# Curio #95

December 2016

## Problem: Ping

Figure 1: Lost in this one, it was quite the stumper, had me eager to go outside, asking: “Where’s me jumper?”

## Initial Thoughts

My favorite Curios are the dynamic and colorful ones. Now Curio #95 is neither dynamic nor colorful, however, after struggling with Curio #124 “Blue Genes,” I sought a more accessible problem. Composed only of ellipses, “lost” and spaces in a natural sentence type structure, Curio #95 seemed readily solvable. Two of my initial observations was the natural sentence type structure the problem had and the variations of “lost”. I figured the different combinations of upper and lowercase letters in “lost” corresponded to letters and hoped that observation would be sufficient for starting the problem.

## Following Process

I began by decoding the many “lost”s. After solving a few Curio, it was natural for me to think of the two potential letter states (uppercase/lowercase) as representing 1’s and 0’s. This would make every instance of “lost” a binary string. From here, there would be two possible binary strings for each lost depending on whether uppercase was “0” or “1”. I thought, “If I made this, I would make upper case “1” as 0 < 1 and lowercase < uppercase” (a common form of thinking I use with these problems). This seemed to be right. So I converted each of the binary stings to decimal and found the corresponding letter in the alphabet. This produced the following:

I had stumbled into a funny solo game of Hangman! I thought, “Now is the easy part,” but ironically this part really had me stuck. So I asked my Hangman partner, Kelsey Coia, for help.

With me in Hong Kong and Kelsey in Saint Paul, Minnesota, we were forced to collaborate over GChat and Google Docs. Tragically, at the time we did not realize that the letters we had were those that could be represented by four digit binary strings, or the first 15 letters of the alphabet. This would have suggested the remaining letters were those that came after “O” in the alphabet. Without this we had many extra possibilities for each word.

Grammatically, the message is also challenging. Trying to figure out whether words were verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc was an absolute nightmare. We knew the “J” word was either “JUMPER” or “JUMPED” but the “OF” in front of it was baffling. Additionally, we were sure the “M” word was “MAKES,” but that forced the last word to be grammatically awkward. While collecting possible words, Kelsey realized the “... O O L” could be “WOOL” and also noted “TYPE” could work with “JUMPER”. Upon seeing “WOOL,“ “STITCHES,” “JUMPER,” and “ITCHES,” we found a theme and solved the problem after accepting the strangeness of ”MAKES YOU ITCHES.”