Welcome to the Acme Corporation.

The Acme Corporation is the greatest company in the world, and it should be your utmost honor and privilege to be employed as an associate of the Corporation.

The Corporation employs a wide array of professionals handpicked by the Boss, each of them are the top professionals in their field, though many, of certain professions, such as chef, secretary, and physicist are not employed by the Boss.

The Corporation is located in the Acme Tower, a building with infinitely many floors, which is fitting of its name. The Corporation only has a finite number of employees, so each employee has their own floor, with a perfect arrangement by the Boss.

Your floor number should be several tens of billions high, but luckily, we have the most advanced elevator to boot. Some are quite lucky in their floor arrangement;

  • the cellist is 20,692,992 floors above the bassist,
  • the biologist and geologist are as far as possible from each other (with the biologist above the geologist, and you somewhere in between),
  • and the Boss is the only employee who occupies more than one floor (yet he doesn't want to be in higher than ten thousand floors).

In a few months, the Boss plans to add more employees, including an actor, director, artist, colorist, etc. but no employees will change their floor number by then.

Before we proceed, let me test you on your capabilities as an employee of this Corporation. There may be many answers, yet there may also be none; if you know enough, you know it all.

  1. What is your floor number?
  2. What is the floor number of the Boss?
  3. What are the floor numbers of the biologist and geologist?
  4. Who is the person occupying the highest floor, and what is his floor number?

Hint 1:

The only employee in the problem whose profession was not directly mentioned has a floor number of 41438.

Hint 2:

All the answers are Words™, and only the answers of Q2 and Q4 aren't Q Words™. And check the tags!

Hint 3:

Try typing the professions in capitals.

Hint 4:


  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If you already put the hint in a spoiler box, then there is no need for rot13 (which is a bit annoying). Only in comments where spoiler boxes are unavailable do we have to rot13. $\endgroup$ – WhatsUp Sep 4 '20 at 11:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Sorry for that :) I will unrot it $\endgroup$ – teed Sep 4 '20 at 11:37
  • $\begingroup$ The question says that the Boss is on more than one floor and then asks "what is the floor number of the Boss?". Would you like to clarify? $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Sep 5 '20 at 20:13
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    $\begingroup$ The Boss has many floors but only stays in one; That one room the Boss actually stays in has a floor number less than ten thousand. What is the floor number of that room? $\endgroup$ – teed Sep 5 '20 at 22:03

I'm a bit confused by some things, but: To determine someone's floor number,

interpret the letters of their job as hexadecimal, using 1337-style decodings where necessary.

So the cellist and the bassist

are on floors 0xCE11157 and 0xBA55157 respectively, whose difference is indeed 20692992;

the biologist and geologist

are on floors 0xB10106157 and 0x6E0106157 respectively; I guess "as far as possible from one another" means that we take G=6 rather than G=9, so it's "as far as possible given what their jobs are".

The Boss

has an actual job title of "CEO" and is therefore on floor 0xCE0 = 3296. (I confess that I only figured this out after some fairly heavy hinting in TSL chat.) Perhaps he has multiple floors because he is also the 0xB055 (and maybe even also the 0x8055).

In a few months

we are adding a bunch of people with R in their job titles. Maybe this is to be interpreted as an A? Or maybe there's some clever twist I haven't figured out.

Since I am an associate, my floor

is 0xA550C1A7E = 44376529534.

The Boss

is on floor 8055.

The biologist and geologist

are on floors 47514161495 and 29528973655 respectively.

The highest floor occupied

seems to depend on what employees there are, which we haven't been told unless the list here is complete. Of the ones here, the biologist is certainly highest. Or are we being invited to find a possible profession leading to a very high floor number? That seems kinda painful, but I remark that if we allow multiple words then the biologist could specialize a bit and become a CELL BIOLOGIST on floor 0xCE11B1019157 = 226575379435863. (OP indicates in TSL chat that multiple words weren't intended. Perhaps ACME Corp. needs a DIALECTOLOGIST or, less likely useful but higher-floored, an ECCLESIOLOGIST; these are the longest in my computer's dictionary using letters ABCDEF, O, IL, Z, S, G, T.

There is no chef, secretary or physicist because

H and Y are not interpretable as hexadecimal digits.

The unnamed employee in hint 1

is an AIDE.

In an earlier version of this answer

I attempted to explain some of the curious features of the question by allowing numbers to be read in decimal as well as in hexadecimal. After a bit of prompting from OP in TSL chat, I have abandoned that idea and tried to explain things differently.

I don't yet have an explanation for the new employees expected in a few months

beyond the fact that if we don't mind taking R to mean A then their professions are acceptable. If there's something more going on -- e.g., something that's going to change about what conversions we let ourselves do -- then it's not obvious to me.


VERY partial answer:

The geologist is obviously on the first floor because otherwise he would be closer to the biologist than need be.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Sorry, no one's in the first floor :) Wlhile they would indeed be separated as far as possible, it is impossible for the Boss to follow that arrangement. When I said "as far as possible from each other", this was to account for the flexibility in the Boss' perfect arrangement scheme, which you can figure out from the other clues. rot13(Gurl ner frcnengrq orgjrra frireny ovyyvba sybbef ng zbfg, naq gur trbybybtvfg vf graf bs ovyyvba sybbef nobir gur svefg.) rot7(Ayf hwwsfpun shalyhs aopurpun vu aol ahnz) $\endgroup$ – teed Sep 4 '20 at 21:32
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    $\begingroup$ Also, even if this was right, it's not enough information for a partial answer. Partial answers should make some verifiable progress - this should perhaps be a comment. $\endgroup$ – bobble Sep 4 '20 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ @bobble what can I do about it? $\endgroup$ – teed Sep 4 '20 at 23:55
  • $\begingroup$ I'm late but, based on the hints (the first two, which I saw at the time this answer was posted), and by extension the nature of the puzzle, it's very unlikely that the answer would be that straightforward. $\endgroup$ – oAlt Sep 6 '20 at 5:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @oAlt You're not late at all! It's actually more straightforward than you think. $\endgroup$ – teed Sep 6 '20 at 13:20

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