These words. They have a poetry to them, do they not? A mystical or religious significance? Perhaps they were born of the fundamental, ancient stuff of reality, from water or metal. Or maybe just something printed five times on an inspirational card.

Pity the world, or else this glutton be the Emperor Jack Southern. Ferice's twin, Stein's lighthouse, Higgs.

Why I am so sure that these words matter?

I redid the flavor text of the puzzle. For posterity, here is the old flavor text, but the new flavor text should be more helpful.

I found these words on a scrap of paper, tossed by the wind. To anyone else, they might've seemed to be a meaningless jumble. But I know that they hold a mystical significance, a weight of meaning. Why I am so sure that they matter?

I will give out hints approximately daily. Initial clues will be obscure, getting clearer as days go by.

Hint 1:

I didn't invent these words: I found them, every single one.

Hint 2:

The phrase talks about ten different things, with different parts of the phrase for each.

Hint 3:

Of the things in this phrase, while most are a single word, two are longer than a word, and two are shorter than a word.

Hint 4:

Each of the things in this phrase is a member of a group of a particular size.

Hint 5:

Each of the groups (and the things in them) is clued by the flavor text. There is a group relating to each of: poetry, mysticism, religion, the fundamental consituents of reality, ancient things, water, metal, the number five, and cards.

Hint 6:

Find the ten things in the phrase. Find the nine groups they belong to (one repeat). Find the sizes of those groups. Convert the sizes to letters.

Hint 7:

The ten things in the phrase can be found by subdividing the phrase into separate chunks. Every letter is in one of the chunks. There are no superfluous words or letters.

Hint 8:

Of the guesses in the comments, "Higgs" as in the Higgs boson is correct, as is "Pity the world, or else this glutton be" as in a line from Shakespeare's Sonnet 1. All other guesses are wrong: "Ferice" the town in Romania, "Stein" referencing Einstein, gluon, the lighthouse paradox, the twin paradox, "Emperor Jack" from a video game: None are correct. Nice tries, though, keep trying. I will confirm any correct guesses, either in comments or a partial answer.

Hint 9:


  • $\begingroup$ Can you give a hint? $\endgroup$ Mar 14 at 16:16
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @LoganSweeney it is a little too early to be asking for hints - this puzzle was posted far less than 24 hours ago! $\endgroup$
    – PDT
    Mar 14 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ @LoganSweeney Not sure if you'd call this a hint, but I redid the flavor text -- I wasn't satisfied with the old flavor text. $\endgroup$
    – isaacg
    Mar 14 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ Hm... didn't help... $\endgroup$ Mar 14 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ some of my thoughts: rot13('uvttf' erzvaqf zr bs uvttf obfba, naq fgrva'f yvtugubhfr pbhyq or ersreevat gb rvafgrva'f yvtugubhfr cnenqbk. gur 'gjva' cneg pbhyq or ersreevat gb gur gjva cnenqbk, ohg v'z abg fher jub srevpr vf. 'tyhggba' vf gjb g'f vafvqr tyhba, juvpu vf nabgure ryrzragnel cnegvpyr. creuncf guvf 'znggref' orpnhfr vg vf nobhg ryrzragnel cnegvpyrf naq 'ubyqf jrvtug' orpnhfr gur uvttf obfba vf vaibyirq?) $\endgroup$ Mar 14 at 22:31

1 Answer 1


This is not complete but was too long for a comment so I'll start it here and come back to it later. I was thinking:

In addition to the sonnet being one of a group of Shakepeare's sonnets, and the Higgs boson being one of a group of elementary particles, I also was thinking that "the Emperor" is one of a deck of Tarot cards, "jack" is one of a deck of standard playing cards, "Southern" is one of the world's oceans, "lighthouse" refers to the Lighthouse of Alexandria which is one of a group of ancient wonders of the world, "twin" is perhaps referring to the zodiac sign Gemini (or perhaps just more generally one of a group of two).

That would leave Ferice and Stein to refer to three remaining things, so I was thinking "Ferice" might actually be Fe (the symbol for the element iron) + rice (?) to account for two things, since Ferice doesn't appear to be a real word. That's as far as I got with it.

  • $\begingroup$ Great progress! $\endgroup$
    – isaacg
    Mar 25 at 19:57
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Ah, very good. If you allow me to muse a bit more ... rot13(Vs gur pbzzba n-v/m-kkiv vf hfrq, gur ahzore bs Funxrfcrner'f fbaargf gbb uvtu, fb V guvax vg zvtug or whfg bar bs gur sbhegrra yvarf bs n fbaarg (A). Naq Uvttf vfg cebonoyl bar bs svir obfbaf (R) engure guna bar bs friragrra ryrzragnel cnegvpyrf (D). Fb sne, gung jbhyq tvor AIZR O/Y TR ???. Uz. V guvax gur gjva vf bar bs gur gjryir fvtaf (Y), fb jr'er cebonoyl ybbxvat sbe AIZRebYbTL. Fb zhpu sbe zl Uvttf gurbel. Gur I pna or n H vs gur Sbby vf abg pbhagrq.) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Mar 25 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm I think you're on the right track, but I don't have an explanation for what exactly the two cases of 's are doing. $\endgroup$ Mar 30 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ Neither have I, @codewarrior0. The answer rot13(ahzrebybtl) is too good to be ignored and fits well ‒ with some exceptions (V and Y). The letters are in order, which means that "Ferice's" would have to encode R and O and "Stein's" should encode another O. The groups would belong to rot13(eryvtvba, zrgnyf naq gur ahzore svir). I thought that perhaps rot13(gur guvat eryngrq gb gur ahzore svir pbhyq or gur 18 funcrf bs cragbzvabrf, ohg gure ahzore bs anzrq cragbzvabhrf, bar bs juvpu vs S, vf bayl gjryir), but I'm not convinced. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Apr 3 at 5:51

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