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The mood was sombre in the lawyer’s office. Eight members of the Picodie family gathered together to hear the reading of their recently deceased father’s will. Around the table sat Eli, Ron, Agnes, Tim, Toni, Eric and Levi, while their oldest sister Julia prowled around the room, peering out of the windows at the streets below. The door opened and in stepped Sam, the family’s lawyer. All heads turned towards him in silence and he gave the group a small, respectful nod as he took a seat at the table between Tim and Toni.

Sam’s tone was solemn as he spoke. “I am so sorry that this day has come,” he said. “As you all know, Albert and I were great friends for a great many years. Today’s task is an unpleasant, but necessary, one. If you’ll permit me, I shall now read the terms of your father’s will…”

After several clauses concerning small donations to various charities and causes, the lawyer reached the part of most interest to the family members there assembled…

To Agnes, I bequeath 12,000 pounds.
To Eli, I bequeath 201,000 pounds.
To Eric, I bequeath 95,000 pounds.
To Levi, I bequeath 101,000 pounds.
To Ron, I bequeath 69,000 pounds.
To Tim, I bequeath 51,000 pounds.
To Toni, I bequeath 94,000 pounds.

At this point, Sam paused in his reading and an awkward silence fell. All eyes looked towards Julia, still standing, who asked pointedly, “And how much did father leave to me?”

The lawyer’s look was apologetic. “I’m really very sorry, Julia – but your father has left you... nothing.”

Julia swallowed hard. “Nothing? Nothing at all?! No money, no property, no possessions? Nothing?!

Her brothers and sisters averted their gazes in awkwardness, looking anywhere but at their obviously fuming older sister.

She continued. “Surely you haven’t read to the end, Sam? There must be more – read on!”

Sam shook his head. “I’m afraid that the only other gift in your father’s will… is to me.”

Julia snatched the paper out of the lawyer’s hands and read furiously for a moment, before with a roar she cast it into the air and slammed the door shut on her way out.

QUESTIONS: Why was Julia left out of her father’s will? How much money was bequeathed to the lawyer, Sam? Both answers are related to the precise amounts bequeathed to the other family members, which should also be explained.

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    $\begingroup$ "How much money was bequeathed to the lawyer, Sam?" The rest, obviously. $\endgroup$
    – msh210
    Sep 1, 2020 at 13:55

1 Answer 1

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So first is to note that

Albert Picodie is an anagram of Periodic Table. So the answer has to do with that.

I’d imagine that Julia got nothing because

No element has her name as a substring

As it turns out,

The kids (and Sam) get the sum of the atomic numbers of each element which contains their name as a substring x 1000 pounds.

To Agnes, I bequeath 12,000 pounds.

Element 12 is mAGNESium

To Eli, I bequeath 201,000 pounds.

Element 97 is berkELIum + Element 102 is nobELIum + Element 2 is hELIum

To Eric, I bequeath 95,000 pounds.

Element 95 is amERICium

To Levi, I bequeath 101,000 pounds.

Element 101 is mendeLEVIum

To Ron, I bequeath 69,000 pounds.

Element 5 is boRON + Element 38 is stRONtium + Element 26 is iRON

To Tim, I bequeath 51,000 pounds.

Element 51 is anTIMony

To Toni, I bequeath 94,000 pounds.

Element 94 is pluTONIum

Sam gets

62,000 pounds because of SAMarium

Julia then gets nothing because

No element contains the letters JULIA as a substring (yet).

Note that

In line 3, all of the children (and Sam) have a seat at the table, the Periodic Table, but Julia (who isn’t included in the will either) is prowling around the room, not seated at the table. That’s extremely well done foreshadowing!

Also,

@Greg Martin found that the order of those seated at the table—Eli, Ron, Agnes, Tim, Sam, Toni, Eric, Levi—corresponds with the order of the smallest atomic numbers related to each name: 2, 5, 12, 51, 62, 94, 95, 101. He also notes that the name Julia may have been chosen as a reference to Dr. Julia Lermontova, who refined Mendeleev's original periodic table and perhaps was "left out" by not getting the scientific credit she deserves. Well done, Greg! Great finds!

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @El-Guest - and well done for spotting the anagram clue even though I never displayed it all together at the same time :) Checkmark incoming! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Sep 1, 2020 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you! Very clever puzzle @Stiv — you hide things very nicely! $\endgroup$
    – El-Guest
    Sep 1, 2020 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ Note also that the order of those seated at the table—Eli, Ron, Agnes, Tim, Sam, Toni, Eric, Levi—corresponds with rot13(gur beqre bs gur fznyyrfg ngbzvp ahzoref eryngrq gb rnpu anzr—gjb, svir, gjryir, svsgl-bar, fvkgl-gjb, avargl-sbhe, avargl-svir, bar uhaqerq bar.) $\endgroup$ Sep 2, 2020 at 6:34
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    $\begingroup$ I'm guessing also Julia was chosen as a reference to rot13(Qe. Whyvn Yrezbagbin, jub ersvarq Zraqryrri'f bevtvany crevbqvp gnoyr naq creuncf jnf "yrsg bhg" ol abg trggvat gur fpvragvsvp perqvg fur qrfreirf.) $\endgroup$ Sep 2, 2020 at 6:37
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    $\begingroup$ @GregMartin Oh well done, I wasn't sure if anyone would spot those Easter Eggs! There's a really interesting article about women in this field at Nature - worth a read :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Sep 2, 2020 at 6:56

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