Write the digits from 1 to 9 in a line. If you put a plus sign after the 2, a times sign after the 4, and plus signs after the 6 and 8, the line shows 12 + 34 x 56 + 78 + 9, which equals 2003. That's nine years off from our current year 2012. This example uses four arithmetic symbols. The object is to use just three of the following arithmetic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, in a line from 1 to 9 to get 2012 exactly. The operations should be performed in order from left to right. There are no tricks to this puzzle. Can you do it?Well, we think we can. We just haven't yet. Check back on Thursday...

If you solved it, I know you were smart enough to submit your answer at the correct NPR form.

It's me (Magdalen) again. Ross did a wonderful job filling in for me while I was away in Maine for my MFA program, and then I got even more time off thanks to the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary gap last Sunday. But I'm glad to be back now. Of course I am. ;-)

Photos of numbers are easy; let's see if I can get some arithmetic symbols...and the answer is no (or at least I can't figure out how you find them). So here are some numbers, starting with 12:34:56 on 7/8/09:

I assure you, if any of those numbers are in the final answer, it's purely coincidental!

Time for...

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.

This week, there were 580 entries; you were ALL winners, in one sense of the word. (In another sense, all but one of you were losers. Sorry.) Alas, no one won the Pick a Range for last week. (I think. I reserve the right to edit this if I heard the number wrong.)

This week, there were 580 entries; you were ALL winners, in one sense of the word. (In another sense, all but one of you were losers. Sorry.) Alas, no one won the Pick a Range for last week. (I think. I reserve the right to edit this if I heard the number wrong.)

Here are the ranges:

Fewer than 50 51 - 100 101 - 150 151 - 200 201 - 250 251 - 300 301 - 350 351 - 400 401 - 450 451 - 500 501 - 550 551 - 600 601 - 650 651 - 700 701 - 750 751 - 800 801 - 850 851 - 900 901 - 950 951 - 1,000 | 1,001 - 1,050 1,051 - 1,100 1,101 - 1,150 1,151 - 1,200 1,201 - 1,250 1,251 - 1,300 1,301 - 1,350 1,351 - 1,400 1,401 - 1,450 1,451 - 1,500 1,501 - 1,550 1,551 - 1,600 1,601 - 1,650 1,651 - 1,700 1,701 - 1,750 1,751 - 1,800 1,801 - 1,850 1,851 - 1,900 1,901 - 1,950 1,951 - 2,000 | 2,001 - 2,050 2,051 - 2,100 2,101 - 2,150 2,151 - 2,200 2,201 - 2,250 2,251 - 2,300 2,301 - 2,350 2,351 - 2,400 2,401 - 2,450 2,451 - 2,500 2,501 - 2,750 2,751 - 3,000 3,001 - 3,250 3,251 - 3,500 3,501 - 4,000 4,001 - 4,500 4,501 - 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 uptoand leading upfromthat 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").And yes, this rule is most-likely obsolete but I just like having fine print.