Perplex City: Season 1, Cards #037 - #040

Continuing my Perplex City solutations. Spoilers!

  • #037 - Muscae Volitantes: Another pictogram (ideograms? neitherograms? netherregionograms?) The text in the image looks like GOOD. Learned something useful with this card (and this is one of the grandest gifts that Perplex City is giving me): "muscae volitantes" is Latin for "those goddamn things that float in front of my eyes". In actuality, the hidden word is "Wood", and, with enough effort, you can see tree trunks and their leaves. The idiom? "Can't see the wood for the trees".
  • #038 - Heist: With the USA Dollar matching image 1, it was a simple matter of Google Imaging the rest: the Euro matches to image 2, the Australian Dollar matching to image 3, the Indonesian Rupiah matching to image 5, and Japanese Yen matches to the final image 4. BooOorriIing.
  • #034 - 4 Colour Theorems: Gah, you know, I remember seeing a simpler version of this question in math or geography class or some such and absolutely hating it. I still hatesss this question. The four color theorem "states that given any plane separated into regions, such as a political map of the counties of a state, the regions may be colored using no more than four colors in such a way that no two adjacent regions receive the same color." The answer is "yellow" but, and I suspect they'll be more like this as the cards go on, I can't rationalize why. Given enough effort with Photoshop or markers, I could Playskool all the colors in myself to "prove" it. But I'd still hatesss it.
  • #040 - Baby on Board: MmMm, more search engine love. Dolphins could be pregant for 10 to 12 months (276 days) and lions for "one hundred to one hundred twenty days" (108 days from the available options). Rhinos have a long pregnancy at 15 to 18 months (450 days from the available options), and rabbits for 28 to 35 days (32 days from the available options). Mice snatch up the remaining 21 days, which leaves our own Fijjit Mejora at 640.

Perplex City: Season 1, Cards #033 - #036

Continuing my Perplex City solutations. Spoilers!

  • #033 - Turnabout: "Can" is the question, not "How". This is an age-old and standard puzzler: given items pointing in this direction, can you move a small subset and have them all point in the opposite direction? Perplex City only cares for answer "yes", but to solve it "for realz", take off the three corners of the triangle (so you have a hexagon remaining) and swap sides - the two top corners become the two bottom corners, and the once bottom single becomes the new top single.
  • #034 - Cocktails: I know crap about mixed drinks, even though they're the only sort of alcohol I like. You should see my soul searching when there's a fruity and colorful concoction advertised at the local chain restaurant, but drink gender gets in the way ("Appletinis are girly, tee-hee!", etc.). About the only thing I recognize in this card is a screwdriver: orange juice and vodka. But, the question is a bit tricky: "what is the end result of all of these cocktails added together" could be answered as "another cocktail". Maybe. The actual answer is tongue-in-cheek: the drink names, in order are: Tequila Sunrise, Income Tax (or Inland Revenue, the tax form on the table), Pina Colada, Screwdriver, and Yellow Bird. The first letter of each drink spells out "TIPSY", which is what you'd be if you drank them all. ROFFLE.
  • #035 - Smile: A relatively simple one given enough Google searching: Portrait of The Laughing Man (A) was painted by Ted Blackall in 1993 and matches to (2), Self Portrait by Jean Etienne Liotard (B) to (4), The Laughing Violinist (C) by Gerrit von Honthorst matches to (6), The Laughing Cavalier (D) matches to (5), The Mona Lisa (E) to (1), and the Advertisement for 'Lou' Bras (F) to the remaining (3), which is the only female of the bunch and most likely to wear a bra.
  • #036 - Catcher: My first initial thought was Catcher in the Rye, simply because of the card title, the proximity of Y, R, and E in the center of the card, and the ability to spell SALINGER with some of the remaining letters. This also hints back to stupid childhood paper games: I can't remember the damn name (apparently, it's a "simple flower" in origami, or a "cootie catcher", but "fortune teller" seems to ring more of a bell), but you'd have someone pick a word or number, manipulate the paper that many times, then lift up a flap to find the message. With this card built, reading the outside, then inside, would spell out "childish dreaming".

Damn dirty apes used tools before you, bub

Primate news! The Guardian reports:

The first prehistoric evidence for a "chimpanzee stone age" has been uncovered by archaeologists working in an African rainforest. Primitive stone hammers and anvils dating from 4,300 years ago were excavated from pits at three sites in the Taï national park in Ivory Coast ... [Researchers suspect] that early tool use was not learned from humans, but may have been passed on to chimps and humans alike from a more primitive ancestor.

Heather Whipp from LiveScience continues:

Chimpanzees learned to make and use stone tools on their own, rather than copying humans, new evidence suggests ... Chimpanzees have been observed using similar tools for the past few centuries, but scientists assumed the intelligent apes were simply copying local people cutting open fruit nearby ... The technology is transmitted socially -- or taught, rather than instinctive from birth -- and can take up to seven years for a young chimp to master, many scientists have found.

It didn't take long for humans to start meeting their demands (though naturally, being inferior, we screwed up and focused on monkeys instead, not apes... remember, monkeys have tails):

The Los Angeles Zoo paid $4,500 to an expert in the ancient Chinese art of feng shui to ensure three endangered golden monkeys on loan from China can have a strong life force ... Feng shui focuses on balance in design to promote health and happiness ... "It's very experimental," [feng shui expert Simona] Mainini said. "We don't have any books on feng shui for monkeys. We just have to assume that Darwin is correct and that there is a connection and what is good for humans is good for monkeys."

BBC News also chimes in.


