# Signal in the Noise

What time should I be there?

Hint 1

Linguistics is important

Hint 2

The title contains a subtle hint

Hint 3

Punctuation is irrelevant, and the order of the words matters.

Hint 4

Try reading it allowed

Gnu: Hint 5

Don't think two hard

Hint 6

Hint 7

Even if you can't read or speak English, a sufficiently informative dictionary is all you need to solve this puzzle.

New: Hint 8

There are several key words in the passage. There is a simple rule that they all follow, in terms of their role in the solution.

And if that isn't enough, this might help (but it might spoil the solution, so if you want to solve it on your own, read at your own risk)

Koan 0

Through a minuscule change, light shines upon the beginning.

# UPDATE:

@puzzledPig has posted a correct solution, though @ffao was the first one to make the big breakthrough.

I am interested, though, to see whether anyone can fully decode the Koan.

• I was actually editing this question until I saw hint 1. Now I'm facepalming at my own stupidity. Jul 3, 2017 at 3:57
• Before you ask, the typo in Hint 4 is completely intentional Jul 5, 2017 at 16:59
• All typos are intentional Jul 5, 2017 at 18:39
• Hint 6 is a bit cryptic, but if you get it you should be able to solve the puzzle Jul 6, 2017 at 21:03
• I feel this would have been a better puzzle if you had clearly separated out the narrator's voice from the friend's voice and only put clues in the friend's part. As it is, 'you' the narrator are gleaning clues as to what time to meet your friend from your own retelling, not from anything your friend told you, which doesn't make much sense. Jul 12, 2017 at 16:22

ffao's answer confirmed my suspicions: I think the answer is

12:00

With my reasoning being:

The hints started me on the heteronym path, and I saw four initially - "Polish", "record", "resume", and "invalid". I could not make heads or tails of that, so I started looking at the words around them, and saw that the words immediately following each are Niko, online, obviously, and not - leading to NOON.

Update 2:

Taking a stab at the Koan once again, after archaephyrryx's comment/hint:

Might it refer to

the Polish/polish heteronym pair?

Because

I forgot that "minuscule" is also used to mean "related to lowercase letters;" with that in mind, changing the letter P to minuscule causes light to shine (as reflected off polished metal, perhaps?) in the beginning of the series of heteronyms.

• Is this correct? Jul 10, 2017 at 16:05
• Given the hints, the OP's comments to various answers and the koan, it's the safest bet, in my opinion. Jul 10, 2017 at 16:13
• I feel like this one is the correct answer, if not then surely the closest? Jul 10, 2017 at 16:15
• This is correct Jul 10, 2017 at 19:00
• Your Koan solution is off the mark. Maybe look up the word "minuscule" in a dictionary... Jul 11, 2017 at 18:07

This follows Morgan's and M Oehm's observations about hint 6. This might all be irrelevant, but it is too long to post as a comment and I felt it might be useful :)

There seem to be some heteronyms (words with same writing but different pronunciations) hidden in the text.

My best friend, who happens to be Polish, Niko, called me up the other day.

Polish, from Poland, or polish, to make shiny

He told me that he had found an old record online, by a musician from his hometown.

record, an item of information, or record, to make a record.

I asked him whether he was going to buy it, but he let me know that he had quit his job, and didn't want to make any big purchases until he had a steady source of income.

Unsure if there's any here.
Maybe job, work, and Job, book of the Bible? OP confirms this is not intentional.

Since I happen to have a side-job helping people with their CVs, I offered to help write his resume, obviously for free.

resume, to continue after interruption, or resume, a CV.

He thanked me for the offer, but said that that wasn't going to work, since his work visa had become invalid not too long ago, so he was going to have to renew it at the Consulate.

invalid, not valid, or invalid, a sickly person.

He asked me to meet him there tomorrow, but he hung up before I could ask him what time he meant. What time should I be there?

I don't know at the moment. I have four words (might have missed some) and maybe those combine to form a new word. Or maybe we just want a time that has the same property, though the closest I can get is evening, which is only an approximate indication.

• You are on the right track! 'Job' is unintentional, as I didn't account for it being treated as a heteronym in the traditional sense (some sources list it, others don't). Other than that, you are more than halfway to the solution. Jul 10, 2017 at 11:03
• I think you have found all heteronyms in the text. Now have a look at the words right after them. :) Jul 10, 2017 at 12:35

7:45

Reason:

The punctuation in the paragraph is incorrect. After replacing commas with dashes, you get the sequence
--.,, .,.,- .,,,.
which I believe is morse code for 745 or 7:45.
Also, the word signal in the title could be hinting at the morse code?

See:

• I feel like it should be "my best friend Niko - who happens to be Polish - called me up the other day...
– mike
Jul 3, 2017 at 6:00
• Which supports your edit 1
– mike
Jul 3, 2017 at 6:00
• Ooo I was thinking that too but I didn't know if I was allowed to switch words around @mik_blom Jul 3, 2017 at 6:12
• Interesting theory, but not correct. Also see hint 3 (new) Jul 3, 2017 at 19:49

It's too late, he called you the other day, which would imply earlier than yesterday, and he wanted to meet you tomorrow. You already let him down.

