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This puzzle is part of the Monthly Topic Challenge #11: Now in 3D.

Please do not write a computer program to solve this by brute force. Use of existing online tools like anagram solvers or dictionaries is okay, though it is a more interesting challenge to solve by hand. A solve path exists.


Brit has a set of 27 alphabet blocks. They depict the letters A-Z (one symbol per block) on each face, except for block 27, which has a picture of the sun.

She has stacked them into a 3x3x3 cube in the center of a table in front of her.

Brit announces: “The 9 letters facing me can be arranged to form a word describing the illumination of my cellphone.”

Gus, seated to her right, announces: “The 9 letters facing me can be arranged to form a word describing the direction the Mississippi River flows.”

Cary, seated to her left, announces: “The 9 letters facing me can be arranged to form a word describing the state of an outward curve.”

Otis, seated across from her, announces: “The 9 letters facing me can be arranged to form a word meaning ‘leaps too far’.”

Harold, standing over her shoulder, looks down at the stack and announces: “The 9 letters facing me can be arranged to form a word describing what something has become when it is made more civil or relatable.”

No one can see the block with the Sun. Which other block is not visible to anyone? (Explain) .

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    $\begingroup$ Findings: Sadly, a "nice" solution to the 9 letter, 6 face version of the problem does not seem to exist. There are only a tiny number of "nice" 5 face solutions, this being perhaps the best. Allowing famous proper names and unusual words adds a few hundred more, but still only for 5 faces. I have not fully investigated the 8-9 letter (1 sun) 6 face version, or the version where the sun is used for one duplicate letter block. $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Jun 20, 2023 at 13:06

1 Answer 1

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Q is the letter block that's hidden.

Otis sees 'overjumps', sharing U, S, and R with Gus, and E, M, and U with Harold. Gus sees 'Gulfwards', sharing G, L, and A with Brit, and U, D, and A with Harold. Brit sees 'backlight', sharing I, T, and C with Cary and A, H, and I with Harold. Cary sees 'convexity', sharing O, V, and E with Otis and I, N, and E with Harold, who sees 'humanized'.

Funny that her name is Brit, considering the spelling of the word Harold sees. If he were a Brit, he'd spell it with an S. (In any event, each person happens to see a word that starts — and, as M Oehm points out, ends — with the same letter his name does, presumably due to a predisposition to see such words.)

Conspiracy theorists may wish to note that the bottom panel might possibly spell spyflock (plus a sun). I guess Sherlock is the one who "reads" the side that's against the table: it certainly takes some sleuthing to figure out what letters are there, unless you're physically present at the table.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ha. Ninja'd (or dehumanized?). Congratulations! (By the way, I tought there was another reason why she's called Brit. And Harold Harold.) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Jun 20, 2023 at 6:25
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm are you referring to the "predisposition" I just edited in to the answer? $\endgroup$
    – msh210
    Jun 20, 2023 at 6:30
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's what I meant. You can also look at it from the other side, though, but I saw that too late. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Jun 20, 2023 at 6:32
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I've seen that. Well done. But what I meant was that rot13(gur anzrf naq jbeqf funer obgu gur svefg naq ynfg yrggref). I've tried to avoit rot13ing, but apparently my ability to obliquely point out stuff isn't so great ... $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Jun 20, 2023 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ Could we possibly get this written as text, for those who cannot read the image? $\endgroup$ Jun 21, 2023 at 1:53

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