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IAP & Mystery Hunt preview by Matt McGann '00

Four Mystery Hunt puzzles for you to try.

Today is the beginning of IAP! IAP, or the Independent Activities Period, is a special four-week mini-term full of interesting, fun and random activities, classes, projects, contests, and more, such as Experimental Chocolate Truffle-Making, Introduction to Special Relativity, Old Food: Ancient and Medieval Cooking, Experiencing Health Policy: A Week in Washington, DC and Middle Eastern Belly Dancing.

One of IAP’s most exciting activities is the annual Mystery Hunt. In short, Mystery Hunt is a weekend long competition at MIT where people team up to solve lots of puzzles (which lead to more puzzles), with the ultimate goal of finding a coin hidden somewhere on campus. The only prize for the winning team is the honor of writing the next year’s Hunt. For some history, check out this classic article from Games Magazine. This year’s Mystery Hunt begins this Friday, January 12, at 12 noon in Lobby 7 (the “main entrance” to MIT). It will last until the coin is found, usually sometime Sunday.

To give you a flavor of the Hunt, I decided I’d post here four previous Mystery Hunt puzzles: a (relatively) easy one, a fun one, a musical one, and a don’t-drink-milk-while-watching-or-you-might-snarf one. Like many Mystery Hunt puzzles, these come with no instructions, no hints, no introduction. Each does, however, come with a title.


182.2 Smoots

On one side, it says "NCIL SACOEBBD FM TH RDC AEUEF DDQNCQL AM GANKDRED HQ RJ UFEG". On the other side, it says "ZMIZ SIYYEZDF LY TV VLG MMWEV TFWZGSZ AY IAVYNTYX JU VT YJYS".


Cookie Monster


An Ax To Grind

TREE

LOGS:

ACK ADE AIN AND AOB
APS ARM COM DEV DLO
DSS EMB ENS EPS ERR
ESU ETE FOR FOR GCA
HEA HIN HOL IAR IBE
ILB IMY ION IPA ITA
ITT LCA LEM LIE LIF
LIK LLE LLS LYN MIA
MPA NAT NAT NOV NRH
NSY NTL NXB OBL ODY
OHE OID ORN OTE PAR
PIR RAN RGE ROI RON
RWA SHA SME SON TAB
TAI THE THY TSE ULL
UMB VED VEI VEN VEN
WHI YGU YOH YTO YWE


Wipe the Floor with Him!!

Play 25MB Flash movie.


Solutions later this week. I can tell you that the answers (in order) will be a nine-letter word, a six-letter word, a two-word phrase, and a four-letter word. Good luck, have fun, don’t cheat, and don’t spoil the fun too much!

47 responses to “IAP & Mystery Hunt preview”

  1. Laura says:

    Oh my God, I remember that one- Wipe The Floor With Him. I spent hours rearranging, indexing, and anagramming the WRONG KEY WORDS. It was so, so sad.

    What team do you play with, Matt?

  2. Adam S. says:

    Wahoo! I love these types of puzzles!! I’ve gotten the first one, but the others seem to be considerably more difficult. I’m not going to spoil the 1st one for you guys, though. I trust most of you will be able to figure it out on your own. A tiny hint – the length of the Harvard bridge is 364 Smoots and an ear.

    2.
    The second one looks interesting.. Lets try to make a list of the names of the cookies, though, it will probably help. I’ve put the names of the cookies and the times they appear in the larger picture. I dunno what else the picture could be used for.

    Chessmen [1]
    Milano [4]
    — [9]

    — [4]
    — [5]

    Fig Newton [5]
    Circus Animal [11]
    Nutter Butter [10]
    Oreo [3]
    — [3]

    I think we need the names of some of the other cookies to do anything more, though. If you know any, copy my list and repost it please!

    3.
    We’re going to need the names of the songs. There’s 14 different songs, 80 3 letter sets. I can’t do anything more on this problem with my current information, though.

    4.
    ..Wow. I have absolutely no clue what to do. If someone gets an idea, I’d be happy to try to follow up on it, though.

    Well, twas fun. Thanks for posting these, Matt! I’ll be checking in later to see if anyone has additional ideas. Can’t wait to see them figured out!

    -Adam S.

  3. Yuri says:

    Yay Mystery Hunt! I can’t wait, it’ll be awesome.
    I remember [spending much time around 2 AM staring at] Wipe the Floor with Him! That puzzle was hilarious.

