PN Trivia Scavenger Hunt: Answers & Winner!

[Image courtesy of Alaris Health.]

Thank you to everyone who entered our anniversary trivia scavenger hunt! Plenty of solvers, puzzlers, and PuzzleNationers tried their hand at answering all five questions before the deadline at midnight on Wednesday, and many succeeded!

Alas, there can be only one winner. But before we get to that, let’s look at the answers, shall we?


PuzzleNation Anniversary Trivia Scavenger Hunt

1.) One of my favorite recurring features is Puzzles in Pop Culture, where I explore puzzly moments in television, film, and literature. We’ve discussed Sherlock, Hell’s Kitchen, and even Gilmore Girls in installments of Puzzles in Pop Culture.

Question: How do you solve the four gallons of water puzzle?

Answer: There were actually two answers featured in the August 19, 2014 post “Puzzles in Pop Culture: Die Hard with a Vengeance” referenced in this question. Here’s the answer our winner submitted:

1. Fill the 3-gallon jug and pour the water into the 5-gallon jug.
2. Refill the 3-gallon jug and pour the water into the 5-gallon jug until the 5-gallon jug is full, leaving 1 gallon in the 3-gallon jug.
3. Empty the 5-gallon jug and pour the 1 gallon of water from the 3-gallon jug into the 5-gallon jug.
4. Fill the 3-gallon jug again and empty it into the 5-gallon jug, leaving exactly 4 gallons in the 5-gallon jug.


2.) You can’t talk about puzzles without also discussing games, because there’s so much overlap between the two. Game reviews from a puzzle solver’s perspective have become a part of the fabric of PuzzleNation Blog, as has creating your own puzzles and games from scratch.

Question: What’s the name of the DIY game that only requires a bunch of identical blank pieces of paper (like index cards) and something to write with?

Answer: Discussed in our September 15, 2015 post “DIY Pencil and Paper Puzzles,” this game is known as 1000 Blank White Cards.


3.) Naturally, if you’re going to talk puzzles, Sudoku is going to be part of the conversation sooner rather than later. We’ve not only explored the history of Sudoku here, but we’ve been a part of it, debuting brand-new Sudoku variants created by topnotch constructors.

Question: What do you call two overlapping Samurai Sudoku?

Answer: We posted many different Sudoku variants in our December 4, 2014 post “The Wide World of Sudoku,” but the puzzle in question is known as Shogun Sudoku.


4.) A fair amount of puzzle history, both past and present, has been covered here over the last five years. We’ve examined cryptography in the American Revolution, the Civil War, both World Wars, and beyond. We’ve celebrated the one-hundredth anniversary of the crossword. And we’ve even discussed scandals in the puzzle world.

Question: What are the names of the programmer and crossword constructor who first uncovered the curious pattern of puzzle repetition in USA Today and Universal Uclick puzzles that eventually led to the ouster of Timothy Parker?

Answer: As discussed in a series of posts entitled “Puzzle Plagiarism,” the programmer’s name is Saul Pwanson and the constructor’s name is Ben Tausig.


5.) In the Internet age, memes and fads appear and disappear faster than ever. A picture or a joke or a news story can sweep the world in a matter of hours, and then vanish forever. On a few occasions, the Internet has become obsessed with certain optical illusions, and we’ve done our best to analyze them from a puzzler’s perspective.

Question: The creators of The Dress appeared on what talk show to put the mystery to bed once and for all?

Answer: Discussed on March 6, 2015 in a Follow-Up Friday post, the mystery of The Dress was laid to rest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.


[Image courtesy of ClipArt Panda.]

And now, without any further ado, we’d like to congratulate our winner, who shall remain nameless. After all, like a lottery winner, she doesn’t want to be mobbed by those hoping for a piece of the action. =)

She’ll be receiving her choice of either a Penny Dell Crosswords App puzzle set download OR a copy of one of the puzzle games we’ve reviewed this year!

Thank again to everyone for playing and for celebrating five years of PuzzleNation Blog with us. We truly could not have done it without you!


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An Excluded Solver Strikes Back!

sculpture

Many people find crossword puzzles daunting.

For some, it’s the crosswordese, those obscure or curious words that you only encounter in crossword grids. Whether it’s European rivers or needlecases, these entries never make casual conversational appearances.

For others, it’s the pop culture that often feels dusty and out-of-touch. It’s not like many silent movie stars are household names these days.

Thankfully, many current outlets and constructors have moved away from this stodgy approach to grid construction and cluing, working hard to keep cultural references fresh and up-to-date, and striving for fluid grid-filling entries that remain both accessible and interesting.

Unfortunately, the reputation of crosswords as behind-the-times is still prevalent in many circles, including among younger solvers.

But I was amused to find one younger solver who sought to balance the scales a bit by taking matters into her own hands.

Tumblr user Greater-than-the-Sword created and shared her own crossword. (Well, technically a criss-cross to puzzle aficionados like ourselves, but the average person would call this a crossword.)

In her own words:

Tired of your parents always doing better than you at crossword puzzles just because they’re old and get the ancient pop culture references? I made this Millennial’s Crossword Puzzle™. Guaranteed to make your parents feel old and less smug.

Sample clues included “is either white and gold or blue and black” for DRESS (referencing the optical illusion that took over the Internet for a day or two) and “Popular Youtuber” for PEWDIEPIE.

