by Seth Schoen
The magic square
To help you find the necessary structure, the magic square is presided over by Dariel Fitzkee, whose 1944 book The Trick Brain gives what would later be termed an occurrence classification of magic tricks into 19 numeric categories:
- Sympathetic Reaction
- Physical Anomaly
- Spectator Failure
- Thought Reading
- Thought Transmission
- Extrasensory Perception
Each of the magic tricks given is best classified into one of these categories, giving the numbers 1-16, which must be arranged into a magic square so that each row, column, and diagonal sums to 34.
The Latin square
The Latin square is presided over by Latin enthusiast Carolus Linnæus, whose 1735 book Systema Naturae introduced the familiar Linnaean taxonomy. The original version included both the living and nonliving parts of the “empire of nature”, comprehending three regna ‘kingdoms’: Regnum Animale, Regnum Vegetabile, and Regnum Lapideum. This is the origin of the question animal, vegetable, or mineral?
Each of the sixteen Latin nouns belongs to one of these three kingdoms, or to none of them (the category called “abstract” in Twenty Questions). Also, each of the nouns is in one of the first four declensions.
The nouns must be arranged into a Latin square so that each row and each column contains each kingdom exactly once and each declension exactly once. (This use of a Latin square was inspired by the puzzle Isn’t It Romantic? from the 2000 MIT Mystery Hunt.)
ExtractionClick here to see the completed squares.
Now, we can take the given letters for the magic square and the first letter of each Latin word to get:
Adding the letters in matching cells (A+A=B, wrapping around the end of the alphabet so that A+Z=A) gives
Reading the contents of the resulting square gives the answer, DUCKBILL PLATYPUS.