I am looking for an answer that consists of two parts(____ ____). The task is to somehow make sense of this word grid below with the help of the clue.

enter image description here


5 words hidden in a systematic way


One square, one letter


1 Answer 1


Having had this on my watchlist for a while, mulling it over from time to time, I think I finally have the answer...

Naja Naja - the scientific name of the Indian Cobra. In case I haven't got the identification quite correct, it might instead be Ophiophagus hannah, the King Cobra - but I will justify why I think it is the former rather than the latter...

First of all, note that this question was posted by the OP shortly after The scientific one! - the title is a reference to it. In this other puzzle the final target phrase was...

...the scientific name of an animal, found via word association after extracting several words from the initial puzzle. For this reason, I believe the target this time is similar - another animal - and will be findable via similar methods of word association.

So let's focus on the initial puzzle. We are supposed to interpret the visual clue on the left as:

Matrix notation - the left-hand side is reminiscent of the visuals from 1999's The Matrix, while the right-hand side shows a helpful crib sheet for various aspects of scientific notation (and, in fact, applying a reverse image search to that snippet directs you to a page where this image actually appears under the heading 'Math Notation Cheat Sheet' - useful confirmation).

So what is this?

Well, in mathematics, 'matrix notation' relates to the way that a mathematical matrix (a grid of cells/values) is depicted and referenced. Typically, this is of the following form (image from Wikipedia, rather than lots of unwieldy MathJax):

Matrix notation

Importantly, each individual cell is defined in this notation in terms of its row number ($i$) and column number ($j$): $a_{i,j}$ (with the top row being row 1 and the leftmost column being column 1). This is the information we need to proceed...

How do we apply this to the 5x5 matrix of cells containing words?

We need to think about that row number and column number - specifically, in each cell we need to look at the $i$th word and pull out its $j$th letter, where $i$ is the number of the cell's row in the matrix, and correspondingly $j$ is the number of its column (as per matrix notation).

For example, in the second cell on the top row ($a_{1,2}$) we look at the first word (PRAY) and take its second letter (R).

After doing this, look at the letters extracted in each column (as suggested by cells in each column having the same colour outline as each other) and read downwards to get 5 words:


Letter extractions


This is where the word association part kicks in. If we're looking for an animal then this points us towards a cobra - a venomous animal which snake charmers can make 'dance', often found in India. It then appears to be a coin-toss as to whether the royal-sounding 'King cobra' (the national reptile of India) is intended, or rather the 'Indian cobra', native to India and bearing markings resembling a pair of specs (spectacles). Since this latter keyword seems more specific to me I would root for the Indian cobra, though the case for the King cobra is also strong.

Spectacle pattern on Indian cobra
Image from Wikipedia.

The 'scientific' answer is thus Naja Naja (or Ophiophagus hannah).

  • $\begingroup$ Nice :) Finally solved then. I think I remebered I made a mistake with rot13(fcrpf), thought it was a signalement of the 'national one' as well. So intention was rot13(xvat). Nonetheless, the tick is yours! $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 13:02

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