!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

“Outside the Box” Brain Teaser Solving!

Over the past few months, we’ve focused on logic puzzles quite a bit. Whether we’re figuring out Cheryl’s birthday, determining the weights of island castaways with a seesaw, or puzzling out which members of the starship Enterprise crew are fierce Fizzbin players, we’ve been fixating on deduction as a key puzzle-solving skill.

But outside-the-box thinking can be just as valuable when it comes to puzzling, especially when brain teasers are involved.

If there are ten birds on a telephone wire and you shoot one, how many are left?

At first glance, the answer is nine. But if you think beyond the mechanics of the question and into the real world consequences, you’ll realize the real answer is zero, because the other nine birds would take off when they heard the gunshot.

Let’s apply this kind of thinking to a mathematical brain teaser that reportedly baffled 96% of America’s top math students.

I can already sense eyes glazing over at the prospect of applying formulas and delving into high-end mathematics, but trust me: a little outside-the-box thinking will simplify this puzzle immensely.

Now, remember that the string is wound symmetrically around the rod. That’s key to this. When you look at the rod, the distance from the string to the next loop of the string is the same. So each loop is 3 centimeters.

How does this help us? Well, we know the circumference of the rod is 4 centimeters. Between these two pieces of information, we can ignore the rod entirely and mentally flatten it out into a rectangle.

Now we’re not dealing with a rod and a string, we’re dealing with four diagonal lines. And with one of the best known mathematical principles — the Pythagorean theorem — we can determine the length of one of those lines.

We’ll treat the diagonal as the longest side of a right triangle. The rod has a circumference of 4 centimeters, which means the triangle has a length of 4 centimeters. Each loop has a width of 3 centimeters, which means the triangle has a width of 3 centimeters. And the Pythagorean theorem — A squared + B squared = C squared, meaning 4 squared + 3 squared = our diagonal squared — gives us 16 + 9 = our diagonal squared. So 25 = our diagonal squared, which means 5 = our diagonal.

And since that diagonal appears four times, since our string wraps around the rod four times, our total length of string is 20 centimeters.

Okay, yes, that was a lot of math, but it would have been much MORE math had we not thought outside-the-box and tackled it from a different angle.

Now, I realize that I tend to pass myself off as a topnotch puzzler and brain-teaser specialist, but there have been plenty of times in the past when a brain teaser has bested me because I wasn’t thinking outside the box.

Here’s one that stumped me recently.

You have a set of 3 light switches. One of them controls a light in a room upstairs. You can turn the light switches on or off as many times as you like.

You can go upstairs — one time only — to see the light. You cannot see the whether the light is on or off from downstairs, nor can you change the light switches while upstairs.

No one else is in the room to help you.

Based on the information above, how would you determine which of the three light switches controls the light inside the room?

Let me give you a minute to think about this one.

Okay, did you get it?

Now, the key here is maximizing the amount of information you can get from that single trip upstairs to observe the light. And it takes thinking outside-the-box to do that.

Here’s what you do:

Flip the first switch, and leave it on for a few minutes. Then shut it off, and flip the second switch. Leaving the second switch flipped, head upstairs.

Now, visually, there are two possible outcomes: either the light is on or it’s off. If the light is on, you know the second switch controls the light.

If the light is off, however, there are still two possibilities. In this problem, it’s easy to fixate on information from your eyes, but the solve depends on another sense.

Remember how we flipped the first switch and left it on for a while? Well, if the first switch controls the light, we’ll be able to feel residual warmth from the light being on if we touch the light. If the third switch controls the light, the light will still be cool.

And there you go: one trip upstairs, one answer.

So, now that we’ve handed deduction puzzles and outside-the-box stumpers, you should be ready to tackle any riddles and brain teasers you encounter!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

Happy Birthday, PuzzleNation Blog!

That’s right, my fellow puzzle fiends and PuzzleNationers! One year ago today, the very first PuzzleNation Blog post went live on WordPress, and we’re overjoyed to embark on a new year of sharing puzzly goodness of all sorts with you!

After 365 days, 170 posts, and hours and hours of discussing the best and brightest, the weirdest and most wonderful, the most fascinating aspects of the worldwide puzzle community, we’re still going strong and busier than ever!

With the recent launch of our Classic Word Search iBooks (Volumes one, two and three!), as well as our interview feature 5 Questions (new one coming Thursday! Check out the first two installments here and here!), we’ve been looking forward quite a bit lately.

So we thought we’d take this opportunity to look back and chronicle some of the awesome achievements that our homebase, PuzzleNation.com, has accomplished since its launch.

It started with seven games — Tanglewords, Classic Crossword, StarSpell, Classic Sudoku, Crossword Raiders, Classic Word Search, and Guessworks — later adding Diggin’ Words, Classic Fill-In, and Invisible Word Search to the roster of playable puzzle games.

(Stormy, Barkley, Copernicus, Sam, Veronica, Lorenzo, and Kana, the Diggin’ Words dogs, wish the PuzzleNation Blog a happy one-year anniversary!)

Looking back, it’s kind of amazing when you consider how many puzzles have been solved since the launch of PuzzleNation.com.

The top 3 PuzzleNation puzzle games solved the most times since launch are (#3) Invisible Word Search, (#2) Diggin’ Words, and (#1) Classic Word Search (with nearly twice as many solves as Diggin’ Words).

Those same 3 puzzle games were the top 3 puzzles solved in the last 2 months.

The top 3 puzzle games in the first 2 months of PN’s existence were Classic Word Search, Guessworks and Crossword Raiders.

(Classic Word Search… clearly a favorite among puzzlers, since it was the most popular puzzle both then AND now!)

(Also, ignore the little blue triangle at the top of the pyramid. That’s just a festive party hat.)

 Classic Word Search also had the biggest increase in solves since launch. Not double, not triple, but SIX TIMES as many Classic Word Search puzzles were solved in the last two months as there were in the first two months!

Another notable improver was Tanglewords, which doubled from about 1,000 solves in the first two months to about 2,300 in the last 2 months.

But each of those games means puzzle points collected by PuzzleNation users…

Which does make you wonder…

How many points have puzzlers collected since PuzzleNation.com launched?

As it turns out, a staggering amount:

Look at some of those totals! Over 31 million PuzzlePoints for Classic Sudoku! Over 63 million PuzzlePoints for Guessworks! And a mindboggling 770 million PuzzlePoints in Diggin’ Words! (No wonder those dogs always look so thirsty!)

As you can see, even the smallest sliver of the pie represents thousands and thousands of solves by PuzzleNation players!

All this adds up to over half a MILLION puzzles solved since launch!

And the PuzzleNation Blog is proud to be the voice of PuzzleNation and the place where you can find all things puzzly (and PuzzleNation-y) on the web!

Thank you for a terrific year, and here’s to many more good things to come! (Including a big announcement later this week, so stay tuned!)

Thanks for visiting the PuzzleNation blog today! You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, check out our Classic Word Search iBook (three volumes to choose from!), play our games at PuzzleNation.com, or contact us here at the blog!