Although the puzzle didn’t make me feel old or less smug, it did make me laugh, since I found several of the entries completely baffling and impenetrable. It also reminded me of how amazingly fast cultural references emerge and vanish in the age of the Internet. I got about half of the reference in the puzzle, many of which applied to memes and pop culture from the last few years.

(Though I must confess that it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize the clue “bendy cabbage patch” meant BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH.)

I was unable to reach Greater-than-the-Sword to ask her what sort of feedback she received on the puzzle — either from millennials or from older solvers who accepted the challenge — but I found it to be a delightful response to lazy crossword construction.

You’re welcome to try your luck against the puzzle here.


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Blind Spot edition!

[No, not THAT Blindspot. Though friend of the blog David Kwong works on that show…]

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

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 optical illusions.

[Image courtesy of Geekologie.]

We’ve discussed optical illusions many times in the past, covering everything from the Necker Cube to the Dress, but today’s illusion is a little bit different.

The 12-dot optical illusion pictured above, also known as a Hermann grid, has been making the rounds lately, and although many puzzlers have accused people of using a video or an animated gif instead of a simple picture, that’s simply not true.

This is a static picture, but our eyes are not designed to capture 12 dots in view at once, so the others vanish when you focus on one dot in particular.

And the folks at ASAP Science have an explanation for this phenomenon! As it turns out, this illusion and others involve both how your brain processes visual information and how the natural structure of your eye creates a blind spot that some optical illusions exploit.

Check out the full explanation here:

So next time someone shares one of these optical illusions, you’ll be ready to explain how they work and show off your puzzly knowledge.


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: This Illusion’s Got Legs 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 viral optical illusions.

Last year, we had The Dress. Then, in March of this year, we had The Jacket. And in May, we asked the question How Many Girls?

Whether we’re spotting iPhones or looking for cats in woodpiles, we can’t seem to get enough of optical illusions.

And there’s a new one making the rounds recently:

[Image courtesy of TheChive.com.]

A woman named Bree tweeted this image of a pair of bare legs that look incredibly shiny. Are they false legs? Are they lotioned or wrapped in Saran wrap? What’s going on here?

I’ll give you a few moments to ponder the image before revealing the secret behind it. Because, as Bree said, “Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.”

Ready? Okay, here we go.

Like most optical illusions, the answer is startlingly simple.

[Image courtesy of TheChive.com.]

The illusion of shininess is actually the result of strategically placed streaks of white paint or toothpaste or something similar.

Pretty impressive once you really look at it, isn’t it?

This image has truly gone viral. As I write this, it’s been retweeted over 16,000 times, and liked over 20,000 times. Bree herself seems baffled by the attention the post has received.

Amazing what you can do with a bit of white paint.


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How Many Girls Do You See?

Optical illusions are a topic we’ve covered numerous times here on the blog, but I’ve noticed a growing trend in the optical-illusion memes that go viral: something to debate.

Think about it. We had The Dress, which the Internet lost its collective mind over. Then we had The Jacket, which upped the ante from two interpretations to four.

Now a friend of the blog has sent me an optical illusion that’s been making the rounds in her group of friends and sparking much debate.

Fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers, I give you…How Many Girls?

What’s going on here? Is this a casting call? A family reunion? Are there mirrors involved, or identical twins? Is this a doppelganger convention? Evidence of human cloning?

This image first appeared a few months ago on the Instagram account of Swiss photographer Tiziana Vergari, and although it hasn’t quite reached the fever pitch of The Dress, it’s by far the most viewed image on her account.

So, how many girls do you see?

Last chance before I give you the definitive answer!

Okay then.

According to Vergari, this photo features two sisters, both of whom are looking into mirrors (although one of those mirrors is out of frame).

Honestly, based on the eye placement and angle of the heads for the two I circled, I would’ve said four.

Just goes to show you, you never can tell.

Except for The Dress. That was obviously blue and black. I mean, come on.


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Here We Go Again edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

Follow-Up Friday is an opportunity to look back on past posts and puzzly topics. Whether we’re updating you with new developments, providing answers to a previously-posted brain teaser or puzzle, or simply revisiting a subject with a fresh perspective, Follow-Up Friday lets us look back and look forward.

In today’s edition, I’d like to revisit optical illusions. One illusion in particular, in fact.

It’s hard to believe that almost exactly a year ago, I dedicated an entire post to explaining the viral Internet phenomenon known as The Dress.

For those who have forgotten (oh, how I envy you), the above picture of a dress was uploaded to Tumblr, and the Internet collectively lost its mind debating whether the dress was white and gold or black and blue.

But why are we revisiting this topic? Because there’s another oversaturated photo of an item of clothing sweeping the Internet these days.

I give you… The Jacket.

And this time around, there are FOUR possible color combinations that people are debating: blue and white, black and brown, green and gold, and green and brown.

So, take a look at that picture, and tell me what you see.

Made your choice? Okay.

According to this article on ABC News, the jacket is blue and white:

High school sophomore and Santa Clarita, California, resident Mariam Kabba said she began a group chat Thursday about the dress after one of her friends was adamant that her blue-and-white jacket was brown and black.

To be fair, I did a quick search of men’s and women’s jackets on the Adidas website, and the only color combinations I saw that fit the style and striping of The Jacket were…you guessed it, blue and white.

But I suspect that won’t dissuade doubters. I can still remember the ardent arguments of the white and gold faction during the heady days of The Dress.

I also wonder if Adidas might capitalize by releasing a four-set of The Jacket jackets, so you can truly have whichever one you see in the picture. That’s what I’d do.


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You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!