Solution to ⊥IW.nano

Back to Puzzle


by Curtis Chou, Jakob Weisblat, Jon Schneider, Lewis Chen, Rahul Sridhar, Anderson Wang, Yannick Yao

The ⊥IW.nano round had a peculiar unlocking structure. When solvers first opened the round, it was entitled ⊥IW.giga and the metapuzzle for that round—Rule of Three—was already solved. Solvers needed to determine that one of the puzzles in the round—Twins—was impossible to solve normally and must be backsolved from the meta. When this puzzle was backsolved, the website allowed solvers to “zoom in” to ⊥IW.kilo, a whole new round with Twins as the metapuzzle. Solvers then needed to repeat this process and backsolve a particular puzzle in ⊥IW.kilo to enter ⊥IW.milli. Finally, in ⊥IW.milli, solvers found that one of the individual puzzles was titled ⊥IW.nano. Backsolving ⊥IW.nano completed the entire round and fixed the ⊥IW.nano building.

The answer to this puzzle is a feeder to Level One—the metapuzzle of ⊥IW.milli. We know Level One has the answer LEGACY. As stated above, we must reverse-engineer how Level One worked and use that information to backsolve this puzzle.

The other answers in this round are:


Indexing by the numbers listed on the meta page into the corresponding answers yields ONE.MI?—this can be completed to ONE.MIT, which clues the artwork associated with MIT.nano that contains the names of every known MIT affiliate from 1861 to 2020. This is confirmed by noting that the outer ring of the circle is the same color as the outer ring of the seal on One.MIT 2020.

Super Mystery World(6)BUZZFEEDE
Questionable Answers(12)THE SPICIEST MEMELORDM

At this point, we might realize that each of the answers corresponds to a well-known MIT alum (though the degree of well-known-ness varies greatly).

CLOVER FOOD LABAyr MuirLMuir founded Clover Food Lab.
INTERSTELLAR TRADEPaul KrugmanEKrugman wrote a famous paper about interstellar trade.
BUZZFEEDJonah PerettiGPeretti co-founded Buzzfeed.
THE SPICIEST MEMELORDLillian ChinAChin wrote down “Who is the spiciest memelord?” as her final response in the 2017 Jeopardy! College Championship.
SOUNDLINKAmar BoseCSoundLink is a brand of portable speakers manufactured by the Bose corporation, which was founded by and named after Amar Bose.

The One.MIT project built a website where you can look up the position of MIT affiliates’ names on the seal. Entering the above alumni on the website, we can confirm that they’re all present on One.MIT 2020.

One.MIT added the names of people who joined MIT between January and November 2020 in early 2021, which resulted in everyone's positions changing. As such, this puzzle is sadly no longer solvable.

Now we must determine how to extract the meta answer LEGACY. The seal includes the text MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY and MENS ET MANUS in big letters, and the letters of LEGACY can be found in those phrases. A reasonable assumption is that we should use the arrows on the diagram on the meta page to point to the letters of LEGACY somehow.

All the arrows emanate from the center of the seal, but if we reposition each arrow so that its end starts at the position of a particular alum, it will point to the corresponding letter. For example, the arrow pointing towards the top left can be repositioned to point from Amar Bose’s position on the seal to the letter C.

All arrows except one are used to get from the five solvable puzzles’ answers to the letters L through C, leaving the shortest arrow pointing down and to the right.

Diagram showing each arrow pointing from the MIT alum to its corresponding letter on the One.MIT seal.

Since there is only one remaining arrow and one unique letter Y on the seal, we can determine the position of the missing MIT alum, but we still need to find the name there. The website allows you to zoom in on an arbitrary position and view the names at that location.

If we do so precisely, we’ll find that the name at the desired position is none other than RICHARD P FEYNMAN. This, however, is not the answer to the puzzle.

We’re looking for a word or phrase that is associated with Feynman that begins with the letter T and provides a satisfying response to the grad students who “don’t have enough space for their stuff.”

Scanning through Feynman’s Wikipedia page, we might notice the name of a famous talk he gave in 1959 that is associated with the conceptual beginnings of the field of nanotechnology, which should allay the grad students’ worries: THERE'S PLENTY OF ROOM AT THE BOTTOM.

Authors’ Notes

The concept for this round was adapted from an unselected Hunt theme proposal put forth by Yannick. The proposal featured a hunt structure where the rounds are placed in a chain and the metapuzzle of each previous round is a feeder puzzle for the next round, starting from (say) MIT, then Boston, then New England, etc., all the way to the Milky Way Galaxy. While the proposal did not make it far into the selection process, it found its place in ⊥IW.nano, where the “scaling up” structure idea works very well with the building, which specializes in researching really small things.

In the original round proposal, the round would involve two halves, one where solvers solve from small to large (from ⊥IW.nano to ⊥IW.micro, etc.) and the other where solvers (back)solve from large to small (from ⊥IW.giga to ⊥IW.mega, etc.). We quickly decided that this would require too many feeder puzzles (6 metas, at least 5 feeders per meta), and hence decided to keep only the second half since that is the more unusual part. (Some parallels of the first half have been featured in the Katamari round in 2011 and the Cascade Bay round in 2020.)

The original version of this particular layer was written before One.MIT 2020 was released and was based instead on One.MIT 2018. Although the website for the 2018 version does not allow you to zoom in on an arbitrary point like the 2020 website, the puzzle is still solvable! We were hoping solvers would either figure out how to use the website to “crawl” from one name to another, visit the MIT.nano building in person where there is an enlarged mural of One.MIT 2018, or just try famous MIT alumni until they found one in the right place.