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LostInParadise's avatar

Can you find a way of reducing this word puzzle to a manageable size?

Asked by LostInParadise (23624points) November 5th, 2012

I heard this puzzle on the radio this weekend (skip down to where it says next week’s challenge). I am not going to ask you to solve it. If you have an answer, you can submit it to NPR. The question here is how you can turn something that may initially seem to be impossibly difficult into something more reasonable. Without doing any linguistic analysis, what letters can you say with complete certainty must be in the solution word? Extra credit – how many possible combinations of letters are there, ignoring the order of the letters?

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4 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Break it down to shared letters and letters in just one word. That’s r, a , and n. But that makes me asked how are they in common. Granola works if the common includes the two a’s in granola and natural. Or can it only be used once?

LostInParadise's avatar

Your analysis is right. The extra a does not count as a common letter. The word has 5 letters from organic, 5 letters from natural, and subtract the common letters. 7 = 5 + 5 – 3.

CWOTUS's avatar

I was working along the same lines as @Adirondackwannabe. Think of the words as being made by playing cards, like in stud poker.

The letters R, A, N are shared cards (letters), and the two words have their own hole cards as O, G, I, C and T, U, A, L. You need to select two letters from each of the words’ hole cards. Granola seems to be the logical choice.

LostInParadise's avatar

You guys are too quick. For some reason, it took me a while to find the right letters. There are 6 ways of choosing 2 letters out of four, so the total combinations of letters (disregarding order) is 6×6 = 36. I found curtain and cranial, neither of which have anything to do with natural food stores, before I found granola.

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