Sunday, August 22, 2010

NPR Puzzle 8/22/10 -- If It's Terbium, This Must Be Belgium

Here's this week's puzzle:
Take a country whose name contains a symbol for a chemical element, and change it to a different chemical element to get another country. For example, if Aruba were an independent country, you could take the "AR," which is the chemical symbol for argon, and change it to "C," which is the chemical symbol for carbon, to come up with Cuba. There are two answers to this puzzle, and both must be found.
In other words, you need four country names, in two pairs that satisfy these constraints.  If you know the answer, submit it to NPR here.  And if the title of this post confuses you, you are officially WAY younger than me and don't remember the 1965 CBS documentary and 1969 movie, not to mention the 1987 remake, all of which took their titles from a cartoon caption about whirlwind European tour groups.  Read about the original movie here.

Hard or not hard?  We found this puzzle hard(ish) until we solved it.  Then it seemed easier than we'd originally envisioned.  Nothing new there; we're often over-thinking these things.    But what I love is that it's a country-themed puzzle, and you know what that means:  Photos of wooded river valleys!  (As Henry put it...)  All photos will be identified, attributed, and explained on Thursday.

Country #1:

Country #2:

Country #3:

Country #4:

Now for a little extra fun.  I assume all of you have solved this one -- meaning you know all four countries' names.  So, let's see how well you do identifying these photos.  In the comments, tell me the order of photos by their numbers if they were arranged in the alphabetical order of the countries' names.  So, if the countries were, top to bottom, Bulgaria, Belize, Benin and Belgium, you would list the photos as 4, 2, 3 and 1, in that order.  But of course those aren't the right answers, so . . .

Time for ...

P I C K   A   R A N G E

This is where we ask you how many entries you think NPR will get for the challenge above.  Was anyone else surprised that there were fewer than 1,000 entries this week?  We were.  So no prize goes out this week, but if you want to win that awesome prize (because we have two of them left), leave a comment with your guess for the range of entries NPR will receive.  First come first served, so read existing comments before you guess.  Ross and I guess last, just before we publish the Thursday post.  After the Thursday post is up, the entries are closed.

Here are the ranges:

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
1,900 - 2,000

2,000 - 2,100
2,100 - 2,200
2,200 - 2,300
2,300 - 2,400
2,400 - 2,500

2,500 - 3,000

3,000 - 3,500

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 said...

Sorry youngster, I was out of college and in and out of the Army by Tuesday, 1969.
Actually, I am sort of old enough to remember when an alternative spelling of Persia's subsequent name and its neighbor qualified for this puzzle.
Unless you have been really sneaky, I'll put the photos 1, 4, 3, 2 from A to Z.
And 1, 4, 2, 3 N to S.
And then take 1000 to 1100.
Is that everything?

Natasha said...

I select the 900-1000 range.

Marie said...

Okay, I'll bite: 3,2,1,4
And I'll take 1400-1500.

Magdalen said...

Yes, Mendo Jim, that's all. Or, as he says in the movie, "That'll do, pig."

Ben said...

I'll take 800-900 and guess 1,4,3,2 on the photos.

- Ben

Mendo Jim said...

Whoops. The old alternate spelling (think bananas) applies to the neighbor, not Persia.
I wonder if Will really meant "sounds the same" instead of "sort of the same" in the on-air challenge.
"Henry David Throw really scummed to the delights of broke music?" "The Large Hadron Clyder?" Nope.

Anonymous said...

But I found three perectly good pairs, not just two.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mendo Jim said...

Well Anonymous has certainly complicated things!
It is not so much that there are obviously answers that Dr. Shortz didn't count on. That happens fairly frequently though he doesn't always cop to it.
No, this makes Magdalen's photo challenge realy, well, challenging.
I have no reason to believe that they don't have two of the countries. And I certainly don't think they would deny that I and others do too.
But it is very difficult, to say the least, to know which if the six countries various players are trying to find in the four pretty pictures.
Well, we'll let our esteemed hosts figure this out. That's why they're getting the big money.

Tom said...

I should have looked here instead of poring over the periodic tables trying to figure out the answer. I have to confess that I missed one pair of countries that Anonymous posted. And, I had never heard of one of the elements in the solution that I submitted until today.

I'll take the 700 - 800 bracket this week please.

Crossword Man said...

I've removed Anonymous's second comment, as it contained actual puzzle answers.

Anonymous said...

Pix in alphabetic order 4, 2, 1, 3.

I'll pick 1100-1200 this week.


henry.blancowhite said...

If anybody claims a set of three answers, I shall throw a wobbly. And if they can use the three elements that are all named after the same pitchblende mine, I'll...

I'll take 1100 to 1200 or if I missed a post and that's already taken, then the next vacant slot above that, please.

... request that somebody explain Mendo Jim's reference to "bananas" on Thursday.

Magdalen said...

Lively set of comments. As you can tell (or surmise) an anonymous poster came up with a third set of answers (meaning 6 countries all told). Ross has verified that all three sets are valid answers. I asked Ross if he wanted me to edit the post to add the two extra countries (ah, but which two???), and he said no.

I will discuss all of this on Thursday, although I am almost certainly going to disappoint someone (Hello, Henry!) by not knowing what Mendo Jim means by "bananas."

MJ -- D'ya think you could stop by on Friday and enlighten us all? Or will it be a case of "Yes, We Have No Bananas"?

Mendo Jim said...

We have no bananas today!!
The Greek who never answers "No" did have several other veggies that provide the necessary element that bananas are famous for, beans like bunions and Jersey potahtos among them.
You'll need an older book to find this spelling, but it is still the German one.
Now it's Henry's turn: what's a wobbly?
Don't we have time for two more pictures?

Dave said...

I'll go with the 600 to 700 slot, since there aren't too many options open. I'll also rank the photos 2, 1, 4, 3.