Thursday, June 24, 2010

NPR Puzzle 6/20/10 - More Fun Than Watching Paint Thinner Evaporate

Here's this week's NPR Puzzle:

Think of a product for sale at a hardware store. It's a generic two-word name. Replace the first letter of the first word with an S, and replace the first two letters of the second word with an S, and the result will be two new words that are opposites. What are they? 
The answer is PAINT THINNER, which becomes SAINT and SINNER.

As I pointed out on Sunday, I tried to go with photographs of the component parts of paint thinner.  According to that helpful page (and I don't much care if it's accurate; it just gave me a list I could work with), I needed pictures of turpentine, toluene, and acetone.  I decided to get a little creative.

These are carbon nanotubules, grown (?) in toluene:


Don't miss the helpful scale at the bottom, which does an absolutely lousy job helping me to comprehend how truly itty-bitty these structures are!  (Then again, I don't suppose they could have stuck a dime in the picture!)

Here's crude oil, used to make toluene (I couldn't find a photo on Flickr of a tolu tree!):


(I thought maybe you'd think they were various beers...)


This next one is specially for Will Shortz, who makes an annual pilgrimage (of about 65 miles) to this spot every year.  Confused?  Try turning the photo 90 degrees clockwise.


Here, I'll help:


That's Mohonk Mountain House, reflected in Mohonk Lake.  Will does a Word Lovers' Weekend there every November.

Anyway, that photo represents the pine trees for the turpentine.  (Anything more obviously a pine tree would have been too easy.)

Based on Ross's reaction, this one should have given the game away.  He took one look at our Botero-esque fellow here:
and immediately knew it was acetone.  But would acetone immediately scream "PAINT THINNER"?  I rather suspected not.


So what's with these people?  Well, my research yielded the happy fact that we naturally produce acetone when we breathe.  And pregnant women do so more than the rest of us.  Not that I know that this woman is pregnant.  But I know she was breathing at the time this photograph was taken.

Admit it -- that was more fun than if I'd posted a couple photos like this:


Actually, that's not the photo of Prissy -- her name -- I'd have used to symbolize "sinner."  Check out the one where she wasn't cooperating:

Now, that's a misbehaving cat!

We had an interesting discussion on Ben's name, Pick a Tranche, for the little competition we run around guessing the number of entries NPR will get each week.  It's seems "tranche" is not a routine word.  Well, living in a house with 50 dictionaries will inure one to such things, so we're happy with the name.  (Don't worry, Ben, we're still thinking of something nice to send you in appreciation of that little PAT you gave us.)

We're also happy that NPR will identify to the nearest 100 the correct answer.  That's allowed us to expand our grid a bit:


Fewer than 100
100 - 200
200 - 300
300 - 400
400 - 500

500 - 600
600 - 700
700 - 800
800 - 900
900 - 1,000

1,000 - 1,100
1,100 - 1,200
1,200 - 1,300
1,300 - 1,400
1,400 - 1,500

1,500 - 1,600
1,600 - 1,700
1,700 - 1,800
1,800 - 1,900 -- Natasha
1,900 - 2,000 -- Dave

2,000 - 2,100
2,100 - 2,200
2,200 - 2,300 -- Ben (he picked 2,000 - 2,500 so I went with the middle tranche)
2,300 - 2,400
2,400 - 2,500 -- Magdalen

2,500 - 3,000 -- Tom

3,000 - 3,500 -- Ross

3,500 - 4,000

4,000 - 4,500

4,500 - 5,000

More than 5,000

More than 5,000 and it sets a new record. -- Mendo Jim

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