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This puzzle is part of the Monthly Topic Challenge #1: Restricted Title: xkcd 1xxx


One for my fellow mapheads and pub quiz fans... There are many puzzles on PSE which use one-or-two-letter abbreviations to create coded messages - using, for example, country ISO codes, US state abbreviations, UK postcodes, or the Periodic Table. However, often we find ourselves quite limited in the messages we can create via these means, as their alphabets simply do not give much scope for a message of any real length or complexity.

In that vein, my question to you today is: What do you get if you combine two or more of these data sources? Use the images below to help you figure out the 12-letter answer (or, hang on, is it a 2-letter answer?!).

This puzzle will require much looking-up of information (use the links provided) or a good head for trivia. You have been TUNGSTEN-ARGENTINA-NORTHLONDON-ERAWALED...

Map of the world with certain countries labelled with numbers

Map of the US with certain states labelled with numbers

Map of UK postcodes with certain postcodes replaced with numbers

Periodic Table with certain elements labelled with numbers

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  • 5
    $\begingroup$ In the words of Randall, maybe I should just go to bed... $\endgroup$
    – Auribouros
    Jul 26 at 14:19
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ UK postcodes? That's a new one. (For the record: This puzzle is Epic.) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Jul 26 at 18:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Congratulations Stiv on surpassing 100k in shorter than usual time. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Jul 28 at 7:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks Tom :) I'm glad to have been able to contribute to this brilliant and creative community - I've learned a lot while here, and I'm still learning daily! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jul 28 at 8:07

2 Answers 2

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What do you get if you combine two or more of these data sources?

You get:

EXTENDED PLAY (EP) !!!


By marking the correct code on each map, (World, US, UK, Periodic Table) we see that each number from 1-131 has its own unique code.

Putting them in a table, and reversing the code for red numbers:

enter image description here

We can see this is actually a list of more elements, states, postcode areas and countries, some backwards (marked with a †):

XENON†, TELLURIUM†, ERITREA, ANGUILLA, PORTSMOUTH, HAWAII†, ETHIOPIA†, NORWAY, TRURO†, HYDROGEN, OLDHAM†, NITROGEN, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, NEODYMIUM, LEICESTER†, WASHINGTON†, ARGON, MAINE†, URANIUM, IDAHO, ST ALBANS, LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA, MASSACHUSETTS, BATH, LAOS, YTTRIUM, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, RHODE ISLAND, MAURITIUS†

Next,

Taking the appropriate code, and reversing if backwards, we get:

EX ET ER AI PO IH TE NO RT H LO N DO ND EL AW AR EM U ID AL LA PA MA BA LA Y TT RI UM

And guess what? We have to do the same again! This list hides:

EXETER, ETHIOPIA†, NORTH LONDON, DELAWARE, PALLADIUM†, ALABAMA†, YTTRIUM

So now, once again taking the appropriate code:

EX TE N DE DP LA Y

We get the final answer:

EXTENDED PLAY or to abbreviate, EP!!

Which fits the title, as an EP is 'Longer than usual'!

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  • $\begingroup$ You beat me by 8 minutes on a 60 minute write up! Nice job :) $\endgroup$
    – cap
    Jul 26 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ @cap wow close one! The writeup was certainly fiddly :P $\endgroup$ Jul 26 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ Great job working your way through this one :) Hopefully you enjoyed this 'longer than usual' puzzle! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jul 27 at 6:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Stiv I did very much so, and congrats on 100k!!!! Couldn’t be more deserved and hope to see 100 more for you :) $\endgroup$ Jul 27 at 8:07
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This puzzle is definitely longer than usual. The reason is because it is an

EXTENDED PLAY or EP

We start by following the instructions and gathering all the letters:

Blue numbers mean take the letters in order. Red mirrored numbers mean reverse the letters.

1 NO 2 NE 3 XM 4 U 5 Ir 6 UL 7 LE 8 Te 9 RI 10 TR 11 EA 12 aN 13 GU 14 IL 15 LA 16 Po 17 RT 18 S 19 Mo 20 UT 21 HI 22 IA 23 WA 24 HA 25 IP 26 OI 27 hT 28 EN 29 OR 30 WA 31 YO 32 RU 33 RT 34 H 35 YD 36 RO 37 Ge 38 nM 39 AH 40 DL 41 oN 42 IT 43 RO 44 GE 45 N 46 DO 47 MI 48 NI 49 CA 50 nR 51 E 52 Pu 53 BL 54 IC 55 NE 56 OD 57 Y 58 MI 59 UM 60 rE 61 Ts 62 EC 63 IE 64 LN 65 OT 66 GN 67 IH 68 sA 69 W 70 Ar 71 gO 72 NE 73 NI 74 AM 75 uR 76 AN 77 I 78 UM 79 I 80 DA 81 HO 82 ST 83 Al 84 Ba 85 nS 86 LA 87 NC 88 AS 89 TE 90 rP 91 eN 92 NS 93 YL 94 VA 95 Ni 96 Am 97 AS 98 SA 99 CH 100 US 101 E 102 TT 103 Sb 104 At 105 H 106 La 107 O 108 SY 109 TT 110 RI 111 U 112 Mt 113 RI 114 nI 115 DA 116 DA 117 ND 118 TO 119 B 120 Ag 121 OR 122 Ho 123 DE 124 iS 125 LA 126 Nd 127 SU 128 iT 129 Ir 130 UA 131 M

The letters form a long string. We can

break the string down like so:

NONEX MUIrULLET eRITREA aNGUILLA PoRTSMoUTH IIAWAH AIPOIhTE NORWAY ORURT HYDROGen MAHDLo NITROGEN DOMINICAn REPuBLIC NEODYMIUM rETsECIEL NOTGNIHsAW ArgON ENIAM uRANIUM IDAHO ST AlBanS LANCASTEr PeNNSYLVANiA mASSACHUSETTS bAtH LaOS YTTRIUM tRInIDAD AND TOBAgO RHoDE iSLANd SUiTIrUAM

Then we again

Find two letter codes for each of the items. Reversed words get reversed symbols:

NONEX eX
MUIrULLET eT
eRITREA ER
aNGUILLA AI
PoRTSMoUTH PO
IIAWAH IH
AIPOIhTE TE
NORWAY NO
ORURT RT
HYDROGen H
MAHDLo LO
NITROGEN N
DOMINICAn REPuBLIC DO
NEODYMIUM Nd
rETsECIEL EL
NOTGNIHsAW AW
ArgON Ar
ENIAM EM
uRANIUM U
IDAHO ID
ST AlBanS AL
LANCASTEr LA
PeNNSYLVANiA PA
mASSACHUSETTS MA
bAtH BA
LaOS LA
YTTRIUM Y
tRInIDAD AND TOBAgO TT
RHoDE iSLANd RI
SUiTIrUAM UM

Then we

break that string down: eXeTER AIPOIHTE NORTH LONDON dELAWArE MUIDALLAP AMABALA YTTRIUM

And do the same thing:

eXeTER EX
AIPOIHTE TE
NORTH LONDON N
dELAWArE DE
MUIDALLAP dP
AMABALA LA
YTTRIUM Y

And we get our answer:

EXTENDED PLAY

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    $\begingroup$ Nice work cap :) Always a shame to get pipped to the post after such a lot of work, but well done for seeing it through to the end! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jul 27 at 6:59

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