    Anonymous – if you want to check your answers, all old puzzles and solutions can be found on the Hunt’s main website.

  4. Anonymous says:

    MIT aspirant-
    I am not anyone from MIT but I am an applicant this year so I just thought I might be able to answer some of your questions from my own experience so far. Here goes…..

    1.I don’t think there are any restrictions because I (and quite a few of my other friends)am also doing the same this year.
    2.This year the application deadline was Jan 1 but you have to get all your tests (SATs, TOEFL etc.) done by Dec. You will also need quite some time getting teacher recs, writing essays, etc. You may wish to download this year’s freshman application booklet to get an idea. This can be found under the ‘Apply’ menu on the top of this page.
    3.International students are not elligible for early action and must apply under regular decision.
    For the rest of the questions you may wish to write to [email protected].
    Good luck!

  5. Anonymous says:

    This univ rocks in everything, even in cookie puzzles !! lolz..

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wow! I was soooooooo far off! I thought the answer to the last one was just Elmo. Whew, I feel silly now…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Um, is the last one as easy as it seems or am I completely missing it?

  8. Sabina says:

    Wow, cookies look tasty!!

  9. Sabina says:

    Wow, cookies look tasty!!

  10. MIT aspirant says:

    Hi, I am a student from a tiny little place in India, so I have quite some questions (some may be silly, but I guess it would be better to ask than to remain ignorant). I would be thankful to you if could please answer them.
    1. I will be passing out of my high school (Std. 12) this year (May 2007), and I seek admission to MIT next year (April 2008). Do you have any restrictions regarding students who wish to apply for undergrad courses after a year of passing out of high school?
    2. By when should the application process be started?
    3. What is the difference between Early and Regular application processes?
    4. What is the selection procedure for admission into MIT?
    5. Can one get admission with good SAT scores and not many “out-of-curriculum” achievements? What kind of “out-of-curriculum” achievements do you consider?
    6. By when does the admission list come out?
    7. Also, are students studying in any institute in India eligible for transfer admissions?

  11. MIT aspirant says:

    Hi, I am a student from a tiny little place in India, so I have quite some questions (some may be silly, but I guess it would be better to ask than to remain ignorant). I would be thankful to you if could please answer them.
    1. I will be passing out of my high school (Std. 12) this year (May 2007), and I seek admission to MIT next year (April 2008). Do you have any restrictions regarding students who wish to apply for undergrad courses after a year of passing out of high school?
    2. By when should the application process be started?
    3. What is the difference between Early and Regular application processes?
    4. What is the selection procedure for admission into MIT?
    5. Can one get admission with good SAT scores and not many “out-of-curriculum” achievements? What kind of “out-of-curriculum” achievements do you consider?
    6. By when does the admission list come out?
    7. Also, are students studying in any institute in India eligible for transfer admissions?

  12. Adam S. says:

    Excellent! Thanks Emily!

    The rest of my post would be a spoiler, so if you want to see the rest, go here.

    That was a lot of fun! Maybe I’ll try the 3rd puzzle later, but for now I have some things to do. If anyone can identify those songs, though, that would help a lot!

    -Adam S.

  13. Anonymous says:

    regarding the cookie monster…the white cookies are the only cookies not used in the lower code…

  14. Adam S. says:

    Anonymous-

    I’m not quite sure why they used white circus animals in the picture as well as pink ones, but for the purposes of the problem, they are all considered circus animal cookies, making 11 total. grin Hope you are having fun solving these!

  15. Anno says:

    Hey Matt!
    Do you know how many disabled persons are enrolled at MIT?

  16. Alina says:

    The songs:

    1. I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness
    2. November Rain by Guns n Roses
    3. Paranoid Android by Radiohead
    4. –
    5. Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
    6. Hotel California by The Eagles
    7. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
    8. –
    9. My Sharona by The Knack
    10. (Some Queen song that I can’t remember)
    11. –
    12. –
    13. –
    14. –

    Good luck!

  17. Zak says:

    1. I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness
    2. November Rain by Guns n Roses
    3. Paranoid Android by Radiohead
    4. Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
    5. Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
    6. Hotel California by The Eagles
    7. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
    8. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (the Beatles)
    9. My Sharona by The Knack
    10. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
    11. Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stones)
    12. –
    13. Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden)
    14. –

    Added a few to the previous list – good luck!

