Solution to Space Invaders

by Oliver Kosut

This puzzle is a madlib with six unknown words. To solve the puzzle, you have to figure out what these unknown words are supposed to be. What allows you to do so is that each sentence in the completed madlib has a particular pattern among the words in it. These patterns, along with the given part of speech information, impose constraints on the unknown words, which can then be deduced once the patterns are discovered. The patterns are:

  1. The first letters of the words spell out the words at the beginning of this sentence ("reproachful extraterrestrials").
  2. The first two letters of each word appear consecutively in the alphabet.
  3. The second half of the words rhyme one to one with the first half.
  4. All words appear in the "to be or not to be" speech.
  5. Each word contains the bigram CT.
  6. The third letters are consecutive in the alphabet.
  7. The number of letters in each word is the beginning of the decimal expansion of pi.
  8. The sixth letter of each word is R.
  9. The letter I appears in the nth position in the nth word in the sentence.
  10. The nth word has n syllables.

Putting this together, you can figure out that:

The first word is a singular noun whose first letter is C and rhymes with "serve". Thus, it is CURVE.

The second word is a verb ending in ing whose first two letters appear consecutively in the alphabet, contains CT, has I as its fourth letter, and has three syllables. Thus, it is DEPICTING.

The third word is a singular noun whose first letter is F, has 7 letters, sixth letter is R, and third letter is I. Thus, it is FAILURE.

The fourth word is a singular noun whose first letter is R and rhymes with "eight". Thus, it is RATE.

The fifth word is a preposition whose third letter is E. Thus, it is OVER.

The sixth word is a singular noun which rhymes with "rhyme" and appears in the "to be or not to be" speech. Thus, it is TIME.

Putting these together gives "curve depicting failure rate over time", which gives the answer BATHTUB.

2006 MIT Mystery Hunt