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Author Topic: An extremely difficult puzzle
LetterRip
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There is a puzzle that is extremely frustrating that I've been unable to solve (although I thought I had it solved, my solution turned out to have an error).

Here is the text of the puzzle

quote:

The following is the ordered list of states so far, the task is to complete the order with the remaining "48 or 50 states" (whatever that means).

1. Delaware
2. Connecticut
3. Massachusetts
4. Rhode Island
5. New Jersey
6. Illinois
7. Wisconsin
8. Texas
9. Arkansas
10. Louisiana
11. Indiana
12. Ohio
13. Iowa
14. Arizona
15. Alabama
16. Mississippi
17. Florida
18. Minnesota
19. West Virginia
20. Maryland

Other clues:
· It is not a ranking, rather it reflects the order in which something happened
· The answer is on the Internet somewhere
· The answer was "in a publication with many colorful pictures" (pitchers? No word as to whether these clues were spoken or written)


Additionally the riddle originated in January 2001, the author of the puzzle is the lead (head?) of a sport games group in Microsoft. One state has been revealed each month. The author of the puzzle mentioned that some of the ideas in google were 'on the right track', sports, election results, campaign trails, and census types of data were what had been mentioned.

Note that many Microsoft employees, and google searchers have tried unsuccessfully to answer the riddle.

You can win 300$ if you can solve the riddle (a 300$ bounty was offered on google answers) or if you are a microsoft employee you might win 2000$.

Some observations that I posted on google,

quote:

The biggest discontinuties geographically, population size, and a
number of other factors are numbers 17-20, and 14, and 8. (Florida,
Minnesota, West Virginia, Maryland, Arizona, and Texas respectively).
Thus orderings on population, geographical features, paleoclimate,
etc. are out. We should also be able to rule out a number of things
strongly correleted with population size and climate (ie a florida
cross country ski team would be unlikely rated higher than say
montanas...) we should be able to rule out sport rankings for teams
where such rankings are strongly correlated with population density.
We can't rule out individual performers, nor can we rule out small
school/collegiate performance. However, if it is sport performance
for a team, it should be one of the more obscure sports due to the
population size effect, and the exclusion of california and new york,
but inclusion of texas and florida.

We should also note that none of the states are west coast or
northwest, and the predominant clustering of series of numbers (ie
1,2,3,4; 8, 9, 10; 15, 16, 17; 6, 7; 11, 12; 19, 20 ;). With this
significant clustering occuring this implies at least some sort of
'nearest neighbor' effect. Based on this information, I would hereby
guess that 21 will be either VA or PA.

The above information leads me to a strong hunch that it is a national election result that involves the entire US electorate. Likely exit poll results. However, if it is exit poll results they don't appear to be for election year 2000, due to this link
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/sns-2000elections-chronology.story

However, this does not rule out a previous year.

Anyway, just thought I'd share the frustration <grin>

Deeply puzzled,

LetterRip

[This message has been edited by LetterRip (edited September 08, 2002).]


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Everard
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My first thought when I saw the list was state houses, as i know that several states in the top ten have very historical state houses. Didn't pan out.
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Dom Peralt
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Well, it's not the order that the states ratified any particular COnstitutional Amendment, which was my first thought...
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Everard
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Hrm. Arizona throws off any possibility of population density.
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Everard
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Oops. Order something happened.
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Everard
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How about order to elect either a woman or black person to office of some sort?
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LetterRip
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Ev,

Langston, who was the first black eleted to public office was born in Delaware, but elected to a position in Ohio.
link1

The first black senator was from Mississippi
link2

The first black congressman was from New York, link3

Jeanette Rankin was from Montana and the first female congressman.
link4

Rebecca Felton was the first female senator, but wasn't elected link5

Carraway was the first elected woman she was from Arkansas
link6

LetterRip

[This message has been edited by LetterRip (edited September 09, 2002).]


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LetterRip
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some additional thoughts....

The author of the puzzle had to find the list on the internet, however, it is unlikely that he found a site via a random search and then came up with the puzzle, nor is it likely that he came up with a puzzle and then found a site that contained the solution. Thus, it must have been a site that he visited, and then realized its value as a riddle.

This seems likely to constrain the websites to either generally popular websites (such as news and sports), or to niche websites that attract strong followings (such as game fan websites).

An idea I had for finding it brute force, would be to write a program that has submitted the list to google, and then parses the results to find results that have the proper word order. This could greatly narrow down the number of sites that need to be checked. (hundereds instead of two million...).

So current strategy is to search most of the popular news sites.

I thought the 'colorful pictures' might have been a clever reference to MSNBC, given the NBC peacock and MS butterfly, but searching for delaware didn't turn up useful results.

LetterRip


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Luny
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LR do you mind giving us a link to the original site so that maybe we can look around?

I was thinking that it might have something to do with college sports statistics since the groupings of states seem to be in a fasion that suggest conferences or something along those lines. I've tried searching by groups of states and haven't come up with much except for a few labor unions and the little league world series but those don't seem to be consistant.


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LetterRip
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Luny,

here is the original thread

https://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=50956

The originator of the puzzle leads a team that designs sports games for Microsoft, so it is possible, although as I mentioned above I don't think it is likely (due to the jumping around and exclusion of populous states such as California and New York...).

