Show canned hints
This puzzle isn't what it looks like. Can you think of other interpretations of the instructions that don't involve walking around MIT campus? "Start somewhere at MIT" is accurate, but a lot of the descriptions, e.g. "Course 16 lab" take some liberty. The title is a clue.
The "Train" in the title in particular is a clue to what is going on here - you are running around as a train. Start at Kendall/MIT and take the red line at the beginning of the first instruction. You'll need to look at both the subway map and the real map to solve the clues.
|xkcd, green line extension, lechmere||
The instructions do stop making sense after the first set of four, but they can be made to make sense! The letters extracted from the first four clues spell a clue that helps you figure out how to traverse the rest of the clues. Is there any material from the source referenced by that clue, that is related to the theme of this puzzle?
The first four letters extract XKCD. You'll need to use a subway map drawn by xkcd in order to solve the rest of the puzzle.
Some correspondences that might help: course 16 labs are airports. The most popular room on campus or in an area of campus is the station that has the most daily subway ridership. Campus is North America, and an area of campus is a subway system. "Seems" refers to things true in the real world but not the xkcd map. Be careful when you enter los angeles, the line colors on the xkcd map don't match real life and some of the maps you'll find of the system don't include the right line at all.
All your letters are between A and G, but this puzzle does not involve interpreting them as music. Look at the bottom of the puzzle, where there is one blank of each color. Can you extract one character from each color somehow? Both where you went on your journey and the letters are relevant.
Each color should extract a contiguous series of letters from A up to something. You can use these letters to tell you how to draw a symbol on the map.
Your final extraction will not extract a recognizable 6 letter phrase, but rather a 6 character code for a color of paint. The first 2 symbols are letters and the next four are numbers.
- Start somewhere at MIT. Head east, through a hallway with a nice view. Turn right at the second opportunity, and head six doors down the hallway. You should have just passed the running track out the window to your left. Take the third letter of the first name on the nearest door.
- Continue down the hallway, stopping at a door with a geometric shape on it. Write down the fourth letter of the name on that door.
- Turn around and head in the opposite direction until you reach a part of the hallway where you can't see the sky for a while. Just before there, there is a facility to the right named for a person whose first name is often abbreviated to an English word. Write down the first letter of his last name.
- Continue until you reach a big intersection with another hallway. Turn left and then immediately right. There's a large brutalist building up ahead with a three-word name. Write down the last letter of the first name of its lead architect/designer.
- Pretty soon, you should pass some science demonstrations on your left. Continue in the same direction (even if it seems impossible) until you see a building that opened in 1976 and was renovated into a Course 7 lab in 1992. Write down the first letter of the lab's name.
- Continue in the same direction as you've been going, until you reach a place where many hallways intersect. Turn in the direction whose hallway is the shortest, and go halfway down the hallway. You just passed under a really big pipe. Write down the last letter of the first word of the two-word place the pipe leads to.
- Go back to the intersection from the last paragraph, and this time go in the direction (other than the hallway you were in before) that goes the farthest before it ends. Continue in this new direction until you reach the second intersection. It may not look like it as you approach, but you can turn left here. Turn left and continue walking forward until the color of the walls changes. Veer right, and continue forward until you reach the second intersection with another hallway. There should be a Course 21 building across the street from where you are now. Turn right. Continue until you reach a door with a name whose second, third and fourth letters are the same. Write down that letter immediately following that letter in the alphabet.
- Turn around, and retrace your steps up until you reach an intersection that lets you turn southwest. Head that direction until you find a place where many hallways come together. Do your best to ignore the other hallways and follow this one. Eventually, you'll reach a place where it looks like the walls have been repainted recently. Don't let that trip you up; continue along this hallway (even if it takes a while) until you see an institute parking lot (#7) out the window to your right. The triangular building across the parking lot from here has a three word name; write down the letter that occurs most often in its name overall.
- Now return to the place where lots of hallways come together, and stay in this hallway the whole time until you see a door with a prime room number. At that point, turn around, and veer left at the first opportunity. Continue forward until you see a preponderance of parking lots to your right. At the center of them are two facilities; write down the sixth letter of the namesake of the nearer facility.
- Continue along this hallway for a long time, following when the hallway makes an abrupt right. Continue aways until you pass a Course 16 lab on the right. Shortly afterward, you'll see a facility on the left named for a Nobel-winning physicist. Write down the first letter of the physicist's last name.
- Continue forward until you reach a rotunda. Take the hallway leading south out of there that immediately veers right. Continue until you see the admissions office on your left. On the other side of the hallway, facing the admissions office, is something sharing its name with the last name of a former president. Write down the fourth letter of that last name.
- Go back to the rotunda, this time exiting through a hallway that leads west. Continue, following the hallway as it turns, until you pass the university medical center on your left. Right in front of it is an establishment that sells food. Write down the first letter of the name of that establishment.
