Solution to You Learn Something New Every Day

Back to Puzzle


by Anderson Wang, Brian Chen, and Lewis Chen

The flavortext (and the title, to some extent) strongly suggests at looking at LearnedLeague's One-Day Specials. These are 12-question trivia quizzes typically written by members of the community, for the community. They come in a variety of topics, including MIT, which is where we start first.

Filling in each section's answers and then reading the numbered blanks in order reveals the name of another One-Day. We can continue running around the One-Days until the very end, where we reach the Paradoxes 1DS.

We can read off the boxed blanks to get the instruction DIAGONAL OF FINAL ONE DAY. Step 52 tells us to apply this instruction on the questions of Paradoxes 1DS. Doing so gives us the instruction WRITE A ONE DAY. Teams that did this received the answer QUIZMASTER.


  1. Start at MIT.
  1. Find the word between the vehicles and the photographic equipment. What is the title of the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt puzzle whose answer is this word?
TALL TALESVehicles and photographic equipment refer to "CARS" and "STROBOSCOPE", the answers to Q2 and Q4, respectively. Thus the word in between is Q3's answer, SMOOT. This was the answer to a Smoot (and other wacky units)-themed puzzle, Tall Tales.
  1. Go down to the next person you see. What is the title of their 1957 book?
SYNTACTIC STRUCTURESThe next name after Q4 is Q6's answer NOAM CHOMSKY.
  1. One of the words you see has a two-letter abbreviation that doesn't share any letters with it. What is that word?
SODIUMQ8's answer, Sodium, has an element abbreviation of Na.
  1. One person is BOLDLY described as thrifty and rich. What are their initials?
SSKThis refers to Q9, where S. S. Kresge is referred as a frugal tycoon (in bold capital letters).
  1. Go to the next location.

Study Skills Assessment

This was a highly experimental 1DS where the subject of the one-day was announced about one week in advance, the small town of Owasa, Iowa. The intent was that almost nobody would have known any information about the town in advance, and therefore this was a test to see how effectively players could gather information about the town and retain the information.

As such, all questions here refer to that same town.

  1. Look around you. What county are you in?
  1. What is the motto?
OASIS IN THE CORNBELTThis can be attested by the city's website banner.
  1. What is the full name of the road between the church and the restaurant?
WORTHINGTON STREETThis can be found on Google Maps; Worthington Street is the middle north-south street and divides the singular church (Owasa United Methodist Church) and the singular restaurant (Three Days Grille & Saloon).
  1. Go to the next location.

Change Two Letters

As with the 1DS, the two letters changed are in consecutive positions.

  1. You think of a mesh and a major city. What are their names?
  1. You think of some watery places and some riddles. What are their names?
  1. Go to the next location.


Perhaps of note, this 1DS was written by prominent puzzlehunter Dan Katz.

  1. Split a word in half. What is the result’s cartoon partner?
JERRYQ4's answer TomTom is halved to Tom.
  1. You see three numbers. Adding two of them and subtracting the third gives you a number associated with a video game. What is the given name of this game's director?
KOTAROThe three numbers are 369, 634, and 4 (Q1, Q9, and Q12). Adding the first two and subtracting the third gives us 999. This refers to the video game Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, produced by Kotaro Uchikoshi.
  1. Who is the current world champion in the activity immediately preceding one of the numbers?
MAGNUS CARLSENThis refers to Q8's answer of chess.
  1. Go to the next location.

Country Anagrams

As with the 1DS, you need to write out the name of the country after all parenthesized phrases. The length of the blanks can help determine the length of the country name (as well as the other anagrams).

  1. First, find (someone who twists mechanical puzzles who's pragmatic but comes from Hell).
  1. You also want to (mix chocolate bean) with (rowing implements made from saguaros).
  1. Go to the next location.

Flip a Coin

The questions in this 1DS were written in such a way that there are generally two "obvious" answers, with a small distinction in the question allowing to disambiguate between the options. Here, "going to the other side" refers to the option that wasn't chosen as the answer.

