Sunday, May 1, 2011

NPR Puzzle 5/1/11 - Elementary Schools

Crossword Man here, subbing for Magdalen ... she's frantically busy trying to finish off a quilt in time to present it later today. Let's start with the text of this week's NPR Sunday Puzzle:
Take the name of a well-known U.S. university. One of the letters in it is a chemical symbol. Change this to a two-letter chemical symbol to name another well-known U.S. university. What universities are these?
Magdalen and I have complementary knowledge in this area: she knows lots of universities and I know such elements as had names back when I studied Chemistry at university. Nevertheless, we struggled a bit with this puzzle: at the time of writing, we think we have An Answer, but we're not sure it's The Answer.

We're just a bit jealous that this is reader Dave Taube's second puzzle to be used on air, but Dave tells us he's submitted at least a dozen suggestions. As Linus Pauling once said, the best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.

Staunton, VA
This weekend finds us in the lovely college town of Staunton, Virginia. We're mainly here for a friend's wedding celebrations, but also took the opportunity to meet famed Staunton resident Matt Gaffney. Matt has been one of my crossword heroes since I arrived in the US: his book Gridlock: Crossword Puzzles and the Mad Geniuses Who Create Them was my early introduction to the American crossword scene and we're addicted to his Weekly Crossword Contest. He's lucky enough to have made a full-time career in the crossword biz and it was interesting to hear of all the developments since his book was published.

What can we do for pictures this week? My thoughts about this week's NPR puzzle centered on universities I know from crosswords, and those are often featured because of coincidences of naming. So here's a puzzle for you: which U.S. universities are hinted at by these pictures (their initial letters form an alphabetical sequence):

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.  If you want to win, 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.  The winner gets a puzzle book of our unspecified choosing.

There were just over 1,100 entries again for last week's puzzle. So no prizewinner, but Magdalen gets the Brownie Points for being closest with her guess of 1,150 to 1,200.

Here are the ranges:
Fewer than 50       
50 - 100
100 - 150
150 - 200
200 - 250
250 - 300
300 - 350
350 - 400
400 - 450
450 - 500

500 - 550
550 - 600
600 - 650
650 - 700
700 - 750
750 - 800
800 - 850
850 - 900
900 - 950
950 - 1,000
1,000 - 1,050         
1,050 - 1,100
1,100 - 1,150
1,150 - 1,200
1,200 - 1,250
1,250 - 1,300
1,300 - 1,350
1,350 - 1,400
1,400 - 1,450
1,450 - 1,500

1,500 - 1,550
1,550 - 1,600
1,600 - 1,650
1,650 - 1,700
1,700 - 1,750
1,750 - 1,800
1,800 - 1,850
1,850 - 1,900
1,900 - 1,950
1,950 - 2,000
2,000 - 2,050
2,050 - 2,100
2,100 - 2,150
2,150 - 2,200
2,200 - 2,250
2,250 - 2,300
2,300 - 2,350
2,350 - 2,400
2,400 - 2,450
2,450 - 2,500

2,500 - 2,750
2,750 - 3,000
3,000 - 3,250
3,250 - 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.
Our tie-break rule:   In the event that a single round number is announced, AND two separate people picked the ranges leading up to and leading up from that round number, the prize will be awarded to whichever entrant had not already won a prize, or in the event that both entrants had won a prize already or neither had, then to the earlier of the two entries on the famous judicial principle of "First Come First Serve," (or in technical legal jargon, "You Snooze, You Lose")


Anonymous said...

First, a bit of a rant: I've got several answers, but I assume they're not the intended answers. As an alumnus of one of the UCLA graduate schools, I very quickly came up with three separate answers using abbreviations. I do wish the directions were a bit clearer. Do we restrict ourselves to universities in the sense of schools with graduate programs? Or are colleges, strictly undergraduate, eligible? Can we consider California Institute of Technology (for example) as CalTech? Is the statement that one of the letters is a chemical element strictly accurate, or does it mean that at least one is? I have a solution not using initials, but two of the letters in the shorter name are one-letter element abbreviations.

Now for the non-rant portion: On the other hand, there is another fun relationship in my answer, notably that if you remove a letter from one of the schools' names, you get a word that, phonetically, is nearly synonymous with the other school's name. I assume that anyone who has my answer will understand this statement but that it will not give away anything.

I'll take 600-650.


Mendo Jim said...

And don't forget, Phil, where Dave is located.
Just as I went beddy-bye I came up with Howard U with an H for hydrogen, replaced it with a Br for bromine and got Broward University. I became more and more uneasy with Broward and got up to confirm its non-existence about 2.
Then at 4 or so, just before the dawn, came the dawn.
I say good for Dave! A clear (to me anyway) exposition and a probably unique answer.
I wonder how many other good challenges Will turns down. Following Magdalen's lead, I won't tell mine until it is safe. She spent the day in stitches anyway.
Does it bother anyone else that we just as much as targeted and killed a supposed enemy's grandchildren?

David said...

It turns out I was in Eugene yesterday, failing to complete the marathon. I did not hear the challenge until this morning. I'm pretty sure I know an answer, as both universties are well enough known(ish), for the sake of the puzzle. I don't see the relation Phil mentions, so perhaps the answer is not unique.

In coming up with the answer, I have come up with a related puzzle:
Take a maybe not so well known (but not obscure) university, with a direction abbreviation in its name, remove the direction abbreviation and insert a different direction abbreviation somewhere in that word to get the name of a different university.

I'll take the 1000 to 1050 slot, please.

Dave said...

Phil, you got my intended answer. Sorry for the obfuscation (to use Tom and Ray's word), but I think Will may have slightly changed the wording of my puzzle. In any event, the answers aren't abbreviations (UCLA, USC) and as you've deduced, most people have heard of both of the schools. One is more well known than the other.

Mendo, you got the answer, too. I think there's a Broward county in Georgia, but I don't think there's a Broward University. Best of luck in getting your puzzles read on the air. I'm up for trying to solve them if feel like sending them to me. You can find me on Facebook.

David, do you live in Portland? We spent Sunday and Monday in the Rose City.

If anybody needs a hint, the better known university is very well known for something that's very Christian.

Dave said...

Oh, and I'll go for 800-850, please. My last puzzle garnered only 400 correct entries.

David said...

I live in Seattle. And I did figure out Phil's relationship using my answer, so as far as I can tell, the answer is unique.

"Millicent" said...

Mendo Jim: Frankly, I would rather not be bothered with anyone who does not find any sort of killing bothersome.

That said, as I am not fully convinced that there are not multiple solutions to this week's NPR puzzle (Will's thumb being critical), I will double Dave's guess and politely request the 1650-1700 range.