Melbourne University Mathematics and Statistics Society

Home Events Puzzle Hunt 2016 Puzzles Answers 5.5 Writing on the Wall
Solution for 5.5 Writing on the Wall (Answer = RIVER SONG)

Find pairs of compound words that begin with the same word, e.g. HASHBROWN and HASHTAG.
Since the right-hand side is provided in alphabetical order, it is natural to assume that the left-hand side is the order we want.

Prefix WordLHS WordRHS WordIndexLetter
HASHBROWNTAG1H
LIFESTYLESAVER4E
LIGHTHOUSEBULB1L
FLAGSHIPSTONE2L
HOUSEHOLDWIFE2O
STEPLADDERMOTHER1S
SHOWGROUNDGIRL4W
SHUTTLECOCKBUS7E
HEADACHELICE2E
TOPKNOTHAT1T
QUICKSANDSILVER3I
TIMECAPSULELINE4E

Using the numbers listed at the bottom, taking the nth letter of each prefix word reveals the message HELLO SWEETIE, and the answer is the person who wrote that on a wall: RIVER SONG.

Author's Notes:
The idea for this puzzle came from a Doctor Who episode (surprise, surprise!). The TARDIS translates the writing on the oldest cliff-face in the universe, but rather than a profound message from an ancient civilisation, it reveals a greeting from the Doctor's wife, River. I thought that storyline was an excellent metaphor for puzzle hunt: we spend a week going to a lot of effort to decode frustrating or meaningless phrases!

The mechanism of this puzzle came from Ty telling me to put hashtags to better use, and write a puzzle with them. It made me think about the construction of the word hashtag, and about how some prefixes are words in their own right. Also how kids these days don't know that the hash symbol had a use pre-twitter. I didn't manage to put all my hashtag musings into a puzzle, but it did inspire the first pair of words.