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Emergency services recently received a puzzling distress call from someone claiming to be lost:


Hint A:

Responder: 911, what's your emergency?

Caller: Hello? Can you hear me?

Responder: Yes, I can hear you. What's your situation?

Caller: I appear to be lost. I just woke up here with no memory of coming.

Responder: Can you describe your surroundings?

Hint B:

Caller: Not really, it's just a big mess of colors.

Caller: Would you like a photo?

Responder: Sure.

Caller: Okay, I sent the picture.

Responder: That is indeed quite puzzling.

Hint C:

Responder: I mean, there are like 10,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000 places that could be! Let me run it through our system.

Responder: Don't worry, help is on the way.


The image:

Image sent to responder

So the question remains: Where is this poor caller?


Hint #1:

This puzzle is mobile-friendly, meaning there actually isn't any sort of steganography. The solution can be found with just a web browser.

Hint #2:

Don't overthink this, the solution is actually quite simple. I'm certain you'll know when you have it right.

Hint #3:

Going off of hint #2, the solution is pretty simple, but not necessarily easy to get to. There are multiple ways to arrive at the solution.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is this supposed to be a jpg? Or it should maybe be a png? $\endgroup$
    – Beothorn
    Jan 18 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ There was an answer saying "India, because its telephone code is +91", and another saying "Noisy-le-Grand, because the image is noisy". Apparently they got deleted. $\endgroup$
    – Stef
    Jan 26 at 10:45
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    $\begingroup$ I deleted it because of a hateful downvote! $\endgroup$
    – PDT
    Jan 30 at 13:07
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    $\begingroup$ @PDT Downvotes are painful but in terms of reputation, a downvote followed by an upvote is a gain ;) $\endgroup$
    – Stef
    Jan 31 at 9:46
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    $\begingroup$ @SnySmartie avar-bar-bar vf nyfb na rzretrapl ahzore va Netragvan, Pnanqn, Qbzvavpna Erchoyvp, Wbeqna, Zrkvpb, Cnxvfgna, Cnynh, Cnanzn, gur Cuvyvccvarf, Fvag Znnegra naq Hehthnl, nppbeqvat gb Jvxvcrqvn. $\endgroup$
    – enzo
    Feb 1 at 0:09

2 Answers 2

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I think the caller is at

The Googleplex: 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, California

  • "Not really, it's just a big mess of colors" is a reference to the colorful company logo, as well as the bicycles that people ride around the campus.

  • "I mean, there are like 10,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000 places that could be! Let me run it through our system." This is 1 followed by 100 zeroes, which is distinctively called a Googol, which is what Google is named after.

  • The static image is a reference to the disallowance of video on campus, which is why in the film The Internship, Georgia Tech stood in as a double for Google's campus.

  • Hint #1 is hinting at being able to plug the number into a search engine and deduce that it's called a Googol.

  • Hint #2 is hinting at the simplicity of the location being the name of the number in the phone conversation.

  • Hint #3 is hinting at the fact that anyone can go as a visitor, but it's not easy to get into as an employee.

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I think the caller is suffering from Visual snow syndrome.

A search on the net reveals- 911, sometimes written 9-1-1, is an emergency telephone number for Argentina, Canada, Dominican Republic, Jordan, Mexico, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, the Philippines, Sint Maarten, the United States, and Uruguay, as well as the North American Numbering Plan (NANP).

The caller could be from any of these countries. The fact that the caller was able to call the police suggest that that place had mobile service which eliminates the possibility of the caller being in a totally human-cutoff place like a jungle or a desert or near a volcano...

The caller also says he 'woke up'- so maybe someone hit him on the head and he fainted. The first line of the puzzle says- 'claiming' to be lost. Also the way the policeman said- Don't worry, help is on the way gives an impression that he already knows where the caller is(?). So I think the caller is not lost; He is in his neighborhood or city. A mugger most probably hit him on the head which gave him visual snow syndrome. And when he woke up, he thought he was in a new place. A concussion can also affect your memory...

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    $\begingroup$ This reminds me of a true story about a researcher who hiked to the top of a volcano with other researchers. It was night and the researcher looked at the sky and said "even here we can't see any stars even though we're far from the light pollution of cities". His friends were surprised by this declaration and that's how they found out that he was suffering from lack of oxygen because of the volcano emissions, which affected his vision and prevented him from seeing the stars. $\endgroup$
    – Stef
    Feb 13 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ I like this very much but it doesn't solve how the caller knows exactly where he is. Maybe it is a variation where the caller has some disease that makes him see this and can only be treated at one place, or the disease is super rare and he is the only person known to have it. It must also affect memory. $\endgroup$
    – Beothorn
    Feb 14 at 7:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Beothorn Yes. The picture attached seems very unlikely to be a picture of an actual place, if at all that is what it is meant to be in the first place. $\endgroup$ Feb 14 at 9:27
  • $\begingroup$ The puzzle's asking where the caller is, though; that suggests that there's supposed to be a way to name a specific place where they are. It also doesn't really explain the responder's odd response in Hint C? $\endgroup$
    – Idran
    Feb 15 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ Good guess, but this answer is incorrect. $\endgroup$ Feb 15 at 14:55

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