Bruce found a nice quote on the web, then wrote it in on a square piece of paper and left it somewhere in his room. The quote had exactly 64 characters excluding spaces. He has written the characters in 8 rows and 8 columns, ignoring word-breaking.

His younger sister Kim was helping Bruce to clean his room and thought the quote was garbage. So she ripped the paper into 64 equal pieces. Fortunately every character (no spaces) was on a separate piece of paper and she had some rules for ripping a piece of paper. Also she didn't scramble the pieces and left them in the stack she achieved.

Image from Fresh Cookies blog

Bruce figured out that she had some rules for ripping the paper:

  • She had started with paper heads up.
  • Rip paper(s) into exact halves from top to bottom, one held in her right hand and the other in her left.
  • Put the right hand piece(s) on top of the left hand piece(s), and hold them in her left hand.
  • If the pieces are not square shaped, rotate them counter-clockwise.
  • Rip again from top to bottom.

The order of characters on piece of papers from front to back was:


Bruce had no problem recovering his quote from the pieces (not web). Can you recover the quote?

PS. I created this puzzle, so would love to hear your opinion.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Fortunately each character (no-space) was is separate piece and she was able to do exactly the same sequence of her actions for ripping a piece of paper." I'm having trouble understanding this sentence and the next one. Are you saying that she ripped them in a way that only one non-space character on each piece? And then you're saying that she didn't scramble the pieces, but left them in the stack she achieved? $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2014 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ @EnvisionAndDevelop: that's right. I will edit question $\endgroup$
    – Rafe
    Sep 24, 2014 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ This was quite a fun puzzle - in particular, the rotation step made it quite a bit trickier and more fun to solve. It would be interesting to see more variations on this. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Watts
    Sep 26, 2014 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


This is what was written on the paper:


The quote is:

A Flower Cannot Blossom Without Sunshine, And Man Cannot Live Without love.

How I figured this out:

The only tricky part about following the instructions in reverse is how she rotates the paper. During her last tear, the letters had been rotated three times (tops on the right), so just before the last tear letters of odd-numbered rows were still connected to the letter right below it.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Beat me to it since I had to go to a meeting! I didn't solve it the same way, though. Instead of reversing the instructions I just started with an 8x8 grid with 64 unique characters and followed the instructions to get final result, then substituted the scrambled letters of the message into this grid. $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2014 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ I thought about doing it that way, but going in reverse seemed like more fun. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Watts
    Sep 24, 2014 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ Is there any formula to code or encode a $4^n$ characters length text? (with given ripping rules) $\endgroup$
    – Rafe
    Sep 24, 2014 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ I assume that the quote was centered in the page both horizontally and vertically? $\endgroup$
    – Neil
    Sep 25, 2014 at 8:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @RobWatts, yeah, I know of one way: place each line between two backtick characters. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Sep 25, 2014 at 16:50

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