  1. Find a familial term that can be replaced with a different familial term in order to go to the other side. What is the new term?
FATHERThis refers to Q7, as the third component of the Holy Trinity would be the Father (corresponding to Bach, the third B).
  1. You can swap a foreign-language infinitive and a word in a certain set in order to go to the other side. What is the result if you shift that word 10 places backwards in the set?
JULIETQ9 can be rewritten to swap the album titles Vivir (the foreign language infinitive) and Tango to give Julio Iglesias. You can shift Tango backwards 10 elements in the NATO phonetic alphabet to get Juliet.
  1. One country can be replaced with another country to uniquely go to the other side. What is the new country?
CAMEROONQ4's other answer is Nigeria. Burkina Faso does not border Nigeria, so it should be replaced. The only country that doesn't border Niger but does border Nigeria is Cameroon. (Benin and Chad border both Niger and Nigeria.)
  1. There is an author. What author is on the other side?
H.G. WELLSQ5 refers to a book with a title containing "Invisible Man". There are two such famous books; Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, the answer, and The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells.
  1. Go to the next location.

What Comes Fourth?

The questions in this 1DS involved being given the first three terms of a sequence, and asking for the fourth term. There were accompanying images which aren't accessible if you're not logged into LearnedLeague, but all of the questions should be answerable with the solution text alone (which explains what the sequence is).

  1. Two letters come sixth; what do they stand for?
ADULTS ONLYThis refers to Q10, the only question where all terms could be short letters. After T for Teen is M for Mature, and after M is AO for Adults Only.
  1. Who is twelfth (and would be thirteenth if the list were remade today)?
MACMILLANThis refers to Q6. When the 1DS ran in 2016, Theresa May was the UK Prime Minister, though as of 2021 the prime minister is her successor, Boris Johnson, which explains why this particular list is no longer up to date. Going back to the thirteenth most recent PM, we get Harold Macmillan. Since the sequence clues surnames only, we should answer with Macmillan.
  1. What might come fifth, despite neither fitting the pattern nor the personhood of the ones before it?
BIRTHDAY PARTYThis refers to Q11. In verse 3 of the lyrics to It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine), the four L.B.'s in the sequence are enumerated. The list keeps going, although no longer sticking to the L.B. theme (Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!), thus making the non-person answer "Birthday Party".
  1. One list can be exactly tripled in size in a natural way, such that the new list contains the old list, but not consecutively. What's fifth?
THE AFRICAN QUEENThis refers to Q1. Hepburn won four Best Actress Oscars, and was nominated a total of twelve times (tripling the size of the list). The fifth movie she was nominated for was The African Queen.
  1. Go to the next location.

Fully Palindromic

The questions in this 1DS, when concatenated, formed a palindrome. Similarly, concatenating all nine answers here results in a palindrome, which resolves the otherwise entirely unspecified steps 32 and 34.

  1. What can be found on the icon at the beginning of a list?
GQ8 contains a sequence with a favicon of Google. This represents a G.
  1. Guess what word I'm thinking!
ANSWERSDeduced later.
  1. Who was number one with BS? Initials, please.
AMQ1 describes a song that was a 2014 Country Airplay number 1, written by Blake Shelton (BS) and Ashley Monroe (AM).
  1. Guess another word I'm thinking!
ALLITERATIVEDeduced later.
  1. What Tony-winning musical follows the wife of a president?
EVITAThe musical focuses on Eva Perón, wife of Argentine president Juan Perón.
  1. What fairly common chess opening begins with a knight move?
RETIThe most popular knight-first move 1. Nf3, (perhaps 30 or 40 times more popular than the next most popular knight-first move) alone is considered to be the Zukertort opening, which has a few continuations. Most of these eventually transpose to openings that could arise from a normal pawn opening, such as the Queen's Gambit. Two interesting continuations include the King's Indian Attack, and the intended answer, the Réti Opening.
  1. What animals are also a nickname for the people here?
LLAMASNamed so because the first two letters are LL (for LearnedLeague). This has also led to various other puns, such as a separate one-day hosting site known as AlpacaFarm, and referrals sometimes affectionately known as cria.
  1. What button can typically be found in opposition to "FF"?
REWFast forward and rewind, on a tape recorder, for example.
  1. What word means "a problem or difficulty"?
SNAGSome of these clues are a little ambiguous, but you can use the palindromic constraint to narrow down these answers as well.
  1. Go to the next location.

