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We are the British Library Science Team; we provide access to world-leading scientific information resources, manage UK DataCite and run science events and exhibitions. This blog highlights a variety of the activities we are involved with. Follow us on Twitter: @ScienceBL. Read more

01 February 2016

Alice's Adventures in Numberland - answers

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Here we reveal the answers of our Lewis Carroll-inspired brainteasers. (The questions feature in a previous blog post)

 

MAZE Knight

Can you find a route from the outside of the maze to the centre?

Maze_solution

DOUBLETS KnightKnight

For each pair of words, can you find a series of words which link them, changing just one letter each time? All links must be real words.

Drive PIG into STY – PIG/WIG/WAG/WAY/SAY/STY

Make WHEAT into BREAD – WHEAT/CHEAT/CHEAP/CHEEP/CREEP/CREED/BREED/BREAD

Raise FOUR to FIVE – FOUR/FOUL/FOOL/FOOT/FORT/FORE/FIRE/FIVE

Prove GRASS to be GREEN – GRASS/CRASS/CRESS/TRESS/TREES/FREES/FREED/GREED/GREEN

Change OAT to RYE – OAT/RAT/ROT/ROE/RYE

Cover EYE with LID – EYE/DYE/DIE/DID/LID

Raise ONE to TWO – ONE/OWE/EWE/EYE/DYE/DOE/TOE/TOO/TWO

Crown TIGER with ROSES – TIGER/TILER/TILES/TIDES/RIDES/RISES/ROSES

 

DOUBLE ACROSTIC POEM KnightKnightKnight

Each couplet in this poem clues an 8-letter word. If you find all 8 words, their first letters will spell out a word, and their last letters will spell out another word.

 

They’ll jump off a cliff from a great height, for fun

In a computer game from 1991

LEMMINGS

 

Just the right tipple for a long run

To match your own chemical composition

ISOTONIC

Dl-portrait-npg-lewis-carroll
Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) © National Portrait Gallery, London

 

Kids won’t touch it - they prefer jam

Sounds like it’s near Lewisham

BROCCOLI

 

Practise makes perfect, that’s what they say

Regarding the vehicle that takes you away

REHEARSE

 

Brenda with three Es is feeling pretty

Confused about this northern city

ABERDEEN

 

Caesar’s troubled by its bite

Maybe a candlelit dinner tonight?

ROMANTIC

 

It’s almost like there’ll be bows and knots

At the time of year you give presents lots

YULETIDE

 

First letters spell out: LIBRARY

Last letters spell out: SCIENCE

 

AMBIGRAMS Knight

Can you devise a rotation ambigram for the word FISH? Or a reflection ambigram for BIRD?

  Fish and bird ambigrams answers

Rotation ambigram for the word FISH (from bigforrap.wordpress.com): Reflection ambigram or the word BIRD  (from ambigramme.com):

 

OVERLAPPING SQUARES Knight

Can you draw this shape made from three interlaced squares, using one continuous line, without going over any parts of the line twice, without intersecting the line you’ve already drawn, and without taking your pen off the paper?

Overlapping squares

 

A DINNER PARTY KnightKnightKnight

At a dinner party, the host invites his father’s brother-in-law, his brother’s father-in-law, his father-in-law’s brother, and his brother-in-law’s father. What’s the smallest number of guests there could be?

A dinner party solution

Males are denoted by upper case and females are denoted by lower case letters. The host is C and his guest is E. His father's brother-in-law is B or C. His brother's father-in-law is C. His father-in-law's brother is C. His brother-in-law's father is C. Therefore the smallest number of guests is 1, C.

 

ANAGRAMS KnightKnight

Can you unscramble these sentences to form relevant phrases?

