# A man, a plan, a canal

Another puzzle in the spirit of the Density™ puzzle. This one is initially easy but (I think) subsequently hard. Enjoy!

Hint:

The last row represents $$12$$ letters.

Hint 2:

The first row has $$4$$ multiplication equations.

Hint 3:

Ternary.

Hint 4:

The second row has $$2$$ words that hint at $$2$$ words in the final answer.

• The title leads me to assume that the coloured blocks represent (ROT13) vapbzcyrgr cnyvaqebzrf. I have no idea how to decipher what they are, though. Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 14:02
• Okay, so Hint 3 confirms a suspicion to me, that line 1 is rot13(N frg bs rdhngvbaf juvpu pna or erfbyirq gb trg oyhr = 0, terra = 1, naq lryybj = 2... ohg V unira'g lrg orra noyr gb hfr guvf hfrshyyl. V nyfb abgr gung yvar 2 vf Zbefr pbqr sbe FCNPR - ntnva jvgubhg pbafrdhrapr nf lrg...)
– Stiv
Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 23:44
• @Stiv All I'll say at this time is that rot13(gur bayl "pbqrf" hfrq urer ner Zbefr, greanel naq gur fvzcyrfg bs nyy. Gurer ner ab gevpxf, erq ureevatf be fvzvyne). :)
– Jens
Commented Dec 2, 2019 at 0:55
• Can't see past rot13(KZNF naq NAGF sebz gur obggbz yvarf hfvat greanel gevcyrgf) right now. Either of those of any relevance at all?! Not seeing an immediate connection...!
– Stiv
Commented Dec 2, 2019 at 23:03
• @Stiv What you found so far is all relevant! You are missing rot13(n Zbefr pyhr) though.
– Jens
Commented Dec 2, 2019 at 23:18

Okay, I believe the answer to this puzzle is:

A SANTA AT NASA

Why? Well, first of all note that the title is:

The start of a famous palindrome (A man, a plan, a canal... Panama). This made me think that we might be looking for a palindromic answer.

Line 1:

This is a set of multiplication equations, where each colour can be substituted by a number. Ultimately this yields: blue = 0, green = 1, yellow = 2 (since green^2 = green, blue × anything = blue, and the 'Ternary' clue would require the third digit to be 2...).

Line 2:

Two clues are hidden here. 1. Reading the dots and dashes as Morse code gives SPACE. 2. Splitting the coloured segments into four groups of 3 gives the ternary equivalents of 24, 13, 1 and 19, which in A1Z26 spells XMAS.

Line 3:

Two more clues are hidden here. 3. Reading the dots and dashes as Morse code gives 6222. 4. Reading the coloured triplets as ternary gives 1, 14, 20 and 19, which in A1Z26 spells ANTS.

How do we put all this together?

We know from the hints that XMAS and SPACE clue two words in the final answer. Also note that the digits of 6222 sum to 12, which is the total number of letters in the final answer... Is it too big a leap to guess that pairing 6222 with ANTS suggests our answer should have 6 A's, 2 N's, 2 T's and 2 S's?

What can we make from these letters that fits the themes of XMAS (Christmas) and SPACE? 'SANTA' and 'NASA' spring to mind. Slotting these into the appropriate spaces in the (1, 5, 2, 4) answer format and treating it as a palindrome automatically uses the leftover letters and yields the final answer: A SANTA AT NASA!