  18. anonymous says:

    Hi Matt

    Can you tell us when Mid-Year Reports and any aupplementary information should be submitted by? When are application summaries due to be completed? When do decisions start? Am I worrying too much? Please do answer the questions even though I may be worried too much! Thanks.

  19. Phillippe says:

    That last one is Bulls on Parade – Rage Against the Machine =)

  20. Sarah says:

    Song clip #12 is something by Pink Floyd — I think — the tail end of “Wish You Were Here?”

  21. theresa says:

    hmmm.. I’m assuming the letters in #3 are an anagram (?) maybe the songs in the clip have some sort of theme? I can’t think of what, though…
    but for the cookie one, the cookie that there’s 3 of (the long chocolate covered one w/ nuts) – those are geneva cookies (pepperidge farm)
    again, I’m trying to think of a theme to the cookie one too (besides the fact they’re all cookies) – nothing comes to mind though .. hmm…

  22. theresa says:

    hm, I don’t think this is right, but the other cookie (half covered in chocolate) look like chocolate-dipped brussels? Maybe not, because brussels are sandwhich cookies, and the ones in the picture don’t look like sandwhiches — but they do have the same shape, though.. maybe a possibility?

  23. Emily says:

    Chessmen [1]
    Milano [4]
    Loradunne (I’m not sure of the spelling) [9]

    — [4]
    Keebler Fudge Shoppe Cookies Fudge Stripes [5]

    Fig Newton [5]
    Circus Animal [11]
    Nutter Butter [10]
    Oreo [3]
    — [3]

    Hope that helps!

  24. Phillippe says:

    And that other song – #12 – is comfortably numb by pink floyd, not wish you were here =)

  25. Adam S. says:

    For number 4, it seems that the main subject is the names of the wrestling moves. Also.. I noticed that a lot of the moves have numbers associated with them. The “Loneliest number” move is what tipped me off to that. Here’s a list of what the moves were called, and the numbers associated with them.

    Little Pig (3)
    Pocket Rocket
    Black Socks
    Egg Carton (12)
    Stooge (3, if this is a reference to the 3 stooges)
    Spinal Tap Amp
    Standing Infinity
    Snow White (7, probably)
    Love Potion
    Loneliest Number (1)
    Empty Product
    Touchdown (6, probably)
    Fellowship (9, probably)
    Clean up
    Babe
    Unlucky
    Prisoner

    If anyone can get numbers associated with any of the other moves, or any of actual names of these wrestling moves (thanks, Sarah) it would be very helpful.

  26. Adam S. says:

    Phillippe is right – Its not too difficult to solve once you realize what Phillippe mentioned. I’m not going to ruin it for you, though, I’ll allow you to figure it out yourselves. grin

    Well, thanks guys! I’m pretty amazed at how quickly you all came up with the song list!

    Now for problem 4.. I’m busy tonight, but I’ll eventually get around to making an index of all of the words used, and look for patterns from there.

    Laura says, “Oh my God, I remember that one- Wipe The Floor With Him. I spent hours rearranging, indexing, and anagramming the WRONG KEY WORDS. It was so, so sad.”

    Therefore, indexing the words is probably a good place to start. However, we might end up repeating the same mistake Laura made. I hope not.

  27. Anonymous says:

    The only thing I can think of for the cookies is that they grouped them by producing company at the bottom…this can’t be so we can detect them easier…

  28. Sarah says:

    About the fourth one — does anyone know what those wrestling moves are actually called? Because I’m pretty sure those weren’t it.

    Unless the wrong answers are the clues. Ooo…

    (Thanks, Phillippe!)

  29. Phillippe says:

    SPOILER (kinda):

    Oh lookie, those little “logs” make up the names of the titles of the songs. For example: ULL SON PAR ADE. (missing letter though)

  30. Anonymous says:

    Love potion number 9?

  31. Anonymous says:

    Love potion number 9?

  32. Anonymous says:

    Love potion number 9?

  33. Alyssa says:

    I imagine that the “Love Potion” wrestling move refers to 9. (From the song…)

  34. Anonymous says:

    Apologies for the triple post (above), my computer is acting up.

  35. Adam S. says:

    A’ight, so now we have..