LetterRip


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Luny
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Well, I think that due to the mention of either 48 states or 50, then either it has something to do with the continental US or possibly a statistic that recently changed to include two more states.

I've read the posts on google and I must have missed that it was indentified as an order that something happened in...

Ironically enough I beleive that I have an advantage being that I have lived in 3 of the states that have been listed, all of which have in common and extremely strong college sports following but that may or may not be a clue.


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TomDavidson
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Are you sure it's not something Microsoft-related, instead, like the first states in which Windows 95 was installed?

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Luny
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your clues also suggest that the answer lies somewhere in a magazine that also has online content... I thought for a moment that it had something to do with the SI swimsuit issue, anybody know when that comes out and if it has articles in it like a normal issue?
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WmLambert
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Isn't this the order of the states which ratified the U.S, Constitution? I know Delaware was first, Connecticut second, and Mass. third...

If this is true, I think it is also the same order that the new Quarters were being released in.

[This message has been edited by WmLambert (edited September 11, 2002).]


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LetterRip
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Lambert,

that was the first possibility that I checked out (both the state ratification and the quarter release schedule...).
http://www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/50sq_program/index.cfm?flash=yes&action=schedule

Pennsylvania was second...

LetterRip


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LetterRip
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Tom,

nice thought, but that would probably go from west coast to east coast, not east to west.

However... Hmmm what about the spread of an outlook virus? That would be reported first in eastern most states - downside is, why isn't new york in the first couple...

LetterRip


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Dom Peralt
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William -

Illinois wasn't the 6th to ratify, obviously...


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Denelian
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order militias were called in some war or another?? (the spanish american war springs to mind, but i can't remember when people joined what)
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Falken224
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Well, gonna toss in my two cents worth here.

First thing I thought when I looked at it (and I still think this, BTW) was some sort of tour schedule. Either its the schedule of some sort of political candidate touring the country, kind o' doubtful, given the lack of repetition in the list, or soem sort of band, or a museum-type exhibit, etc. You see what I'm getting at.

The only thing that makes this unlikely is the lack of repetition in the list, as I said before, but that would explain a lot of the clustering. Fly to a new location, schedule the next few so you can travel by ground. Fly to a new one, ground trip to the rest.

And a magazine that's renowned for its many colorful pictures might be National Geographic.

Then again . . . depends on whether this guy who came up with the puzzle would actually know about any of this crap or not. If all he reads is sports magazines, it's prolly sports. But . . .

Just some thoughts.

Managed to find this puzzle posted on another web-site, but that's about all I DID find with Google. Ah, well. Actually, I'm rather impressed with google ignoring punctuation when returning results. Frankly, it shocked the hell out of me.

-Nate


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Luny
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Well I've allready checked campaign trails shortly before the puzzle was originated. No go there... my husband did suggest that maybe it is the order in which maybe congressional votes or something are taken. I'm not real big on the political process so please forgive me but isn't there an order that electoral votes are tallied or maybe an order in which power passes through congress after the president (and others) are gone?
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Denelian
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yes, but Delaware isn't first.
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Luny
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I said I wasn't big on political process! I don't know. Its just its gonna drive me nuts till I find an answer...
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LetterRip
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It wasn't the order colleges/univeristys were established, nor the order of the establishment of public schools, nor the order of seniority in the house of representatives.

Falken,

the lack of repetetion shouldn't rule anything out, repeats can just be skipped.

LetterRip


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Viking
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A quick thought:

The "48 or 50 states" being revealed could be a hint. 48 states would either imply contiguous US states only for some reason, or it could mean that the list is from a time before the 49th and 50th joined the US.

What was the last constitutional amendment before the inclusion of the 49th and 50th states (Hawaii and Alaska I think?)


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LetterRip
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A new clue!

I decided to try and track down the puzzle originator, since the original puzzle poster was no longer responding to email. I sent an email to an individual at MS Sports Games Studio (the ex producer, although I didn't realize that until after the fact), and 12 hours later the below was posted. Although the individual I emailed was no longer the head of the studio, there were two names I'd found after I'd sent it - Pat Cook, and John Rodman. Pat is the lead programmer and John is the Product manager at MS Sports Studio.

Note that it was posted by 'thecooker' - thus almost certainly Pat Cook.

Also note that he states personal information is required to solve the puzzle. However, what personal information would you know about your boss? Well, for Pat, he previously worked at a company called Dynamix and was well known for his work on Sports games there. Whereas John was the producer on other sport games at MS.

What I now think, is it might be the order of competitions in one of the games developed by the above.

https://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=66398

quote:

From: thecooker-ga on 22 Oct 2002 16:29 PDT  
If I have my facts straight, then my guess is that:

State # 21 is Pennsylvania.
State # 22 is Georgia.

But you are all spending a lot of time on something you won't be able
to solve without knowing the puzzle creator. And he probably won't
tell you anyway--this was originally intended as something to raise
money for charity.

My suggestion: go work on a better question. Come back in 2 years
when all 48 (or 50) states are listed and see what the answer is then.

LetterRip


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Luny
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For all we know it could be an order in which the creator has visited each state.

Oh well.


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