What's New -  August 2015



August 23, 2015: Most of this month has been spent on outdoor activities.  Due to generous rainfall and moderate temperatures this summer, trees and shrubs have tried to take over driveways, trails and yards.  With my trusty chainsaw and a new wood chipper, I have almost broken even in reclaiming the space that nature is trying to confiscate.   Of course, she will always win in the long run. 

Which reminds me, my book-of the-month is  The Canon by Natalie Angier.   It really is "A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science".. She is something of a wordsmith, but the knowledge conveyed here reminds us of what an infinitesimal part of the universe we represent.  For example, our rather small sun is one of billions but still converts 700 million tons of hydrogen to helium every second, has done so for 5 billion years, and will do so for 5 billion more before it runs short of fuel and  starts its expansion to a giant red star!    Highly recommended.

Of course, I have also kept up this month with the daily Mensa Calendar puzzles.  Here's an interesting one from August 18, which can be solved with the aid of our Brute Force algebraic equation solver.

Nine Knights numbered 1 through 9 are seated at the Round Table in such a way that every knight's number is at least 3 higher or lower than its adjacent neighbor. Also, the two knights at the end of the horizontal line sum to an even number. With knights 2, 6, and 8 seated as shown, seat the rest of the knights,

The unique solution can be found by assigning variables to the missing positions and defining equations using Absolute Value (abs) and Modulo (mod) functions.  The puzzle file is now included in the Brute Force downloads as Mensa-08-18-15.prb


August 30, 2015:

Complete this grid with 10 different words using the given letters

 I have been working without success on an upgrade to our Square Word Grids program to improve the search algorithm for 5x5 double word squares.  "Word Squares" are N x N square word grids consisting of the same N words each containing N letters running horizontally and vertically.  "Double Word Squares" are similar except that the words in each direction need not be the same. The program search for the solution to the puzzle  illustrated here  ran for 10 hours without success.  My September project will be to crack this nut.  

 In the interim, I updated the "Crossword Helper" (aka "Word Completion")  to version 2.21 to allow completing partial words using only letters provided. This allowed me to complete this puzzle with a little extra effort.  The Wordstuff wrapper download includes the revised Crossword Helper program.