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This American Mystery Hunt

This American Life aired an excellent piece on the MIT Mystery Hunt tonight. They’ll have it up on their archive page for a few weeks, but the free downloadable version will probably only be up for a week. The story about the mystery hunt is act II of a three act show, and starts around minute 32.

Update: I’ve been informed that this is a rebroadcast of a piece they originally aired last year, with a slight update at the end stating who won this year’s hunt (The Evil Midnight Bombers What Bomb at Midnight).

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Posted by on February 5, 2008 in Entertainment

 

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Puzzle Zero

I went to the MIT Mystery Hunt this weekend to puzzle away with my friends on team Grand Unified Theory of Love. This year’s theme was a murder mystery, and the puzzles were exceptionally difficult. The first puzzle we received, named Puzzle Zero, was handed out in Lobby 7 at noon.

Puzzle Zero

Bads solved this one pretty quickly and it felt like a great start to the hunt. Sadly, just as we were about to follow the solution’s instructions, the puzzle was discredited by the hunt organizers as a prank. The solution was:

<puzzle solution spoiler warning>

Filling in the bars for each number yields a message that reads:

CALL 1-622-848-3780 ASAP

Calling this number on the day of the hunt connected to an answering service inviting MIT students to transfer to Cal Tech.

</puzzle solution spoiler warning>

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2008 in Entertainment

 

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Hint

There was a mini puzzle embedded in my post from yesterday.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2007 in Entertainment

 

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T.otally E.xcellent A.ctivity

My weekend was busy with the college puzzle challenge (cpc). Each year I do a couple puzzle hunts and it gets more fun each time. To tell the truth, I’m not that great at solving puzzles. At least it’s a chance to goof off for a day with some friends. Looking at puzzles all day does give me a headache sometimes. Good thing I brought plenty of advil to the challenge!

Every now and then I see a strong analogy between puzzling and research. A puzzle presents a question, to which you want to find an answer. Research works the same way. Maybe you know what the question being asked is, and maybe you don’t. All you can do is propose a hypothesis and do some tests to see if you’re right. In the end, you get some answer, and hopefully it makes sense in the context of the question you asked. Now and then the questions and answers come easily, but usually not.

Could I be over analyzing the analogy here? Hopefully I’m not duping myself into believing an elaborate string of mistruths. A good researcher needs to know the difference between correlation and causation. Right now I’m just going to consider whether my research can inform my puzzle solving, and vice versa.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2007 in Entertainment

 

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