    Little Pig (3)
    Pocket Rocket
    Black Socks
    Egg Carton (12)
    Stooge (3)
    Spinal Tap Amp (11)
    Standing Infinity
    Snow White (7)
    Love Potion (9)
    Loneliest Number (1)
    Empty Product
    Touchdown (6)
    Fellowship (9)
    Clean up (Clean up on aisle # is a well known statement, but I’m not sure which # it would be.)
    Babe
    Unlucky (13)
    Prisoner

    Does anyone happen to know what the actual names for any of the moves are? There doesn’t seem to be a pattern with just the fake names and the numbers associated with them.

  36. Karin says:

    Spinal Tap Amp, maybe is 11?

  37. Jeff says:

    1. I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness
    2. November Rain by Guns n Roses
    3. Paranoid Android by Radiohead
    4. Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
    5. Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
    6. Hotel California by The Eagles
    7. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
    8. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (the Beatles)
    9. My Sharona by The Knack
    10. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
    11. Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stones)
    12. ?Iron Man (Black Sabbath)? Not exactly sure
    13. Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden)
    14. Calm Like a Bomb (Rage Against the Machine)

    Finished it off, (I hope)

  38. Jeff says:

    Dang, late on that comment, sorry guys, didn’t read all the way down, lol

  39. Jeff says:

    Me again, now that I’ve finally read all the way to the bottom,

    Clean Up (5) (“Clean up on aisle 5”)
    Standing Infinity (8)
    Empty Product (0) refers to empty set = null = zero

    I’m not firmiliar with “babe” “prisoner” or “black socks” not sure,

    but black socks could refer to the scandal in baseball, maybe the year, or the number of people suspended

  40. Diego says:

    Pocket rocket = 2 aces (this could be 22 or 2).

    I think I got the answer for #3, anyone who wants to check with me email at headradio gmail dot com

  41. madmatt says:

    You are all getting much closer to answers. I think many of you have solved “182.2 Smoots” so we’ll focus on the other three.

    Adam/Emily, Alina/Zak, and Adam are on the right track by listing the items in these three puzzles. You still need another crucial list of information on “Wipe the Floor with Him!!” to complement the list of fake names and numbers, but for the other two, you have a very good working list.

    For “Cookie Monster” and “An Ax To Grind” you now have enough information to try something we call “backsolving.” Backsolving means that using a subset of answers, you have enough information to move forward and infer the rest. So, given what you know about the names of the cookies and their numbers in the picture, what would you do with this information? And given your list of songs and the “logs” (trigrams), what would you do? You’re on the cusp!

    Keep working, I hope you solve them!

  42. Nemo says:

    After watching the video, the only other list that I can think of could be the group of wrestling action figures and whatnot that make up the audience. Don’t know anything about wrestling though, so can’t ID any…

  43. Emily says:

    On professional wrestling moves:

    http://www.themat.com/ncep.php?page=ta has a list of a bunch of moves with pictures of them in progress.

  44. Karin says:

    I finally have time in my life (aka it’s Friday) so I finally solved the An Ax to Grind puzzle.
    It was really satisfying.
    On to the cookies.

  45. Sarah says:

    Solved “axe to grind”. Hooray smile

    I have a deeply stupid question from the Land of Allergies — do the “chessmen” cookies include all chess pieces, or just the pawn?

  46. Adam S. says:

    Yep, I solved “axe to grind.” Excellent fun!

    Unfortunately, I know almost nothing about wrestling, and it’d be just about impossible for me to identify the moves, so I’m stuck. If anyone happens to be a wrestling fan, some help would be appreciated.. otherwise, I think I’ll be working on some in the archives.

    Its been fun! I really enjoyed how we ended up pooling our knowledge for the problems. There’s no way I could have done #2, and especially #3 without the cookie names and song names.

    Finally.. for those of you interested in Computer Science.. There’s Battlecode! It’s open to the public this year to scrimmage! (participation in the tournament is for Boston area college students only) I’ve been spending a lot of time writing my program for it. It’s awfully fun; I definitely recommend you give it a try if you’re interested in this sort of thing.

    Check out http://battlecode.mit.edu

    Well, twas fun. I’ll be checking back to see if anyone managed to produce a list of the wrestling moves, but since this post has dropped off of the front page, I sort of doubt it.

    -Adam S.

  47. Karin says:

    Unfortunately, my expertise lies in real wrestling (I wrestled for 3 years), not in pro wrestling.