Sunday 30 July 2023

A Puzzle For A Scrub Nurse?

Shuttle Run
Another 6 day week has meant that I have not managed to solve anything for you. In the few hours I did manage to find, I think I...erm...bit off more than I could chew! The Shuttle Run puzzle is yet another of the incredible designs by the amazing Chinese designer, Shuai Chi. It was one of the designs recently offered up for sale by Aaron Wang from his Facebook page. The puzzles that he puts up for sale are always incredibly complex and ALWAYS very difficult. Most are Level 10 or 10+ and the ones that he does occasionally label as lower than that are, I reckon, actually level 10 for us normal people.

The workmanship in these puzzles is superb and they are priced accordingly. Everyone thinks that wire puzzles are extremely cheap but this one was $47. I must add that it is worth every penny/cent.
I could not buy every single one that went up for sale for fear of spending several hundred dollars and receiving a Whack! Ouch! from Mrs S who has returned from Edinburgh and is unimpressed with the proliferation that has occurred whilst she was away. I bought the few that I felt I might (possibly if the wind is going the right way) stand a chance of successfully solving. I still have a whole lot of his previous puzzles unsolved and persistently beating me.

Recent disentanglement puzzles
The sheer length of string is very intimidating!
You may be wondering why I have called the Shuttle Run a puzzle for a scrub nurse? The operating theatre staff out there who are stupid enough to read my drivel (I know there are a few surgeons and anaesthetists and who knows, maybe even the odd theatre nurse) will all be aware of the vital role that counting plays during any operation. At the beginning and end of every single operation there is an exhaustive count of every instrument, swab, neuro pattie and suture to ensure that nothing that shouldn't be is left in the patient. It is an odd fact that scrub nurses can only count to 5! Any higher number than that and they count to 5 again. The very senior nurses (i.e. old) might manage to count to 10 but never higher than that. If a nurse has counted above 10 then she has taken her shoes and socks off! I often work in a vascular theatre and and counting the patient's digits is no use as the leg count is often less than 2 and the toe count almost inevitably less than 10!

The Shuttle Run puzzle seems to require counting to 5 and no higher! Perfect for a scrub nurse. The only downside is that this puzzle needs you to count to 5 in odd creative ways:

1, 1 2, 2, 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 3, 3, 3 4, 1 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 2 3 4, 2 4, 1 2 4, 1 4, 4, 4 5 etc...

Being a bear of little brain, I could not do this sequence in my head! I had to speak it out loud and this REALLY did nothing to improve Mrs S' mood. She has a cold just now and is not really enjoying my monotonic counting in funny ways. Periodically she interjects random sequences of numbers which has on several occasions forced me to stop puzzling and may have contributed to me backtracking inadvertently back to the beginning.

Is this progress? I hope so, but am not entirely certain!
That sequence is just what is required for the top section of the puzzle - that is obviously a binary sequence. Unfortunately, the sequence has to pass back and forth for each single unit advance of the lower section. I have not yet managed to work it out properly yet due to dementia/confusion, but I think that the bottom section has 2 states to go through for each column supporting the shuttle and thus I am tentatively categorising this one as a ternary puzzle. I may be wrong on this and it may be higher than that because I have managed to get stuck several times and been inadvertently backtracked at least 5 times due to stupidity and interference by Mrs S.

I will persevere for a while and fully expect to fail dismally. However, I am having some fun trying to work it out. 

My plea to Aaron - please please please make a few easier challenges? There are very few people on the planet who can solve your incredibly difficult and beautiful contraptions. Maybe you could make a few level 6-9? This would be helpful to those of us who are less capable than you!

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