UPDATE: I have just found out that this puzzle was created by the wonderful Lloyd King – see more about his work here.

What five letter chemical element is represented by this list…

SILICON
HELIUM
NEON
HYDOGEN
LEAD
OXYGEN

As ever, please do NOT post your answers, but feel free to say if you solved it and how long it took.  Answer on Monday.

57 comments

  1. Closer to 10 minutes. Was on right track early, tried a number of other variants before using the most obvious clue and going back from that using another observation. Really nice one!

  2. Not sure how long that took, as I slipped into the Puzzle Zone where time loses all meaning. But it was long enough to make me slightly late for work. Nice puzzle.

  3. Mega facepalm after getting it suddenly while my daughter was bombarding me with vector questions (maths homework). Sometimes multi-tasking helps us see the obvious.

  4. Dammit. Thought I had it, but the English name of the element has more than five letters. Back to the drawing board.

    1. You have to be thinking in English. If you aren’t fluent/thinking in English, you haven’t a chance.

    2. I’d consider myself pretty fluent, being a translator of English (to Dutch). I’m just not aware of all the names of the not-so-common elements in English.
      But your reply suggests this is a language problem, rather than a maths one as I assumed. Hm… *rethinks*

    3. Berber Anna: I’m Dutch as well, but apparently my English is good enough so I found the solution after a few minutes of puzzling 🙂

    4. Your English is probably too good, Berber. Imagine you’re an average native speaker – that should help…

  5. Groan. Once I got it. Which was ages, BTW.

    I spent a long time looking at the three possible 5-letter elements trying to make them fit. Eventually I realised that there were actually four. And, sure enough, the one I’d missed was the correct one. And it was immediately obvious once I saw it. Doh!

  6. d’oh at last (c. 15 minutes altogether)! I did have to look up the 5-letter elements on Wikipedia. Tom F’s clue helped, but it still took me forever to look in the right place.

  7. A few minutes of trying ever more complicated ways of converting the list to an element, then a ‘Doh!’ moment as I realised that the thing I’d noticed immediately was the answer.

  8. After 10 minutes of drawing lines at the periodic table, thinking about atomic numbers and symbols I got the answer and cursed myself for missing the obvious.

    1. I did the same thing but for probably half an hour.. Probably because the question is totally misleading.

  9. Got it, but thanks to one of the comments. Principle was obvious though. But good – and did waste some time on adding up.

  10. Several hours. (Been to Womad and back in between reading the puzzle and finding the solution.) Looked for geometric, arithmetic, alphabetical and other patterns of all kinds. Eventually stumbled upon the correct answer, but didn’t recognise it as the answer because of a copying error I made. Gave up, read comments, realised I’d already solved it without knowing it.

  11. Oh my Giddy aunt! slaps hand into forehead – hard. I’ve been back and forth with this all day (overall prob spent about 40 mins) and sussed it wasn’t going to be a scientific answer but just couldn’t see it. Then the clouds drifted from my eyes and ouch! my forehead is smarting.

  12. Have looked at this for the last 20 minutes and written down all sorts of different ideas- still none the wiser and after reading the comments just know I am going to kick myself on Monday, if I don’t get the answer before then,which at this point is looking unlikely.
    Must go as no more time now, so feeling frustrated GGRRR!

  13. Groan…

    Gotta say, better than average one this time though. Took me about 2 or 3 minutes before the inevitable facepalm.

  14. I have an answer, judging by the groans I think I’ve got the same thing as most people. Took about 7 mins and reading some of the comments before I started thinking along the right lines.

  15. Took a few minutes trying odd ideas, then decided to be systematic and then the answer quickly hit me.

    This is a clever one.

  16. i searched for the list of elements in google to see if i could see a connection from the results…Google then proceded to slap me in the forehead in a way i didn’t expect

  17. Well I can’t figure this one out at all. When people talk about elements, do they mean the Latin names or the English names? From what I can see, there are 5 elements with 5 letters.

    Xenon
    Argon
    Radon
    Boron
    Aurum

    I am completely lost. Maybe it’s because I’m not a native English speaker. Could anybody please send the solution to the attached email, as I’m dying to hear it.

  18. BIG OUCH. That hurts. I saw it and yet I didn’t see it. So I wandered off round the houses for about half an hour. Finally it came at me out the mists.

    A Zen master would approve.

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