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Author Topic: BBC Code challenge  (Read 8293 times)
Ted
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« on: August 11, 2011, 10:28:19 AM »

Some of you may have been watching the BBC2 programme by Marcus du Sautoy on Wednesday evenings - The Code.

There is a challenge associated with the programme in which I am taking part.

One of the clues in the next stage of the challenge appears to be related to astronomy - so I thought I'd ask for a little help here.

A drawing appears (to me) to show a part of the solar system - Sun, Mercury, Venus and Earth and Moon.  It shows 3 alignments, 2 of which are dated and the third with a ? - possibly indicating you have to calculate the missing date.

If the second one has the Earth at 12 o'clock then then third, with the Earth at 9 o'clock should be 9 months later maybe? But that doesn't seem to match the first one with the Earth at about 2:30 as the 7th April.

Any ideas?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/features/code/


* solar.jpg (114.63 KB, 420x662 - viewed 477 times.)
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clockmanFR
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2011, 11:12:14 AM »

Hmm. Being a clock and watch designer and manufacturer, this looks like a gearing problem to me. (mechanical orrery).

Sitting down with a calculator you can work out the proportional changes over a given known time and these will therefore match drawing No 3.

However, this being the end of the week my brain has slowed down.

Good luck.
 
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Ted
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2011, 11:26:03 AM »

Yes, I expect the relative positions of Mercury and Venus are important to the solution.  That's why it isn't totally straightforward.
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MarkB
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2011, 12:18:11 PM »

It looks like the Earth is going anticlockwise around the sun. If January 1st was at 6 o'clock, then April 1st would be at 3 o'clock, July 1st at 12 o'clock and October 1st at 9 o'clock. Looks roughly consistent to me and I would guess that the answer lies around the middle to late September.

Given the shorter duration orbit on Mercury (88 days) they are useful in narrowing it down to a specific day. Specifically, Mercury is in the same position on the 17th of Jun as it is on the target date, so we're talking a multiple of 88 days. In fact, one complete orbit of Mercury puts us at 13th September, so that would be my guess.

Venus is probably just shown for context and to get the planets right - it's position doesn't really add anything.

Am I right?
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Ted
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2011, 12:21:19 PM »

Brilliant - I hadn't considered the direction of rotation. The 10th September is a specific challenge date.

The zodiac sign in there is Capricorn - considered an Earth sign, so was probably a clue.
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2011, 12:28:41 PM »

Yes, looking more closely, Mercury on the target date is slightly more clockwise the position on the 17th of Jun and Mercury is going anti-clockwise based on the difference between 7th Apr and 17th Jun (71 days). So it is probably slightly less than one full orbit.

You'd need to get a protractor out to measure precisely how many days less than a full orbit it is, but given that the 10th of September has some significance then it looks like the right answer.

BTW, I'm pretty sure that the capitalisation in the text below also adds some significant clue - probably an anagram but I can't be bothered to work it out.
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2011, 12:52:08 PM »

Hi
I also drafted a reply which is very much in agreement with Mark.


Ted if you are correct

Assuming we are viewing from the solar north pole

them mercury revolves anti-clockwise in an approx. 88 day period
Venus revolves anti-clockwise with a period of approx. 225 days
Earth revolves anti-clockwise with a period of approx. 365 days
The moon revolves anti-clockwise with a period of 27.3 days (sidereal)

There is 71 days between the 7th April and the 17th June, though no year is specified
so it could easily be 71+n*365.

in 71 days
Mercury rotates approximately 290 degrees anti-clockwise so the diagram looks about right
Venus rotates approx. 113.5 degrees anti-clockwise, the angle looks a bit low to me
Earth c 70 degrees possibly OK
Moon rotates a bit over two and a half times and ends up 216 degrees which looks right.

Now Mercury is in the same position almost for the unknown date so 88 days later or 13 Sept would fit. The other planets seem about the right place and the moon revolves 3 whole times + 80 degrees. Thus my guess is indeed the 13th September
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Ted
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2011, 01:02:07 PM »

All the other dates in the challenge are 2011 - so I would expect this to be too.

Thanks for all the help.  This clue represents about 0.5% of the total!
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MarkB
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2011, 01:07:59 PM »

This clue represents about 0.5% of the total!

Ah, we haven't helped very much then!

Good luck with the rest.
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2011, 01:32:21 PM »

The moon revolves anti-clockwise with a period of 27.3 days (sidereal)

Yes, I foolishly forgot the moon. With the shortest orbit it really should give the most accuracy and the positions of Venus and Mercury become insignificant.

However, if we assume the answer we have is correct then there are 85 days between the position on the 17th of Jun and the target date. To a first approximation, this should have the moon doing slightly over three full orbits (6th September would be 3 full orbits), and it should be at more or less the same position relative to the Earth. According the the diagram it has probably done a bit over a quarter less turn than that (I think it is going clockwise) or roughly 8 or 9 days less. This would push us to late August (29th?).

I still suspect that the answer is the 10th since it is consistent with Mercury and has other significance, but I'm not fully convinced that the moon's position is is consistent.

Is there another significant date around the end of August?
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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2011, 01:36:03 PM »

Hmm, the Earth is in the wrong position for the end of August so 10th September is still a winner. I think that the Moon's position might not be accurately drawn unless we're looking at a different year altogether.
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StBarnabas
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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2011, 01:38:53 PM »

All the other dates in the challenge are 2011 - so I would expect this to be too


Ted
if this is indeed 2011 then the full moon is on the 12th. Looking at the relative Earth, Moon, Sun positions then the diagram is for about 2 days after full moon. This would fit in with the 14th. The 17th June diagram looks also about two days after full moon and there was indeed a full moon on the 15th June and indeed a total lunar eclipse. I would therefore revise my best guess to the 14th September
Sean

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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2011, 01:59:32 PM »

and the significance of the Capital (or lower-case) letters? whistlie
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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2011, 02:09:44 PM »

and the significance of the Capital (or lower-case) letters? whistlie

Martin
no significance should I suppose use Moon when referring to our Moon, but moon when referring to moons in general such as the moons of Jupiter. My skills are more mathematical than language though so I could stand corrected!
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« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2011, 02:15:43 PM »

If you look at the "handwritten" text at the bottom, several capital letters appear, apparently without rhyme or reason, which raised the question "are the capitalised (or lower-case) letters in themselves a puzzle/clue?
- if you pull out the capital letters it gives a string of RNONTOETEEORIODABACHOUGTSTIRRIABLEWUDNTUSA - code, anagram etc? Lips Sealed
« Last Edit: August 11, 2011, 02:17:28 PM by martin » Logged

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