Solution for Puzzle 1

Shaping Medicine


Solves: 67
Guesses: 336
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There are three parts to this puzzle: a complicated network of shapes, a set of clues, and a portrait gallery. The most obvious start is by identifying the 17 portraits, which we can do with Google reverse-image search. In order, the portraits are:

  1. Virginia APGAR
  2. Harvey CUSHING
  3. Peter DOHERTY
  4. Paul EHRLICH
  5. Arthur FALLOT
  6. Rosalind FRANKLIN
  7. Ian FRAZER
  8. David HO
  9. Robert KOCH
  10. Henrietta LACKS
  11. Sharon LEWIN
  12. Barry MARSHALL
  13. William OSLER
  14. Louis PASTEUR
  15. Linus PAULING
  16. Helen TAUSSIG
  17. Fiona WOOD

Each of these are individuals from medical history. Moreover, they are currently ordered by alphabetical order of last names, implying that only the last names would be important for the next step.

Specifically, we need to match up these names to the relational clues. As the graph network has 17 spots and there are 16 relational clues, we should try to form a chain of relationships. Some research yields the following relationships. Note that each person (except for Lacks and Franklin) appear exactly once as Person 1 and exactly once as Person 2.

Person 1RelationshipPerson 2
HOwho appeared on the cover of the same magazine (Time) 36 years afterPAULING
LEWINwho completed her postdoctoral training underHO
TAUSSIGwho developed a surgical procedure (Blalock–Thomas–Taussig shunt) to treat the condition named afterFALLOT
OSLERwho founded the medical school (John Hopkins) attended byTAUSSIG
PASTEURwho had a famous rivalry withKOCH
FALLOTwho hails from the same country (France) asPASTEUR
FRAZERwho was awarded the same honour (Australian of the Year) a year afterWOOD
WOODwho is a professor at the same institution (University of Western Australia) asMARSHALL
APGARwho named a neonatal assessment score afterAPGAR
MARSHALLwho won a prize (Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize) named in part afterEHRLICH
KOCHwho won the same award (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine) 91 years beforeDOHERTY
PAULINGwho worked on the structure of the same biomolecule (DNA) asFRANKLIN
CUSHINGwho wrote a biography about the life ofOSLER
LACKSwhose death (cervical cancer) could have been prevented by the vaccine developed byFRAZER
EHRLICHwhose name featured in a film (Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet) released a year after the death ofCUSHING
DOHERTYwhose name is on the workplace ofLEWIN

Some of these links are tricky; for instance, there are multiple Australians, Americans and Germans, so it's not immediately clear that it's the Frenchmen who are related via "hails from the same country". Moreover, Apgar created a scale called the Apgar score.

Apart from APGAR, the other 16 individuals form a relationship chain that, in order, goes: LACKS, FRAZER, WOOD, MARSHALL, EHRLICH, CUSHING, OSLER, TAUSSIG, FALLOT, PASTEUR, KOCH, DOHERTY, LEWIN, HO, PAULING, FRANKLIN. We can now fill in the graph as follows. Moreover, the shapes tells us which letter to take from each graph node; first letter for the circle (one side), third letter for the triangle, fourth for the square, fifth for the pentagon, sixth for the hexagon.

Solution 1

Starting from the START shape and reading clockwise, we get the cluephrase THERANOS CEO NAME IS, hinting at ELIZABETH HOLMES, the final answer to the puzzle. While many people throughout history have shaped medicine for the better, Holmes had done the exact opposite. The circular shape of this puzzle's graph network is inspired by Theranos's company logo.

Authors' note

Credit: Daniel Tao

As part of Day 1's theme of Shaping Power, we wanted to devote this puzzle to medical history. There are so many giants in medical history worth remembering, but there are also some villains too.

We designed this puzzle to be relatively straightforwad mechanism-wise, but a little labour intensive regarding reverse-image-searching and relationship-building. Some relationships were deliberately left ambiguous to force solvers to apply logical skills. Hence, while the process is relatively simple, we recognise that it was time-consuming.

When analysing the guesslog, it seems that many solvers attempted to guess the portraits' names (eg. entering APGAR into the solution checker). While there is little harm in doing so given that there are unlimited guesses (albeit some lost time per guess), it should be noted that in general:

  • Puzzle solutions feel like they're correct. Specifically, you'll know that a solution is actually a solution because of some thematic link, or because there was a very direct clue hinting at that solution.
  • By the point you reach a puzzle solution, most if not all the information provided by the puzzle should have been used at least once. Hence it is unlikely that the portrait names are the solutions, given that the graph network and the relationship clues had not been used.
  • Unless stated otherwise, puzzle solutions are (generally) coherent words or short phrases. Hence it is unlikely that a string of random letters, random words or a super long string are the solutions.

If you are new to puzzles, keeping these rules-of-thumb in mind may help with determining whether you are close to a solution.

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