Noesis 58 - February 1991


In the previous issue, I presented two problems--one, to find a 13-letter word for the desire to eat clay, and the other, to find the velocity relative to earth of the eleventh of a string of eleven spaceships, with each spaceship traveling half the speed of light faster than the one preceding it (and with each ship containing a member of The Brady Bunch).

MARSHALL FOX, of Atlanta, Georgia, totally kicked butt by coming up with TWO 13-letter words for the desire to eat clay! He unearthed chthonophagia, which was my answer, as well as allotriophagy, a synonym for pica, which is a less specific term expressing an abnormal craving for unnatural foods. I don't know how Mr. (Dr.?) Fox discovered these words. But here's a set of questions that sent me rooting through over a dozen Elvis biographies:

1. What was Elvis's nickname for himself?
2. What was Elvis's nickname for his penis?
3. Minutes after he was born, Elvis found himself in what home appliance?
4. Elvis liked to watch women wearing only panties wrestle. What color panties did he prefer?
5. What does Cybill Shepherd say she liked most about dating Elvis?
6. Beaver Cleaver's TV mother Barbara Billingsley shares what self-perceived physical flaw with Elvis?

Marshall Fox also figured out how fast the eleventh spacecraft was moving relative to Earth, 88573/88574 the speed of light, and that the formula for the relative speed of the nth spacecraft is (3n-1)/(3n+1) the speed of light. The velocities of each member of The Brady Bunch are as follows:

Mike Brady 			1/2 c

Carol Brady 			4/5 c

Alice the Maid 			13/14 c

Sam the Butcher 		40/41 c

Greg Brady 			121/122 c

Marsha Brady 			364/365 c

Peter Brady 			1093/1094 c

Jan Brady 			3280/3281 c

Bobby Brady 			9841/9842

Little Cindy Brady 		29524/29525 c

Tiger Brady (winner of the Patsy award for excellence in animal acting) 
				88573/88574 c


[I have only an approximate idea of the correct answer. To solve this a few years ago, I called several federal agencies to find the appropriate conversion factors, which I've since forgotten. I don't want to end up under FBI surveillance, so call Los Alamos yourself. (If this was 1944, would a bunch of Noesis members be working on the Manhattan Project?)]

In his letter, Marshall Fox also offers a rigorous rule of thumb for the probability of encountering a novel situation. If there is a finite number of possible situations, and one situation occurs each day, then the probability of encountering a novel situation on day x is [(n-1)/n]x-1, where n is the number of possible situations. Fox estimates that for his job, n=10, which, considering his problem-solving ability, must force him to develop intricate distractions. Fox says his autobiography is in the October, 1990 issue of Telicom, and that he's been involved with high-IQ society stuff for two years.

For my hapless attempts at employment, I still prefer my half-assed formula, if only because I keep getting surprised at work. Fox has his hypothetical employee pulling ping pong balls from a barrel; I prefer to think of my hypothetical self wandering blindfolded in an occupational cornfield.


You know those repeatedly-Xeroxed cartoons and humorous statements that show up pinned to office bulletin boards? Such as "Answers 15 cents. Correct Answers $5, Blank Looks are still free," or the one with Snoopy hung over on Monday, still dazed on Tuesday, dancing on Friday? As with last year's Richard Gere rumor (Still haven't heard it? It can't be printed, but I suppose it's O.K. to send a summary if you write and ask.), no one knows where these things originate. The most recent notorious Xerox is an obscene cartoon in which Bart Simpson says to his mom, "Don't have a cow, she just lost her pacifier." A Denver liquor store had its liquor license revoked for circulating it.

Anyway, my mom came to L.A. last week to attend my fiancé's wedding shower, and she brought a mystery Xerox with her. I like it 'cause it's not so tough my ears bleed from overthinking. Here it is verbatim:

This test does not measure your intelligence, your fluency with words, and certainly not mathematical ability. It will, however, give you some gauge of your mental flexibility and creativity. In the many years since the test has been developed, we have found few people who could solve more than half of the questions on the first try. Many, however reported getting answers long after the test had been set aside-particularly unexpected moments when their minds were relaxed. Some reported getting all of the answers over a period of several days. Take this as a personal challenge and have fun!

Instructions: Each question below contains the initials of words that will make it correct. Find (he missing words; for example--12 M in a Y (12 months in a year).

1. 26 L of the A
2. 7 W of the W
3. 1,001 A N
4. 12 S of the Z
5. 54 C in a D (with the J)
6. 9 P in the S S
7. 88 PK
8. 13 S on (he A F
9. 32 D F at which W F
10. 18 H on a GC
11. 90 D in a RA
12. 200 D for PG in M
13. 8 S on a SS
14. 3 B M(S H T R)
15. 4 Q in a F G
16. 24 H in a D
17. 1 W on a U
18. 5 D in a Z C
19. 57 H V
20. 11 P on a F T
21. l.OOO W that a P is W
22. 29 D in F in a L Y
23. 64 S on a C
24. 6 S on a C
25. 100 B of B on the W
26. 2 H in a W
27. 90 D same as C
28. lOl a S M L
29. 2 M in 0
30. "M C to A and to A a G N"

Here's a couple more of my own:

101 D, by W D
96 T, by ?


In Noesis 56, December, 1990, George Dicks submitted a new short form of the Mega Test, designed to take about an hour, involving problems such as the construction of a crossword puzzle that fills Hilbert Space and running an ant around the vertices of 25 maximally-intersecting cubes. (Member Eric Erlandson, by the way, is working on a means of determining the maximum intersection of n cubes.)

I think that the Dicks Mega Test is an admirable effort, but might involve too much bias toward test takers with classical educations. Therefore, I'm submitting two additional problems, designed to favor people whose preferred reading matter is People magazine and The National Enquirer.

11a. List the members of the Kennedy family and their in-laws in order of the number of sexual partners each has had. (Don't forget Joe Senior.) b. List the Kennedys in order of the combined assets of their sexual partners, c. List those zany Kennedys in order of the total number of words written about each of their sex partners.

12. Imagine an S-chain, the end points of which are two celebrities. In between the celebrities are a minimum number of people arranged so that there is a chain of sexual contact joining the celebs. (Ignore temporal factors-contact doesn't have to flow directly from one end point to the other.) S is the number of links joining the celebrity end points. For Marc Gastineau and Brigitte Nielsen, S is 1. For Sylvester Stallone and Marc Gastincau, I hope S is 2. What is S for Madonna and Tip O'Neill? (For half credit, is S even or odd?)

The Mega Society

Copyright © 1991 by the Mega Society. All rights reserved. Copyright for each individual contribution is retained by the author unless otherwise indicated.