HELP V. KEEN TRIO OF DAFTNESS - FESTIVAL OF THE SPOKEN NERD

“LESS TOKEN GREENERY”, SHE SANG - GEEK SONGSTRESS HELEN ARNEY

SEE ME OUT, TV’S MISTER EXPLODER MAN - EXPERIMENTS MAESTRO STEVE MOULD

BRB, I HIRE TRASHY LIT - THE BRITISH LIBRARY

I WANTED DEAN IN CD’S SURREAL NOVEL - ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND

AM AUS, AND ATTEMPT ARITHMETIC PRANK - STAND-UP MATHEMATICIAN MATT PARKER


With thanks to Katie Steckles (@stecks) for compiling these puzzles. Katie Steckles is a mathematician based in Manchester, who gives talks and workshops on maths. She finished her PhD in 2011, and since then has talked about maths in schools, at science festivals, on BBC radio, at music festivals, as part of theatre shows and on the internet. She enjoys doing and writing puzzles, solving the Rubik's cube and baking things shaped like maths.These puzzles furst featured in the Alices Advemtures in Numberland event featuring geek comedy trio Festval of the Spoken Nerd

Alice's Adventures in Numberland

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Tonight we are celebrating the science and maths of Lewis Carroll in our Alice's Adventures in Numberland event with geek comedy trio Festival of the Spoken Nerd. As well as being a best-selling children’s author, Lewis Carroll was also a mathematics lecturer at Oxford University and an avid puzzler. He loved musing over word, number and logic problems and sharing them with his friends and colleagues. Special guest geek Katie Steckles has compiled this collection of Carroll-inspired brainteasers for your puzzling pleasure. How many can you complete? Answers can be found in this blog post.

 
DIFFICULTY LEVELS Alice-exhibition-web-page

Easy          Knight   

Hard          KnightKnight   

Fiendish    KnightKnightKnight 

 

   


 

MAZE Knight

Can you find a route from the outside of the maze to the centre?

  Maze

A similar, but more complicated maze like this, created by Carroll in his early twenties, appeared in his family’s homemade puzzle magazine, Mischmasch.

 

DOUBLETS KnightKnight

For each pair of words, can you find a series of words which link them, changing just one letter each time? All links must be real words. As an example, you can get from HEAD to TAIL using four links as follows:

    HEAD

    heal

    teal

    tell

    tall

    TAIL

Drive PIG into STY (4 links)

Make WHEAT into BREAD (6 links)

Raise FOUR to FIVE (6 links)

Prove GRASS to be GREEN (7 links)

Change OAT to RYE (3 links)

Cover EYE with LID (3 links)

Raise ONE to TWO (7 links)

Crown TIGER with ROSES (5 links)

Carroll introduced this type of puzzle, now more commonly known as a Word Ladder, in a letter to Vanity Fair in March 1879, and after initial trials, they began using it as their regular puzzle competition – the examples above are taken from there.

 

DOUBLE ACROSTIC POEM KnightKnightKnight

Each couplet in this poem clues an 8-letter word. If you find all 8 words, their first letters will spell out a word, and their last letters will spell out another word.

 

They’ll jump off a cliff from a great height, for fun Alice

In a computer game from 1991

 

Just the right tipple for a long run

To match your own chemical composition

 

Kids won’t touch it – they prefer jam

Sounds like it’s near Lewisham

 

Practise makes perfect, that’s what they say

Regarding the vehicle that takes you away

 

Brenda with three Es is feeling pretty

Confused about this northern city

 

Caesar’s troubled by its bite

Maybe a candlelit dinner tonight?

 

It’s almost like there’ll be bows and knots

At the time of year you give presents lots

 

The double acrostic is often thought of as the forerunner to the modern crossword puzzle, and Carroll made many contributions to the form. In his collection of poems Phantasmagoria (1869), he published an example in which the stanzas were more connected to form a readable poem, rather than disjointed as in the example above. Another, written by Carroll for Miss E M Argles, was printed in the catalogue for the exhibition in London to commemorate the centenary of Carroll’s birth.

 

AMBIGRAMS Knight

An ambigram is a word or phrase which is written in such a way that it reads the same when rotated, or reflected. Examples of different rotation and reflection ambigrams are given here. Can you devise a rotation ambigram for the word FISH? Or a reflection ambigram for BIRD? Or, you can try to devise one for your own name, or a word of your choice – some words are harder than others! You can use whichever type of letters you like, and add interesting serifs and decorations, as long as it still reads as that word. Sometimes ambigrams read as one word in one direction, and a different (sometimes opposite) word in the other.