• > "He asked me to meet him there tomorrow" Tomorrow is relative to the time that this narration is being provided, it is not a direct quote from Niko. Also, "the other day" can be used to mean "yesterday." Jul 10, 2017 at 19:13
• Yes I was just being funny xD Jul 10, 2017 at 19:14
• By all rights, this should be the real solution :P Jul 10, 2017 at 19:15

Now we know the answer is

Noon

I'm gonna have a go at answering the Koan, building off of puzzledPig's attempt.

"Through a minuscule change":

changing capital P on Polish to lowercase p to make polish

"Light shines upon the beginning":

Knowing that N is the first letter of the answer, we can consider this to be the beginning of the "light" which is shining. The "light" is able to shine now because the capital P, which was initially blocking the light, is now (physically) lowered into a new, lower-case p. Ironically enough, the answer is about sunlight too; Noon, representing the moment in which the sun shines at its highest and most brightest.

• The sunlight part is unintentional, but otherwise you are almost 100% correct. There is a small detail that your answer doesn't address, but you cracked the first half of the Koan. Jul 14, 2017 at 17:56

2:30

because

from the sentence "he was going to have to renew it at the Consulate" read aloud sounds an awful lot like "half two" or half past two.

• Yet another interesting solution. This isn't the correct solution, though. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Jul 5, 2017 at 18:34

REVISED Solution:

By 2:42, but not between 2 to 2:30.

Observation:

Taking only parts that Niko said, and taking note of likely important words in bold:

He told me that he had found an old record online, by a musician from his hometown. he let me know that he had quit his job, and didn't want to make any big purchases until he had a steady source of income. He thanked me for the offer, but said that that wasn't going to work, since his work visa had become invalid not too long ago, so he was going to have to renew it at the Consulate. He asked me to meet him there tomorrow

Important clue:

Niko is Polish, and “half past” is expressed in Polish as “half to”.
So the "not too to half to to" is most likely saying "not 2 to half past 2 (i.e. not 2 to 2:30)".

Yields:

"line by to until come for the to not too to half to to."
line by 2, until come 42, not 2 to half past 2.

or:

"by to for the to not too to half to to"
by 2:42, not 2 to half past 2.

Conclusion:
Both interpretations seem to suggest that he needs to be there by 2:42, but not between 2 to 2:30.

• There are, as you note, way too many numbers for that to be the one correct answer. How did you pick them? Jul 6, 2017 at 13:45
• Knot quiet, butt gneiss tri Jul 6, 2017 at 21:02
• Okay @archaephyrryx, I revised my answer. This time going with the idea from MorganG of only using what Niko says. Jul 7, 2017 at 1:29

I think the intended answer is

2:00

Method:

Taking only the words that Niko said, and replacing any word that has a homophone by its homophones, you get

[I] found an old record online, (bi,buy,bye) a musician from [my] hometown. [I] quit [my] job, and didn't want (too,two) make any big purchases until [I] had a steady source of income. that wasn't going (too,two) work, since [my] work visa had become invalid (knot) (to,two) long ago, so [I am] going (too,two) (halve) (too,two) renew it at the Consulate.

But I honestly can't make sense of the sentence buy two two knot two two halve two, so I am assuming that because Niko repeats the number to/too/two so much, he just really wants to drill it in our heads that we're meeting at 2:00.

Oh, and regarding hint 6

The atomic number for Lead (Pb) is 82. Lead is a word that can be read in two ways - "he likes to lead people around" or "my fishing weight is made of lead", so I believe it's just a hint to the homophonic nature of the puzzle.

• But lead/lead are homographs -- they look the same but are pronounced differently and have different meanings. So the latest hint seems to be in disagreement with previous hints, which are about homophones. Jul 7, 2017 at 5:12
• You are very close. Your solution to hint 6 is on the right track, but @MOehm has the right idea. Jul 7, 2017 at 18:51
• Nice work Morgan, I updated my solution building upon yours. Jul 7, 2017 at 19:06

I believe the answer may be

12:21

Thought process:

Building on ffao's answer, I considered the following words from the paragraph:

polish, record, resume, invalid

"Polish" (adj) and "polish" (verb) have 1 letter (o) pronounced differently.
"record" (noun) and "record" (verb) have 2 letters (e and o) pronounced differently.
"resume" (noun) and "resume" (verb) have 2 letters (u and e) pronounced differently.
"invalid" (adj) and "invalid" (noun) have 1 letter (a) pronounced differently.

Putting these together, in the order they appear, gives 12:21.

This method seems to be supported by Hints 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8, however,

My solution has nothing to do with heterographs, which archaephyrryx is consistently hinting at. (allowed/aloud), (two/too), (gnu/new), "knot quiet butt gneiss tri", etc.

• I think puzzledPig's answer is most likely the intended solution since that answer seems much more deliberate Jul 10, 2017 at 17:57
• The heterographs were merely an indirect way of pointing people towards the heteronyms, without revealing the solution too easily and too early. In fact, "don't think two hard" and "try reading it allowed" were meant to be taken at face value as well, since people were trying to read too deeply into numerology early on, and reading the passage aloud might cause people to notice the heteronyms more easily than reading it in their head would. Jul 10, 2017 at 19:11
• Also, given the actual solution, Niko might not be that mad at you for showing up at 12:21 Jul 10, 2017 at 19:17
• 21 minutes late isn't too bad! Definitely should have followed "don't think two hard" a bit more! Fun puzzle; I'm tempted to write my own more in line with my reasoning... Jul 10, 2017 at 19:27