The Power of Ten

Oct 03, 1998

RAY: Ha! We're back. You're listening to Car Talk with us, Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers, and we're here to discuss cars, car repair, and the, the new puzzler. Now, because last week's puzzler was so lengthy, I mean, I'm into balance, you know?

TOM: Yeah. Balance is good.

RAY: Balance is good. So, I thought this week's puzzler should be brief, and I got this from my son, Andrew, who was perusing one of these books at the book store.

TOM: You got this puzzler not the idea that something that's balanced is good?

RAY: No, I don't get any ideas like that from him. I got the puzzler from him.

TOM: Yeah?

RAY: And he was perusing a book while we were at the book store a few weeks ago. One of these books that tells you if you're suitable to become a Mensa member.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And we got this puzzler out of, he got this puzzler out of --

TOM: Are there two questions? Are you really smart? And are you a real jerk? I'd qualify.

RAY: So, yeah!

TOM: I'm batting .500!

RAY: There you go. There was this puzzler, which I thought was good because it was good for the school kids. I mean, this is a school kid puzzler, I think. And if you read, it's interesting. If this puzzler were not in the Mensa book, you'd get it. That's the hint.

TOM: Wow!

RAY: OK, I'm going to give you a series of numbers.

TOM: Yeah, should I write them down?

RAY: Write them down. Get a pencil.

TOM: Get the pencil.

RAY: All right. Two, nine, seven, nine, 12. That series of numbers represents the number seven. Just put somewhere equals seven.

TOM: Equals seven.

RAY: I'm going to give you another group of numbers.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Three, five, zero. That group of numbers equals two.

TOM: Oh.

RAY: OK? How would you write the number 10? That's the question.

Answer: 

TOM: OK, I got it. 3, 9, 12.

RAY: Exactly. But when it was, embedded in that Mensa book, you say gee, what does it represent, what if I add these numbers up, and remember they add up to the 7 cubed.

TOM: And let's see, this could be a base 13 problem.

RAY: Exactly. All we're doing is substituting, each of the numbers, the 2, 9, 7, 9, 12, for the letters of the word seven.

TOM: So 2 equals s, 9 equals e, 7 equals v, and so forth.

RAY: Right, and then 3, 5, 0 is two and thus three, which is T, 9, which is E, and 12, which is N, spells ten.

TOM: And how many other words could you come up with these few numbers.

RAY: Well, a lot that we can't say on National Public Radio, but ton, won, two, two even, Sven. You know what Sven, if you, if you live in Norway, your name is 2, 7, 9, 12.

TOM: Yeah, that's it. Cool. Sven.

RAY: Who's our winner this week?

TOM: Oh, winner. The winner is Frank Freeman from Greensboro, North Carolina.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter