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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Mystery Hunt 2008 Begins! by Matt McGann '00

The annual campus-wide puzzle solving competition will be going on all weekend.

One of IAP‘s most exciting activities is the annual Mystery Hunt. In short, Mystery Hunt is a weekend long competition at MIT where students and others team up to solve lots of puzzles, with the ultimate goal of finding a coin hidden somewhere on campus. For a more in-depth description, you should check out these longer pieces from the Boston Globe, Games Magazine, Wikipedia, and NPR’s This American Life.

Lots of MIT students, including bloggers, will be participating in the hunt, which begins at noon in Lobby 7. Paul and I will be on Smallish Momenta (an anagram of “Simmons Hall Team;” also, a likely description of our progress this weekend); Snively will be on Death From Above; and I’d assume Bryan will be on Too Much Clue.

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.


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!

60 responses to “Mystery Hunt 2008 Begins!”

  1. Snively says:

    THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME!!!

    I’ll post some puzzles on my blog (The hyperlink of my name below this comment) so people can help out. It’s on! DFA FTW!

  2. Tanmay says:

    I now declare a war against The Cookie Monster !!! ;0

  3. Taylor says:

    Wait! Death From Above as in Dominic Deegan? If so, awesome! If not, pretend I didn’t say anything…

  4. Lauren '12 says:

    Good luck to everyone! But not too much – I’m on Manic Sages! grin

  5. Tanmay says:

    About a year ago, while solving a problem on ‘Measurement’ in physics, I came across this word ‘Smoot’. The unit of one Smoot is based on the length of Oliver Reed Smoot, Jr., (class on 1962) who was carried or dragged along the length of the HARVARD BRIDGE so that the other pledged members of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity could mark off 1-Smoot lengths of the bridge. The length of the Harvard Bridge is 364.4 Smoots plus one ear.

    Now, the first puzzle has something to do with a thing that is 182.2 Smoots long. What it is, I can’t tell.

    Hey, but I was solving the Monster puzzle! Got distracted.

  6. Tanmay says:

    I think I have linked something:

    182.2 Smoots. Harvard Bridge is 364.4 Smoots long.

    364.4 / 2 = 182.2 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Adam M. says:

    I have to recuse myself from looking where I know the answers are. (Haha.)

    Still, Hella Minerals shall win the day!

  8. Anonymous says:

    this is awesome! I love puzzles!

  9. Tanmay says:

    @ Adam M. :

    Of course, you will come to know the answers after quite sometime now and not have- “spoil the fun too much!” , but I must say this smoot puzzle is very much solvable. I have got 2 strong clues and one weak.

    The monster will have to wait.wink

  10. Agneta says:

    So now that we know it’s something about halfway the bridge.

    SO that has to help with deciphering the letters.

    So the letter strings have a similar number of alphabets in their sequence:

    NCIL SACOEBBD FM TH RDC AEUEF DDQNCQL AM GANKDRED
    ZMIZ SIYYEZDF LY TV VLG MMWEV TFWZGSZ AY IAVYNTYX

    HQ RJ UFEG
    JU VT YJYS

    hmm so if we number the letters[A=1, B=2, C=3…..) N will be 14 and Z 26. so the median would be (14+ 26)/2 which is 20. so 20 is T! aah

    Now to do that for everything *go grabs calculator*

    T (3+13/2) = 8 = H etc..

    yay! I’ve got something

    THIS SENTENCE IS TO THE GIVEN LETTERS AS HARRISON IS TO WHOM

    huh? now what?

  11. Piper says:

    I’m so excited for my very first Mystery Hunt! I was there, taking a bunch of annoying pictures. I’m so glad I made it to the opening, because it was right between my tour of the reactor and my lab stuff. Somehow everything worked out. W00t!

  12. Kevin X says:

    Can this be a part of the admissions process? Haha just kidding, but Mystery Hunt sounds very fun. Even if I don’t get into MIT, I might come over and play for the heck of it.

  13. Laura says:

    Okay, I’ve been on Death from Above since before Snively was an apple in Ben’s eye. =P

  14. Libin Daniel says:

    182.2 smoots- Halfway to Hell- —>MIT

    As Agneta said: this sentence is to the letters as Harrison is to whom??
    Letters of Harrison, the mathematician? Harrison Ford? There are ton’s of Harrisons in the world..Gosh!It was easy?

  15. Libin Daniel says:

    The sentence is the result of combining the letters..or is the total of letters…The collection of Harrison’s? The collection of letters of Harrison’s? Can’t find a 9 letter word..Someone..Help!

  16. Libin Daniel says:

    The Bishop replaces the king. 6 letters..Bishop? Because it is ‘odd one out’ as it is not found in both of the pics. Anything right in this?

  17. Ethan says:

    CLEVELAND!

    Benjamin Harrison was between Grover Cleveland’s 2 non-consecutive terms as President.

  18. Libin Daniel says:

    @Ethan
    How does that explain the relation of a sentence to the letters?

  19. Ethan says:

    182.2 smoots is at the middle of the Harvard Bridge, and the sentence was formed by taking the average of the letter on each side. QED

  20. Sumaiya says:

    Jeez, I’m mind-boggled! I would never have thought up the answer to the first one like my fellow commenters have. It seems like great fun nonetheless!

  21. Anion says:

    Yes..it should be CLEVELAND……..

  22. Tanmay says:

    There’s more:

    The first word in both strings is of 4 letters, second is of 8 letters and so on.The sequence is-
    4 8 2 2 3 5 7 2 8 2 2 4

    There is no encryption. Try typing the strings yourself. You’ll find that the writer was writing these randomly!

    I have an answer; but I won’t tell until there is an official version… wink

  23. Tanmay says:

    Oh Agneta had already told that! Sorry, I did not read it. :/

  24. Tanmay says:

    I too think it is Cleveland. Puzzle solved, Matt?

  25. Agneta says:

    yay! CLEVELAND makes SO MUCH SENSE. I’m pretty sure that’s it. I was so lost as to which Harrison it would be aahh!

    well smile smile

    now onto the cookie monster. Well I’m wondering if it has to do anything with the cookie program that Seth Stein (former MIT student) developed…

  26. Tanmay says:

    If you notice, the white cookies(eye) are absent in the second pic.

  27. april says:

    So far, all I can come up with for the cookie monster is that the right eye (the white cookies) are missing from the key. Oculus Dexter is latin for right eye, and both of these words have six letters. Maybe it’s dexter, the word for right. Or maybe I’m way off….? I mean, what the hell do you do with the word dexter?

    It is called cookie monster, so maybe it is a monster missing his right eye?

  28. Anonymous says:

    Manic Sages all the way!

  29. Libin Daniel says:

    Bishop is too easy an answer for a MIT Mystery Hunt..Lol

  30. MMM says:

    the cookie monster seems uneven to me…

  31. Yash.. says:

    okay.. today was a big exam.. so dint have time to look at this below.. and most of the work is done..
    well for the TREE.. we should probably start by the most obvious way.. figuring out wat songs are there on the slip.. i recognized bulls on parade (rage against the Machine) and Led zeppelin’s Stairway to heaven. others i d’no.
    and the only thing tht struck me abt the bwf one is that the moves have different names than their originals.. the rest of the stuff doesn’t make much sense.. anyone else got any leads?

  32. Yash.. says:

    i meant i dint have time to look at this before.. and i cant catch a thing from the cookie puzzle except wats already been found..

  33. Yash.. says:

    and we should probably start figuring out wat songs are on the CLIP.. not slip.. i should start previewing my posts..

  34. Agneta says:

    Well also the cookie with a crown — is not the same in the second pic. It’s like a drop? aah this is obsessive…

  35. I recognize most of the songs… only missing the names of five. In order…

    ? (recognize, but can’t remember), ? (same), ? (never heard), Stairway to Heaven, Seven Nation Army, Hotel California, Smells Like Teen Spirit, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, ? (that is the worst sounding bass I’ve ever heard), Bohemian Rhapsody, Sympathy for the Devil, Comfortably Numb, ? (I know I’ve heard it, sounds like Soundgarden, Audioslave, STP), Bulls on Parade

  36. Agneta says:

    cookies. I’m gonna count them. if that has anything to do with the puzzle

    In the second pic

    the 1st cookie I can’t see any other = 0
    second one i see 3
    third one i see 9

    4th one I see 4
    5th one 5

    6th one 6
    7th one 8
    8th one 10
    9th one 3
    10th cookie 3

    now…?

  37. DHowdy says:

    To add to the list of songs above:
    2. november rain – guns n’ roses (end portion of song), 3. paranoid android – radiohead (I think so at least)

    The first and last ones you didn’t have I know but I can’t place them either! The other one left, no clue. Hope that helps though.

  38. Sondy says:

    Go Death from Above!

  39. alexP says:

    This is my count of the cookies; I think Agenta miscounted.
    1-0
    2-4
    3-9

    4-4
    5-5

    6-5
    7-6
    8-10
    9-3
    10-3
    55 cookies in total

  40. Agneta says:

    HEY Alex.

    No jokes. I can’t believe I counted them wrong. Now I feel like a 1st grader. haha I counted them @ like 12:30 haha…I must have been super tired. but thankssssss now let’s see…

    what if we convert the numbers to letters

    0
    D
    I

    D
    E

    E
    F
    J
    C
    C

    hmmmm..