Alliterative Answers

  1. With "The", one of these is also a book in a children's book series. What is the name of the book that preceded this one (also without leading articles, so it belongs here)?
CARNIVOROUS CARNIVALQ5's answer, SLIPPERY SLOPE, is unrelatedly also the title (with "The" prepended) of the tenth book in the A Series of Unfortunate Events series. (Besides the thirteenth book, the other twelve all follow the same alliterative pattern.) The ninth book is The CARNIVOROUS CARNIVAL.
  1. What album did the band you see release?
SAD SAPPY SUCKERThe band is Modest Mouse (Q11's answer). Their only alliterative album is Sad Sappy Sucker, a compilation album.
  1. What Chicago company was acquired by the company you see?
TALBOTT TEASQ10's answer, Jamba Juice, acquired Talbott Teas in 2012.
  1. Go to the next location.

Cryptic Clues

These clues work similarly but not quite like a cryptic clue - they describe some actions that you apply to certain answers, in order to get the stated definition.

  1. Smashing the sixth thing, after 500 times, you only find ends.
DEMISESAfter D (500), anagram of the answer to Q6 EMESIS = DEMISES ("ends")
  1. Inside the eighth thing, you can find a shelter.
NESTHidden word inside the answer to Q8 DEFE(NEST)RATION = NEST ("shelter")
  1. At the gold-tipped edges of the twelfth thing, you just find control.
AUTHORITYAfter AU (gold-tipped), outer letters of the answer to Q12 THOR)STEN INTEGR(ITY = AUTHORITY ("control")
  1. Go to the next location.

One Day

One day in history was selected at random and was announced on release. (so no pre-emptive studying here, unlike in Study Skills Assessment). That day is August 15, 1960, which is the day these questions refer to.

  1. Which team lost to the Phillies by 1?
PIRATESThere are surprisingly comprehensive baseball results dating back even to 1960. It turns out that the Phillies were playing against the Pirates and beat them 4–3 on that day.
  1. In two days, who will suffer a notable knee injury?
RICHARD NIXONRichard Nixon bumped his left knee on a car door on the 17th, which eventually led to hospitalization on the 29th. This has been seen as a factor in his defeat to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 U.S. presidential election.
  1. Go to the next location.


  1. Apply the instruction to the questions to get another instruction.
WRITE A ONE DAYAccording to the instruction, DIAGONAL OF FINAL ONE DAY, take the first letter of the first question, second letter of the second question, and so on. Skip any numbers and any other punctuation when doing this step (this affects Q8 and Q12).
  1. Perform this instruction to get the answer to this puzzle.
QUIZMASTERWrite a one-day and send it to us! After the hunt we'll post some one-days that we enjoyed.

Authors’ Notes

Lewis: The Paradoxes 1DS ran on February 13, 2020 and was written by me. Just like in writing puzzles, LearnedLeague one-days also have a formalized process for testing, scheduled several weeks before the 1DS goes live. Practically, this meant that I had to generally set my question answers mid-January, and finalize my questions early February. Since we were still deciding on the hunt theme and other planning logistics only 2–3 weeks after we won (and in particular nowhere near finalizing any metas or answers), that restricted this puzzle to having a "perform a task" phrase.

The set of question answers was generally fixed, and there was more freedom to produce a message in the question bodies. Combined with the ability to order the questions in pretty much any order (My main soft constraint was that I wanted to open the quiz with a relatively easy question), it was not too hard to eventually make the message, even if the wordings of the questions suffered a little. Diagonalization felt particularly fitting, given the Cantor diagonalization argument being... sort of adjacent to paradoxes, I guess.

There were several ideas for this puzzle. Among these included one which used the names of the various leagues in LearnedLeague, and perhaps even using the colored roundels. Another idea involved drawing lines on the calendar. Ultimately we went with this idea for the relative ease of construction and also a size that isn't too grindy, yet still reasonably substantial. This did mean that we needed to quite heavily clue 1DS for those who didn't already know the subject matter.

For the most part, topics were chosen for their puzzling nature. (Also, quite a few of these topics have sequels, though we stuck to the original 1DS in all cases.) Some other ones that weren't picked but are still notable: Deconstructions, Fungo, Hello, World!, Instructions, Missing Initials, Pen and Paper Math, Venn Diagrams.