There was a deafening metallic thunk as the rogue AI locked the door of the PuzzlingCorp server room, trapping the engineers inside. A countdown appeared on the computer screen... and began counting down.

"You have only a few precious minutes before I uncover the nuclear codes and destroy the world as you know it," BorgBot said, in its calm, perfectly logical voice. "Please do not attempt to resist."

"What do we do?" said one engineer, panicking. "We're going to die in here! It's too late! I never even got to finish Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..."

"No!" said the other, already rushing to the console. "I remember the person who built this AI, before it went rogue."

"...Mick? The nerd with the bifocals?"

"Yes, them! They had an administrative password that could shut the AI down. If we can figure out the password, we can stop it just in time. But I bet they would have hidden it..."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that it's a puzzle. Mick loved puzzles." The engineer pointed to a file on the computer desktop. "Look, there's a Nurikabe puzzle on their desktop. Maybe it means something?"

enter image description here


"And there's a Post-It note." The other engineer pulled it off and read it aloud. "W1, B0."

"What does that mean?" The engineer frowned. "There's another image file on the desktop next to it. It's the periodic table, but something doesn't look right..."

enter image description here

(You may have to click through to the large version!)

"It must all be connected," the other engineer said. "The administrative password must be hidden in there somehow. We've got to hurry before BorgBot releases the nuclear codes and takes over the world!"

  • $\begingroup$ this is hilarious $\endgroup$ – matt Jan 14 at 15:51

For the Nurikabe, basic deductions get here:

enter image description here

To avoid a shaded 2×2

in the bottom of columns 4 and 5, the bottommost 2 clue must go right. Some more standard logic gets us here:

enter image description here


avoiding a shaded 2×2 [on the left of rows 2 and 3], the top-left 2 must go downwards. And that lets us resolve the remainder of the puzzle.

enter image description here

And now, to figure out the passcode:

We can convert white to 1 and black to 0; reading off the first five rows as binary, and looking up the results in the given periodic table, gives Pa S Sc O De. So the password appears to be PASSCODE - not particularly secure.

  • $\begingroup$ Incredibly fast as usual :) $\endgroup$ – Sciborg Jan 14 at 5:49
  • $\begingroup$ Well, it's at least more secure than PASSWORD :D (if you ever played Uplink, pretty many computers have that exact password...) $\endgroup$ – Bubbler Jan 14 at 6:04
  • $\begingroup$ Trying to see if there's anything else hidden in there based on the changes to the periodic table, or if that's just a red herring? There are a lot more changes than are required in your solution I think... $\endgroup$ – Darrel Hoffman Jan 14 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ @DarrelHoffman Yes, I think it's just a red herring - I looked at the locations of all the changes and found nothing in particular. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Jan 14 at 17:18

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