  41. ana says:

    Congratulations to the Evil Midnight Bombers What Bomb at Midnight, who found the coin on the fourth floor of building 24 at 8:26pm Sunday night.

  42. Agneta says:

    The 1st one is called chessmen apparently

    here’s the pic
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorilyn/169827804/

  43. alexP says:

    I think the chessmen cookies are a big hint.
    But why would the queen be converted into a pawn?
    Also, cookie monster is the name of a Sesame Street character and some kind of 70’s computer virus.
    http://www.answers.com/cookie+monster?cat=technology
    Can’t make any connection though.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Silly me.A pawn can of course be converted into a queen in a real chess game. So it obviously has something to do with converting the string of cookies into something more tangible…and less tasty.

  45. alexP says:

    http://www.amazon.com/Lorna-Doone-Shortbread-Cookies-10-Ounce/dp/B000FA38ZO
    This would be the third type of cookie. It’s called Lorna Doone Shortbread cookie.
    A little recap:
    1 – Chessmen – 0
    2 – ? – 4
    3 – Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookie – 9
    4 – ? – 4
    5 – Keebler’s fudge shoppe – 5
    6 – Newtons(it’s actually Fig Newtons) – 5
    7 – pink hippo cookie??? – 6
    8 – ? – 10
    9 – Oreo – 3
    10- ? – 3

  46. Libin Daniel says:

    @ every admission staff member
    Finally, all the materials have been accepted.
    Thank you so very much.
    I am not gonna be creative this time,lol.
    Thank you^( No. of times I had visited mymit.edu)

  47. 2 is Milano, 8 is Nutter Butter, and 10 is Geneva. Check those to make sure, but I believe that’s right. Milano and Geneva are Pepperidge Farm, as are Chessmen.

  48. Nan says:

    Hey Alex and Agneta
    for the cookie one,
    I think there is actually one of the 1st one in the second picture. Look on the upper right of the hair, you see the cookie with the crown

    ADI DE EFJCC –>

    DIA De EFJCCHey Alex and Agneta
    for the cookie one,
    I think there is actually one of the 1st one in the second picture. Look on the upper right of the hair, you see the cookie with the crown

    ADI DE EFJCC –>

    DIA De EFJCC<– no word
    Day of …
    Random guess

  49. Agneta says:

    ok so i think my theory is going nowhere.

    so let’s see who is a dessert connoisseur.

    let’s try and find the types of cookies? and then see of their names send a message.

    hmm 9 is an oreo!

  50. Anonymous says:

    1 chessmen
    2 milano 4
    3 lorna doone shortbread cookie

    4 half dipped tahiti
    5 fudge shoppe

    6 fig newtons
    7 frosted animal
    8 nutter butters
    9 oreos
    10 geneva

    fudge shoppe, frosten animal = keebler
    oreos, fig newtons, lorna doone, nutter butters = nabisco
    tahiti, milano, geneva, chessmen = pepperidge farm

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2005-04-15-cookies-cover_x.htm

  51. Anonymous says:

    Okay… cookies, company, count.

    Chessmen – Pepperidge Farm – 1
    Milano – Pepperidge Farm – 4
    Lorna Doone – Nabisco – 9
    Tahiti (chocolate dipped) – Pepperidge Farm – 4
    Fudge Stripes – Keebler – 5
    Fig Newtons – Nabisco – 5
    Frosted Animal Cookies – Keebler – 11
    Nutter Butter – Nabisco – 10
    Oreo – Nabisco – 3
    Geneva – Pepperidge Farm – 3

  52. Yash.. says:

    i sort of solved the puzzle.. after seeing the last post..
    it took some tym.. but thers something wrong..
    see.. i selected a letter in the names of the cookies based on the no. of cookies present acc’ to the last post..
    this gives u a complete sentence, but thers some prob in the sentence.. u guys will probably figure it out.. but is tht the way to do it.. bcoz u’re getting an answer, but by assuming tht some of the names are not ryt… nd thnx for the cookie names..

  53. Yash.. says:

    well.. the words u get using the method are –
    canieemten.. but tht should obv be can Be eAten i think.. and the answer will b edible (6 letters).. or ive done it rong.. i dno.. anyone see anyother answer..

  54. Also, 7 is a Frosted Zoo Animal. This is the same cookie as the white form on the left eye.

  55. Lauren S. says:

    Mystery hunt! How exciting!

  56. Anonymous says:

    first song is ‘The Darkness – I believe in a thing called love’

    2nd to last is soundgarden black hole son

    hope that helps