The enigmas of Kominers: a laboratory of chemistry of words must be organized
Last week was the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, a global competition among high school science whizzes, who feature top-notch research in botanical at astrophysics.
I have been involved in the fair for years – first as a student, and now as co-chair of the Mathematics category. Seeing the work of so many brilliant high school researchers – this year virtually – made me quite nostalgic for the days when I was first learning science.
Sadly, the truth is, I forgot most of my high school chemistry for a long time. So I came up with the next best thing: “Word Stoechiometry,” a word game based on a chemistry pattern.
We present seven different ways of word pairs that can “react” together to produce a new word. For example, in
ONE + STAG = ON STAGE,
“ONE” and “STAG” react by inserting “STAG” just before the last letter of “ONE”.
We’ve put that together with six more sample reactions – but for the rest you’ll have to figure out the patterns yourself.
- ONE + STAG = ON STAGE
- NICHE + RACER = MORE BEAUTIFUL
- ELEPHANT + SUPPRESSION = ED
- YEATS + STEWARD = YARD
- NET + TARIFF = EASE
- AIMS + RANT = AIRMAN
- RUN + UP = STOP
Once you understand how word chemistry works, we’ve got seven new equations to solve – each using a different mechanism than the seven reaction mechanisms just described.
If you find the (ahem) solution to each of these equations, it should precipitate a bit more thinking: Combining the resulting words together will give a clue to the formula of a particular brain food, well known in part for its chemical makeup. This delicious snack is this week’s answer.
- BRED + PLANETARY =?
- ESAU + SLIP =?
- TWIST + SPLICE =?
- SOL + DUMB =?
- INTRA + NIGHT =?
- BAD + LANCE =?
- BREAK + SLOW =?
Solving these equations may take a bit of trial and error as some of the reaction mechanisms could be applied to more than one of them. But there is only one way to make sure that each reaction mechanism is used precisely once – at least if we want all of the resulting words to be Scrabble-legal.
And of course if you get stuck you can always put the puzzle down a bit and come back to it. periodically.
If you figure out how to merge these word molecules – or if you’re even making partial progress – please let us know at [email protected] before midnight New York time on Thursday, May 28.
If you get stuck there will be clues announced on Twitter and in Bloomberg Opinion Today. To be counted in the list of solvers, please include your name with your answer. And don’t forget to Register now for our Conundrums mailing list!
Programming note: The next Conundrums will take place on May 30th.
Previously on Conundrums de Kominers…
We sought to make sense of the tablet of an ancient commodity trader, which had been discovered by the archaeologist of Conundrums Paul Kominers.
Solvers have been told that “the currency of the day is gold coins and an egg is worth a gold coin”. The other market rates have been explained by a series of confusing trading options, and even the identities of the other products have been obscured by bizarre idioms.
The front-line idioms weren’t too hard to figure out – especially because we provided the number of letters in each:
- CURLY NEW ENGLAND FERN (10) = FIDDLEHEAD
- BLEEDING ANIMAL (4) = GOAT
- YELLOW FRUIT PIE (5) = LEMON
- BALLPARK VEGETABLE SNACK (6) = PEANUTS
- JOINT BEACH RESEARCH (5) = SHELL
- DINNER SEASONING (4) = SALT
- BOOK MARK KURLANSKY (3) = COD
- SPARKLER ENGAGEMENT RING (7) = DIAMOND
- CHICKEN FRUIT (3) = EGG
- CONSTRUCTION MATERIAL (4) = WOOD
- ROMAN ENVELOPE (4) = TOGA
After working on these, it was clear that “You have forty BLEATING ANIMALS (4)? That plus three CHICKEN FRUIT (3) will buy you five ENGAGEMENT RING (7). »Meant 40 GOAT + 3 EGG was worth the same as 5 DIAMOND.
You can then, for example, combine this expression with the following two:
- Alternatively, you can get an ENGAGEMENT RING (7) in exchange for four ROMAN PARTY WRAPs (4) plus four BLEATING ANIMAL (4). (1 DIAMOND = 4 TOGA + 4 GOAT)
- And if you run out of BLEATING ANIMAL (4), you can get four for a ROMAN PARTY WRAP (4). (4 GOAT = 1 TOGA)
These together gave that 1 DIAMOND = 20 GOAT, which means that 40 GOAT + 3 EGGS = 100 GOAT, therefore 1 EGG = 20 GOAT, which means that each GOAT was worth 1/20 of a gold coin. (And likewise, 1 TOGA was worth 1/5 of a gold coin.)
Further algebra made it possible to calculate the other exchange rates. Next, the solvers had to match the product types with alternate definitions provided in the merchant’s cargo manifest. GOAT, for example, was the “once in a generation champion” (aka the “The best ever“), And the former trader had 40 to exchange, which would have been worth 2 gold.
The full matching of commodities to exchange rates – and the associated conversion to gold coins – is shown in the table below.
But the solvers weren’t quite done there: the answer to the puzzle was “what the trader expected to get from all the items after exchanging them for gold,” and we had hinted that “once you figure out what our the merchant is going to cash out each set of items for, you may have to ‘cash in” somehow to find the final answer. “
The last step of the puzzle was to examine the position in the name of each commodity that was indicated by the number of gold coins in the trader’s converted supply – so in the case of 40 goats, worth 2 gold coins, the associated letter would be an “O.” Putting these letters together in order explained the merchant’s reward – another pun: “A TON OF DOUGH”.
And for all the solvers who weren’t exhausted from all this trading, there was also a bonus puzzle: we asked, “What is our trader going to do after we trade everything?” A surprisingly large number of solvers have said: “buy bitcoin pizza! »But while it sounds appetizing, that was not the envisaged solution.
The “swap all” index suggested looking at exchange rates – and if you’ve mapped those rates alphabetically (with “1/19” as “S”, “1/5” as “E”, etc. .), you can see that our trader’s long term plan was to “SET CATAN”.
Zoz * solved first, followed by Ross Rheingans-Yoo, Dan Rubin and Jennifer Walsh *, Zarin Pathan, Lazar Ilic *, Nathaniel and Barb Ver Steeg, Noam D. Elkies, Elizabeth grove, Sanandan Swaminathan, and Maya Kaczorowski *. The other solvers were Christopher J. Cifrino, Nicol Crous, Filbert Cua, Andre and Katrina Janiszewski, KG and Pax, Vikrant Kulkarni, Suproteem Sarkar, Nur Banu Simsek, Michaela wilson, Dylan zabell, and Rostyslav Zatserkovnyi. (The asterisks indicate solvers that also got the bonus puzzle.) Cifrino noticed that “COD” was not the only one Classic Kurlansky in our product list – he also wrote about “SALT” and oysters, which usually have a “SHELL”. And thanks especially to Eric Mannes for the resolution of tests!
The bonus round
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Mike Nizza to [email protected]