Physics Test - Solution

Written by Justin Yokota and Jacqui Fashimpaur


This puzzle presents some flavortext, plus a pdf. The flavortext has several indicators: "Professor Hop" and "Physics". Opening the pdf reveals a sequence of images which can be interpreted as physics diagrams. Values are provided for several components of each diagram, with some components replaced with a question mark. However, the units are not standard units, but small pictographic representations with SI Prefixes. Googling Professor Hop gives a reference to Pokémon. This suggests that each pictograph is associated with a Pokémon. The first step of the puzzle is to identify the Pokémon.

Googling the Pokémon reveals that each Pokémon can be associated with a unit of some kind (generally through their Pokedex entries/stats, though some require further computation); furthermore, these units match exactly with how they are used in the physics questions. We can thus determine the value of each Pokéunit. Note: While the English Pokédex entries use Imperial units, the original values are in metric. We thus use the metric values.

Alolan Exeggcutor Length10.9 metersAlolan Exeggcutor is 10.9 meters tall.
Snorlax Mass460 kilogramsSnorlax masses 460 kilograms.
Heracross Force52955.91 NewtonsA Heracross can lift 100 times its own weight. We have its mass and the gravity of Earth to determine its carrying capacity in Newtons.
Machamp Frequency500 HertzMachamp can throw 1000 punches in 2 seconds. This equals 500 punches per second, or 500 Hertz.
Magneton Energy10.263 TerajoulesMagneton can heat the air in a 1000 meter radius around it by 2 degrees C. We use the specific heat capacity of air under standard temperature and pressure (as noted in the first page), and determine the volume of air heated by Magneton.
Spheal Volume0.26808 cubic metersSpheal is a sphere of diameter 0.8 meters. We can thus compute its volume.
Spiritomb Amount108Spiritomb contains 108 spirits
Whismur Pressure2 PascalsWhismur can yell at 100 decibels. The pressure of sound at 100 decibels is 2 Pascals.
Regice Temperature73.15 KelvinThe temperature around Regice is -200 degrees C. This is 73.15 Kelvin.
Jirachi Time31.53 GigasecondsJirachi sleeps for 1000 years at a time. This is 31.53 Gigaseconds.
Dragonite Velocity695.747 meters/secondDragonite can fly around the world in 16 hours. We use the equatorial circumference of the Earth to determine its velocity.

At this point, we can solve for the unknown values in the physics test, naturally using our Pokéunits:

Converting to letters (1=A, 2=B, etc.) yields the cluephrase FIVE BILLION IQ. The Pokémon Alakazam is stated in its Pokédex entries as having an IQ of 5000. Treating Alakazam as a unit of intelligence, five billion IQ is thus a MEGAALAKAZAM.

Author's Notes

This puzzle went through quite a few revisions before it got to this current form. This answer was decided on fairly early, and we wanted a nice Pokémon themed puzzle to go along with it. Our first idea involved Pokémon fusions and an identifying “Who’s that Pokemon” game, as per the “Jigglypuff seen from above” meme, plus Pokédex entries highlighting the wrongness of these fusions (similar to the Pokédex entries of Arctovish and its family). We eventually decided against this, as we had difficulties in almost every step of this. At this point, I noticed that “Mega” could be considered an SI prefix, and this reminded me of some other absurdities of Pokédex entries; how certain entries are wildly impossible. Alakazam itself fits this criteria, and the density of Wailord is also a classic meme.

Unfortunately, Wailord didn’t have a canonical density, so we were unable to add it to the puzzle, but we did get at least one crazy unit; the energy of Magneton is about the same as the energy released from 3 kilotons of TNT. On the other hand, Electivire was also considered for a unit of amperage; computing this led to an amperage of just about a bolt of lightning; the Pokédex entry here actually did the math correctly!

The premise of this puzzle can be summed up as “How would a system of measurements be defined in the Pokémon world?” As such, all of the components in this puzzle can be done entirely in Pokéunits, though this requires converting several fundamental constants to Pokéunits.

When researching for this puzzle, I ended up getting nerd-sniped heavily from trying to determine a strong force computation. Indeed, until three days before the hunt, we had a problem involving the strong force. This turned out to be nearly impossible to factcheck, so we unfortunately had to cut the problem. We then replaced it with a precession problem, and subsequently discovered that the equation listed on Wikipedia was completely wrong. Thus, 24 hours before hunt start, we were in the unfortunate position of having to edit both Wikipedia and our problem (we thought Wikipedia was right as well, until someone realized the mistake). Hopefully, no one accidentally reverted that change during the hunt...