  Ambigrams

 

OVERLAPPING SQUARES Knight

Can you draw this shape made from three interlaced squares, using one continuous line, without going over any parts of the line twice, without intersecting the line you’ve already drawn, and without taking your pen off the paper?

Threesquares

In Collingwood’s Life and Letters, Isabel Standen recalls being shown this puzzle by Carroll in 1869.

 

A DINNER PARTY KnightKnightKnight

At a dinner party, the host invites his father’s brother-in-law, his brother’s father-in-law, his father-in-law’s brother, and his brother-in-law’s father. What’s the smallest number of guests there could be?

This puzzle originally appeared in Lewis Carroll’s Eligible Apartments.

This puzzle originally appeared in Lewis Carroll’s Eligible Apartments.


With thanks to Katie Steckles (@stecks) for compiling these puzzles. Katie Steckles is a mathematician based in Manchester, who gives talks and workshops on maths. She finished her PhD in 2011, and since then has talked about maths in schools, at science festivals, on BBC radio, at music festivals, as part of theatre shows and on the internet. She enjoys doing and writing puzzles, solving the Rubik’s cube and baking things shaped like maths. (Ambigram credits: dreamworld: www.wowtattoos.com; mirror: www.otherfocus.com; fantasy: www.cogsci.indiana.edu; Coffee: www.elusiveillustration.com)

18 December 2015

12 Days Of Christmas - a festive science quiz

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Fancy a bit of light relief in the run up to Christmas? Team ScienceBL challenge you to our 12 days of Christmas quiz - with a science theme of course.

List your answers in the comment section below or reply on Twitter – no cheating! Answers will be revealed later today.

(N.B. These questions first appeared in last week’s TalkScience Christmas quiz – our yuletide extravaganza of festive science puns and unashamed geekery)

Update: 11am; 18/12/15. Answers added below. Scroll down to find out the correct answers.

12daysofchristmas1-6

A Partridge in a pear-tree - Which ester is used to give pear drops their distinctive pear flavour?

2 Turtle doves - Is the dove heart smaller or larger in proportion to body size than the human heart is?

3 French hens - What name is given to an adolescent female chicken?

  1. Wattle
  2. Pullet
  3. Spur
  4. Capon            

4 Colly birds (or Calling birds) - What type of bird is a colly bird? 

5 Gold rings - What is the atomic number for gold?

  1. 72
  2. 77
  3. 79
  4. 80 

6 Geese-a-laying - What is the main protein constituent of the white of an egg?     

12daysofchristmas7-12

7 Swans-a-swimming - The Athena SWAN Charter to support women in science was established in what year?   

8 Maids-a-milking - What is the name of the family of proteins that make up 80% of all the protein in cow’s milk?

9 Ladies dancing - How many bones are there in the human foot and ankle?       

10 Lords-a-leaping - The International Telecommunication Union announced the decision to ditch “leap seconds” will be delayed until what year?             

11 Pipers piping - Which of these pipes will produce the highest note? (see image above)

12 Drummers drumming - A decibel is one tenth of one bel. Who is this unit named in honour of?  

(All images Public Domain - from Pixabay)

 

ANSWERS

  1. Ethyl acetate/ethanoate gives the pear flavour. Isomyl acetate/ethanoate gives a banana flavour.
  2. Larger. this enables the bird’s cardiovascular system to support the high metabolic needs required for flying
  3. b) Pullet. Capon is a castrated male. Wattles are flaps of skin under the beak. The spur is the horn-like protrusion on the leg
  4. Blackbird. Colly is an Old English term for 'black,' from the word 'colliery,' meaning coal mine 
  5. c) 79
  6. Albumen (or Albumin/Ovalbumin) Egg white is ~90% water, most of the remainder is albumen.
  7. The Athena Swan charter was established in 2005. More details here: http://www.ecu.ac.uk/equality-charters/athena-swan/
  8. Caseins
  9. 26 (or 28 if you include the sesamoid bones at the base of the big toe)
  10. The decision has been delayed until 2023
  11. The answer is A. The shorter the tube, the higher the note.
  12. The bel is named after Alexander Graham Bell – more commonly known for inventing the telephone