Colored snow falls in Russia

The Beeb reports:

Oily yellow and orange snowflakes fell over an area of more than 1,500sq km (570sq miles) in the Omsk region [on January 31st], Russian officials said ... "So far we cannot explain the snow, which is oily to the touch and has a pronounced rotten smell," said Omsk environmental prosecutor Anton German, quoted by the Russian news agency Itar-Tass ... Vladimir Gurzhey, an official with the civil defence ministry in Omsk, told the Russia TV channel that the snow had four times the normal levels of iron in it.

Yahoo! follows with:

"Yellow snow that fell on Omsk region ... poses no threat to people's health," Vladimir Gurzhei, a regional emergency official, told Interfax news agency ... Russia's weather watchdog said it may have been caused by a rare dust hurricane in neighboring Kazakhstan. Alexei Yablokov of the Russian Academy of Science told Ekho Mosvky radio station it may have been polluted by a chemical accident in Siberia.


Perplex City: Season 1, Cards #029 - #032

Continuing my Perplex City solutations. Spoilers!

  • #029 - Beware The Puzzle Monsters: MmMm, puzzle mOOonsters. Four of the six Earth cities were easy (Rome, Oslo, London, and Paris) which initially led me to believe that the odd city out would not be in Europe. Being lovingly Amerikkkan, the last two cities gave me some pause: they're Barcelona (whom I can only recall from the Olympic games) and Stockholm (which, sure, I've heard of, but certainly couldn't tell you anything about). Of those six cities, the correct answer is Barcelona, and apparently because it has four vowels in its name whereas all the others have two. Uh huh. Lame.
  • #030 - End of the Line: No wonder I didn't recognize anything on this card: Gyvann exists only within Perplex City and is "a Cubist prophet and founder of The Brother of the Six". The riddle initially had me thinking of a die -- six faces, power of three, twelve edges, but that didn't fit in with the rest of the clues ("aid the builder, but am not bricks" and "my self is one, divine, holy"). After examining the wiki entry above some more, we see "the first to achieve one-ness with the Cube", and there's definite spiritual significance. Its full name is the "Receda Cube" and that is an acceptable answer.
  • #031 - St. Ives: I've heard something very similar to this before, so checked Wikipedia for "St. Ives", which lead me immediately to the nursery rhyme "As I Was Going to St Ives". The rhyme has a number of possible solutions depending on how you actually interpret it: 1 (the narrator met these folks on their way FROM St Ives, not to), 0 or 1 (the narrator is not of "kits, cats, sacks, and wives" unless, of course, the narrator is, in fact, a wife), 2800 or 2801 (assuming count the sacks as animate objects and/or the husband who isn't included in the list) and so on and so forth. Perplex City accepts 1 as the answer. The cat pictured on the card is Melvin, owned by Mind Candy's graphic designer Olli Leivers.
  • #032 - Cow Cow Cow Cow Cow: Erm. OoOok. Sheep in cow's clothing? Sheep in a cowstack? The solution form just asks "What's the odd one out?" and, nearly as easy as #007 Easy As..., "sheep" is the proper answer. This card refers to the Whipsmart Ice website which, in "Pastures Green", has a single sheep leaning on the fence staring at all the cows. Clicking on him causes him to say something really fast ("bloody clever cows").

Mud, skulls, and dead fish a chapel makes

The Guardian reports:

Gothic architecture and contemporary art have become unlikely bedfellows [at the Seo cathedral in Palma, on the island of Majorca] after the artist Miquel Barceló was commissioned to cover one of its chapels with a vast ceramic tableau of cracked mud, dead fish and human crania. The result ... "is a mysterious cave, full of skulls and monsters".

8,000 year old footprints preserved on Welsh beach?

icWales reports:

Steve Maitland Thomas was walking on Kenfig Beach, Porthcawl, with his friend John Blundell, when they found a number of ancient size-eight footprints ... "We found the first on January 19, the day after storms had whipped up the sand revealing the bedrock below. The peat beds were formed from the floor of a vast forest, which once stretched right across the valley which now forms the Bristol Channel, until sea levels rose approximately 8,000 years ago."


An intelligent approach to intelligent design?

The International Heralrd Tribune opines:

In January, Britain's Qualifications and Curriculum Authority issued new guidelines for teaching about science and religion. They include [encouraging] teachers to stage historical debates between science and religion, with students taking the roles of Charles Darwin, Galileo and even Richard Dawkins, the Oxford University scientist and outspoken atheist ... These suggestions, which are designed for 14-year- old students, are intended only for religion classes, and not the science curriculum.


Eat toxic toads and become poisonous reports:

A new study shows that the Asian snake Rhabdophis tigrinus becomes poisonous by sequestering toxins from its prey which consists of venomous toads. The research is published in the current issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ... The study also found that snake mothers with high concentrations of the toxin are able to pass bufadienolide toxin on their offspring helping protect them from predators.


Lost your keys? Or the Spear that pierced Jesus?

The Catalog of Missing Objects:

The Catalog of Missing Objects (COMO) database should be live before the end of February 2007 and will eventually list thousands of objects and pieces of information sought by scholars all over the world. Come back and follow the stories of these searches as discoveries are made and history is uncovered!

Current objects include Benjamin Franklin's 'chess' table, the Ark of the Covenant, William Bartram's Observations Manuscript and Hats Off Starring Laurel and Hardy. It shouldn't be long before the Spear of Longinus or the real life Daily Show God Machine becomes part of its scrutiny:

October 1853, on a hilltop in Lynn, Massachusetts, a group assembled to create the New Messiah. They had not come to pray or to praise God: they were actually going to build Him out of metal and wood under the supervision of spirits. When the body was complete, they believed it would be infused with life to revolutionise the world and raise mankind to an exalted level of spiritual development.


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