- Go back to the rotunda one more time, head downstairs, and go north. You'll pass a door whose name really ought to be more specific than it is. Ten doors later, write down the first letter of the name on that door.
- Turn around, and go until you reach a door with a square number. To the left out the window, across the street, you see a popular place to go for food. Write down the first letter of the middle name of the second of the two names in the name of the architectural firm that designed it.
- Shortly ahead, this hallway joins another. When they diverge, take the right branch, and then when the hallway splits again, take the right branch again. Continue along the current hallway, quite a ways, until you see two very famous historical landmarks out the window on the left. One of them should remind you of telephones and music. Take the last two digits of the year the other one opened, and subtract 1. Continue forward until you find a door with that number on it. Just before this door, out the window to the left, there is a business whose first word begins with D and ends with E. Write down the first letter of its second word.
- Turn around and continue a short distance until you reach a place where this hallway meets another. Turn right and continue down that relatively windy hallway until it reaches an intersection where four wide hallways meet at right angles. Turn left here. Walk very fast until you find yourself in a place whose name begins with state. Continue two doors down, and then look out the window to the right. You can see a green space whose name fits the enumeration 5 5 7 5 6. Write down the first letter of the last word in its name.
- Turn around and retrace your steps, walking very fast where necessary. Just before you reach the big intersection where four wide hallways meet, look at the display on the right put on by Course 16. One of the most impressive parts of the display belonged to a guy whose name fits the enumeration (7 9). Write down the second-to-last letter of his last name.
- Continue into the intersection and turn left twice. Continue until you reach a door with three consonants and four vowels on it. Write down the vowel that occurs most on the door.
- Go on, heading generally southeast then southwest through the hallway, until you reach a place named for an emperor. Turn left, and continue until you can see twenty red-roofed buildings out the window to the right. The street between you and those buildings is named for a former president. Write down the first letter of his first name.
- Turn around, and continue straight ahead until you see another Course 16 lab - the most popular one on campus. Write down the last letter of its first namesake.
- Continue in the same direction. After a while, you'll pass a display put on by Course 21A and another from Course 7 to your left. At the next intersection, there are two hallways that meet this one. After you turn down the correct one, walk two doors down and you should see an exhibition put on by course 21H on the left. Continue forward, stopping one door short of the door leading to the most popular room on campus. Look out the window to the left. There's a building that sounds like it ought to contain a number of trees. Write down the first letter of the number in its name.
- Continue forward to the intersection. Head in a direction such that 2 doors down is a Course 16 lab. This lab is named for someone you encountered earlier in the puzzle. Write down the third letter of that person's last name.
- Continue forward to the fourth intersection. The intersection belongs to Course 10. Turn right at the intersection. Continue walking, travelling however necessary to keep going, heading straight forward and staying in the same hallway whenever you have an opportunity to turn. Do not stop until you reach a door whose number is a multiple of 23 (but not 23 itself). Two doors down, out the window to the left, look at a body of water with three words in its name. Write down the first letter of the third word.
- Turn around and go back until you reach an intersection (it shouldn't be nearly as long a walk as the previous step). Turn sharply right at the intersection, and continue until you reach another door whose number is a multiple of 23. Look around for a street that has two different names. Write down the second-to-last letter of the first word of the longer name.
- Turn around again, and walk down this hallway until you see a large pipe overhead just ahead. Write down the first letter of the first word written on the pipe.
- Turn around once more, and head five or so doors down the hallway. It gets complicated here, but you need to turn left such that the color of the walls don't change and there's a different pipe crossing the hallway overhead. This time, after passing under the pipe, write down the third letter of the first word on it.
- Turn around, one last time, and where this hallway and another one diverge, take the other one instead. You'll see that the big pipe from the last step goes overhead in this hallway too. Soon enough, you'll reach an intersection with the hallway you walked through in your very very long walk from a few steps ago. Turn left here, and continue until you reach the door to the most popular room in this part of campus. Switch to another hallway here, and continue two doors down until you see a well-known Course 21M facility on your right. Write down the first letter of the middle name of its architect.
- Just ahead, you can see a park out the window. It was designed by two landscape architects; write down the first letter of the first name of the one whose middle name is an English word.
- Continue until this hallway turns right. It may look like there's two places for this to happen, but there's really only one. Continue until you reach a door bearing the name of a former president, and turn left. Down the hall, you'll see athletics facilities on your left and right. The one on the right is named for a woman born in 1943. Take the first letter of her first name.
- Turn around, and head back, almost to the end of the hall, to an intersection with one other hallway. Turn right. Where it splits in three, take the left fork. Continue along this hallway, following it as it turns here and there, until you see a large Harvard University facility on your left out the window in the distance. Write down the first letter of either of the two words in its name.
- Continue forward until your next opportunity to turn left. Head back home. Your colorful journey has taken you through all 18 areas of campus! Write down the 3rd letter of the first word on the last door you pass by on your way home.