The hands of my alarm clock are indistinguishable. How many times throughout the day their positioning is such that one cannot figure out which is the hour hand and which is the minute hand?

Remark: AM-PM is not important.

SOLUTION

Imagine that you have a third hand which moves 12 times as fast as the minute hand. Then, at any time, if the hour hand moves to the location of the minute hand, the minute hand will move to the location of the imaginary hand. Therefore, our task is to find the number of times during the day when the hour hand and the imaginary hand are on top of each other, and the minute hand is not.

Since the imaginary hand moves 144 times faster than the hour hand, the two hands are on top of each other exactly 143 times between 12AM and 12PM. Out of these 143 times, 11 times all three arrows are on top of each other. Therefore, we have 2 × (143 – 11) = 264 times when we cannot figure out the exact time during the entire 24-hour cycle.

A regular hexagon is split into small equilateral triangles and then the triangles are paired arbitrarily into rhombuses. Show that this results into three types of rhombuses based on orientation, with equal number of rhombuses from each type.

SOLUTION

Color the rhombuses based on their type and imagine the diagram represents a structure of small cubes arranged in a larger cube. If you look at the large cube from three different angles, you will see exactly the three types of rhombuses on the diagram.

Alternatively, the problem can be proven more rigorously by considering the three sets of non-intersecting broken lines connecting the pairs of opposite sides of the hexagon, as shown on the image below. The type of each rhombus is determined by the types of the broken lines passing through it. Therefore, there are n² rhombuses of each type, where n is the length of the hexagon’s sides.

Is it true that for every closed curve in the plane, you can use a rope to recreate the layout, so that the rope can be untangled? Said otherwise, you have to determine at each intersection point of the closed curve, which of the two parts goes over and which one goes under, so that there aren’t any knots in the resulting rope.

SOLUTION

Start from any point of the curve and keep moving along it, so that at each non-visited intersection you go over, until you get back to where you started from.

“Puzzle at the End of the Book” is a very challenging puzzle from the 2017 MIT mystery hunt. The answer to this puzzle is a 6-letter word, related to a woman’s beauty. The solution is intricate and requires careful analysis of the book, some geeky references, and possibly a good amount of Google searching. Use the hints below if you need help with solving puzzle.

Pay attention to the words in green. They form a riddle which needs to be answered.

HINT 2

Pay attention to the broken lines along the bubble speeches. Use an appropriate code to decode them.

HINT 3

Pay attention to the ship, the brick wall, the ladder, and the bucket. Use an appropriate code to decode them.

HINT 4

Pay attention to Grover’s arms. Use an appropriate code to decode them.

HINT 5

Pay attention to the fonts used for typing the words in red. Use their first letters to form a word.

HINT 6

Pay attention to the unusual words appearing in the text. Use parts of these words, combined with immediately preceding/succeeding parts of neighboring words, to get the names of six Pokemons. Use their first letters to form a word.

HINT 7

The names of the six muppets have the same lengths as the six words discovered from the previous steps. See which letters overlap when you compare each muppet name with its corresponding word. Arrange these letters to get the final answer.

SOLUTION

The answer to this puzzle is MAKEUP.

In order to get to it, first you must find 6 secret fantasy related words.

1. The green words on the pages of the book form the sentence Wooden ship turned around before understanding sea monster (SIX). “Wooden ship” = ARK, “turned around” -> KRA, “understanding” = KEN, so we get KRAKEN, which is a sea monster with six letters.

2. The broken lines along the speech bubbles can be decoded using Morse code to spell Lilith, Morrigan, Scarlet, or Queen of Pain. These female demons give the secret word SUCCUBUS.

3. The ship, the brick wall, the ladder, and the bucket contain four hidden Brail letters, which spell out the word HUMA.

4. Grover’s arms encode through semaphore the Inuit mythological creature QALUPALIK.

5. The word “Puzzle” is written in five different fonts – Times New Roman, Impact, Twentieth Century, Arial, Nosifer. The first letters of these fonts form the word TITAN.

6. Each page from 2 to 8 contains some unusual words. Part of these words, combined with immediately preceding/succeeding parts of neighboring ones, give the six Pokemons Sandshrew, Pinsir, Ekans, Clefairy, Tentacruel, Eevee, Rapidash. Their first letters form the secret word SPECTER.

The names of the six muppets on the last page are Barkley, Donmusic, Elmo, Kermit, Misspigy, Oscar. They perfectly match in terms of length with the six secret words which we found above. Also, each pair of name with secret word overlap in just one position, the six resulting letters are E, U, M, K, P, A. If we arrange these letters with respect to the length of their corresponding words, we get the final answer MAKEUP.