Clusters (MIT Mystery Hunt 2021)

MIT Mystery Hunt 2021
A bust of Athena/Minerva, the symbol of the Clusters round.
Author(s)Charles Tam and Robert Tunney
AnswerClick to revealMETALINGUIST

Clusters (AKA the Minerva Clusters) was the metapuzzle of the Clusters round of the 2021 MIT Mystery Hunt. Like some other metapuzzles from this parallel-universe-themed hunt, it leaned heavily on the differences between the presented area and the equivalent from the real world to structure itself.

Answer List[edit | edit source]

Solve Path[edit | edit source]

Initially, what solvers have to work with are the answers from the rest of the round (plus the building number they were found in) and the provided flavortext from the puzzle, which reads

Students at ⊥IW can't decide whether to call their computer labs Athena Clusters or Minerva Clusters. Who can help resolve this debate?

The flavortext itself references both the Athena Clusters (the name given to the computer clusters at MIT) and the "Minerva Clusters" which (according to some NPCs in the Projection Device) is the ⊥IW equivalent.


This change is a reference to Athena and Minerva being Greek/Roman equivalents of the same deity, and a clue pointing solvers towards doing similar Greek/Roman(Latin) conversions. Those with keen knowledge of linguistics may also notice that all of the feeder answers for this round are either entirely of Greek origin or entirely of Latin origin. Even if they don't know this from the start, this fact should come up when solvers start looking into the words themselves for some kind of connection, especially when indexing by the only numbers they have (the building numbers) doesn't result in anything substantial.

In particular, each answer is made up of two Latin roots or two Greek roots. This means that each word should have an "equivalent" word using the same roots in the other language.

  • PHOSPHORUS (Greek) --> PHOS (light) + PHEREIN (carry) --> LUX (light) + FERRE (carry) --> LUCIFER (Latin)
  • CARNIVORE (Latin) --> CARNIS (meat) + VORARE (eat) --> SARX (meat) + PHAGEIN (eat) --> SARCOPHAGUS (Greek)
  • AVERSION (Latin) --> A (away) + VERTERE (turn) --> APO (away) + STREPHEIN (turn) --> APOSTROPHE (Greek)
  • MULTIPART (Latin) --> MULTUS (many) + PARS (part) --> POLYS (many) + MEROS (part) --> POLYMER (Greek)
  • MALFORMATION (Latin) --> MALUS (bad) + FORMA (shape) --> DYS (bad) + MORPHE (shape) --> DYSMORPHIA (Greek)
  • PALINDROME (Greek) --> PALIN (backward) + DROMEIN (run) --> RE (backward) + CURRERE (run) --> RECURRENCE (Latin)
  • INSCRIPTION (Latin) --> IN (upon) + SCRIBERE (write) --> EPI (upon) + GRAPHEIN (write) --> EPIGRAPH (Greek)
  • SUPPOSITORY (Latin) --> SUB (under) + PONERE (put) --> HYPO (under) + TITHENAI (put) --> HYPOTHESIS (Greek)
  • ORTHOGONAL (Greek) --> ORTHOS (straight) + GONIA (angle) --> RECTUS (straight) + ANGULUS (angle) --> RECTANGULAR (Latin)
  • CHIROPRACTOR (Greek) --> CHEIRON (hand) + PRATTEIN (do) --> MANUS (handt) + FACERE (do) --> MANUFACTURER (Latin)
  • SYNCHRONOUS (Greek) --> SYN (with) + CHRONOS (time) --> CUM (with) + TEMPUS (time) --> CONTEMPORARY (Latin)

With new answers to work with, solvers can separate them into two groups based on the origin of the words (Greek vs. Latin). Indexing into these words by the building numbers now results in letters that are workable. In particular, the answers that were originally Greek give letters that can be anagrammed into ULTRA, while those that were originally Latin give letters that can be anagrammed into GLOSSA.

While the ordering step can theoretically be skipped by strong linguistic knowledge and lucky anagram results, there is a proper way to order the extracted letters. The puzzle titles for this round all start with letters from A-G, with the Latin ones starting A-F and the Greek ones starting A, B, D, E, and G. GLOSSA can be achieved by ordering the puzzles alphabetically. Similarly, the Greek ones can be ordered alphabetically (using the Greek alphabet so that G (Gamma) comes between B (Beta) and D (Delta)) to get ULTRA.

The last step to take is to realize that ULTRA is a Latin root word for "beyond" and GLOSSA is a Greek root word for "tongue". All solvers have to do then is repeat the conversion process once more.


ULTRAGLOT (Latin/Greek) --> ULTRA (beyond) + GLOSSA (tongue) --> META (beyond) + LINGUA (tongue) --> METALINGUIST

Puzzle Elements[edit | edit source]

  • Metapuzzle (Click to revealPseudopure) - While the puzzle page for this meta doesn't provide any kind of shell for use in solving it, Click to revealit does require information outside of just the puzzle answers. In particular, it uses both the building numbers of the puzzles (provided on the round page) and the titles of the puzzles themselves.
  • Hint in Flavortext - The flavortext mentions both Athena and Minerva, which are Greek and Roman names for (approximately) the same deity, hinting at the importance of both cultures and the exchange between them.
  • Linguistics (Etymology) - Root words (Greek and Latin). This is the basis for the entire metapuzzle, even.
  • Equivalent Exchange - Mentioned both in the flavortext (see Hint in Flavortext) and used as an active mechanic, with the conversion of Greek and Latin root words to their equivalent in the other language.
  • Indexing - While the puzzle page doesn't provide numbers for indexing, the round page does (in the form of building numbers). However, solvers can also find these out by mapping puzzles to locations within the
  • Reordering (Alphabetical) - With a twist! While the answers that were translated from Latin can be ordered alphabetically by puzzle title, the ones that started in Greek can also be ordered alphabetically, but only using the Greek alphabet.
  • Mechanic Repetition - Once the initial extraction has been completed (resulting in ULTRA and GLOSSA), a linguistic conversion has to be done again on them, resulting in two new root words that can be combined into the final answer.
  • Asked and Answered - The answer responds to the following question from the flavortext, regarding naming the clusters "Athena" or "Minerva":
Who can help resolve this debate?

Accolades[edit | edit source]

Award Date of Ceremony Category Result
Bravo Awards January 13, 2022 Most Elegant Puzzle Nominated