A negative sign is not a Peanuts character!


Answer is a semi-thematic four word phrase.

Hint 1

What operation(s) do you have to apply to the numbers?

Hint 2 (minor spoiler)

The phrase you get after applying the operation(s) in Hint 1, plus part of the title, can be used to find the knowledge you need to proceed.

Hint 3 (updated)

If you have the right knowledge, the decimal portion has all you need to finish off this puzzle.

  • $\begingroup$ In Australian English, that title sounds dirty. Just sayin'. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Nov 20 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I can make a four-word phrase from it, but (1) only by ignoring some things and (2) it doesn't seem like a phrase that makes any sense. [EDITED to add:] More specifically, I need to ignore about 2/3 of the information apparently present in the puzzle. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Nov 20 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ what's the question? $\endgroup$ – balazs.com Nov 20 at 20:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The question is "What is the four-word phrase that PiIsNot3 has somehow encoded in these numbers, perhaps in a manner hinted at by the other text here present?". $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Nov 20 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan All of the information in this puzzle needs to be used to find the phrase I'm looking for. In particular, if you aren't using the knowledge tag, then you're not on the right track $\endgroup$ – PiIsNot3 Nov 20 at 20:50

Very partial solution

Since this has been open for quite a while with no obvious progress, I'll post what I've found so far. Maybe someone else will see whatever I'm currently missing.

First of all,

the given numbers are exactly $-x^2$ for these values of $x$: 16.2685, 21.5107, 4.5394, 4.6248, 9.5989, 14.6212, 7.6256, 16.6221, 15.5587, 16.6183, 19.3371. If we convert the integer parts to letters via A1Z26 we get PUDDINGPOPS. "Pudding Pops", according to Wikipedia, are "frosty ice pop treats originally made and marketed by Jell-O", first sold in the 1970s but since discontinued. So, these are $\sqrt{-y}$ where the $y$ are the numbers given, which we might prefer to write as $i\sqrt{y}$; or, alternatively, the numbers given are $(ix)^2$ where the $x$ are the numbers I have listed above. This suggests some sort of phrase involving the word "I" along with "SQUARE" or "ROOT" and, of course, "PUDDING POPS" (and perhaps also something like FLOOR or ROUND or INTEGER??), but (1) I can't think of any such thing that makes any kind of sense and (2) those fractional parts still need to be accounted for somehow. I can't get anything out of them with A1Z26, nor as phone keypad codes; considered as 4-digit numbers they don't seem obviously interesting; the main thing that strikes me is that they're almost all a little over 1/2, the two exceptions being instead a little over 1/4 in one case and 1/3 in the other.


a bit of web searching turns up this peculiar thing. Title: "The square root of minus Garfield"; main content is a Garfield comic (I think a real one) where in the first panel Jon says "The world is constantly changing", nothing at all happens in the second, and in the third Garfield thinks "They haven't stopped making frozen Pudding Pops, have they?". It looks as if we've located the [knowledge] we're supposed to be using.

What I'm meant to do with this is currently beyond me.

It's tempting to take the fractional parts as page numbers on that site, but there aren't that many -- the latest is 3845 -- so almost all of them just yield the last page. I note with interest that mezzacotta.net has in the past run puzzle competitions, but there doesn't seem to be a current one. In any case, heavy dependence on external resources is generally frowned on around here and I'm guessing that solving this puzzle isn't meant to depend on exhaustive knowledge of everything on mezzacotta.net. "Mezzacotta" means "half-cooked" but the only thing I can think of to do with that fact is to halve those four-digit numbers and anagram them :-) which doesn't seem promising, especially as several of them are odd. Or maybe subtract one half from each of those fractional parts that are just over 1/2 and ... then use them as page numbers on TSROMG? Nope, that doesn't produce anything obviously useful.

  • $\begingroup$ You are on the right track! I've added a third hint to hopefully make the next step easier to figure out. $\endgroup$ – PiIsNot3 Nov 28 at 20:21

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