M Puzzle: Less Engineering, Dammit!

by Gregg Favalora

The schematics describe a system that makes horizontal and vertical line segments coast from left to right, wrapping around a 16-character display. The data come from three components called "shift registers," which control individual lights (LEDs) within each character. A description is included as an imaginary data sheet.

The visual flow for each "pixel" in time:

U1 controls the top 3 LEDs for each character; U2 does LEDs 10 and 4 for each character, and U3 handles LEDs 1 and 2. This will be obvious to an electrical engineer.

It is assumed the solver will make a simulation in C and watch the output in a monospace XTerm window. If patient, the answer will appear at the 96th time step for R1=1k and R2, R3=2k. (To prevent the answer from being obvious, I shifted the final state data for Shift reg2 and Shift reg3 by 16 bits.)

Shift reg1:111100101110001110001110100000101110000000110000
Shift reg2:10000010101110101011111101000111
Shift reg3:11000111101011101010010100110001
FINAL STATE (Timestep 96 for R1=1k, R2=2k, R3=2k)
Shift reg1:111100101110001110001110100000101110000000110000
Shift reg2:10111111010001111000001010111010
Shift reg3:10100101001100011100011110101110

In the final state, the following appears:

In other words--in Harvey Twyman's LCD font--"Physicist Werner." The answer is HEISENBERG.


The clear reference to "knitting" in the last line of the flavortext gives the training puzzle, Knitting. In spite of the suggestions that the untrained/trained answer is AUTHORITARIANISM/"Fearful Symmetry" (or LIBRARIAN/Travelers, say), the trained answer is actually MIND'S EYE.