Friday, April 17, 2009

Natural Navigator Picture Puzzle

A picture puzzle for you natural navigators out there.

This picture shows spring coming to one of London's parks, but can you work out in which direction was this photo was taken?

Two clues for you:
1) It was taken in the northern hemisphere (doh!)
2) All the trees all the way along the avenue look pretty much the same on either side

Answers please.


Tillerman said...

OK. I know nothing about natural navigation but I'll make a guess. It looks as if the trees are starting to shoot but only on their right sides as we look at them. So I guess that right is south, and so the avenue runs east-west with the photo taken facing east.

Carol Anne said...

I concur with the Tillerman. I might add the refinement that the shot may be pointing a little south of east, as the brightest part of the glow behind the clouds presumably indicates where the sun is.

I'm guessing it's probably about 8 a.m., although that's hard to pin down without a clearer idea of exactly where the sun is. I'm not used to dealing with clouds.

JP said...

Your on the right track but maybe a little picture would help :)

Carol Anne: we in London know quite a bit about clouds! I selected a picture with lots of clouds so the sun direction wouldn't be a clue

O Docker said...

I must say, JP, I would have answered just as Tillerman and Carol Anne, but your second clue seems to indicate they're off course.

And, now, I'm almost certain they are. But, I'm no natural navigator, either, and took the opposite approach. I tried to see if I could find the answer on the internet, and did in about 10 minutes. I found not only which direction the photographer was facing, to within about 10 degrees, but the exact spot the photo was taken, the name of the park, and of the bridge in the distance. Here's a similar photo taken slightly later in the year.

It's not that I'm a genius, of course, only that the internet and our electronic toys have become so powerful that it's making us all pretty lazy and less observant of the natural world around us - which I guess was the point of this exercise in natural navigation. Looking forward to your answer.

Carol Anne said...

Oh, dear. I'm reminded of a course I took in computer programming during my first attempt at college. It was a cryptography problem, with two stages: The first was to find the number of ciphers used -- was the same code used every fifth letter, every seventh, or what? The second part was to find the cipher for each period.

After a few weeks of the class being frustrated with the problem, the prof gave us the number of ciphers. I took that as an answer in an answer key, much in the vein of the answer key in a math textbook -- if my program came up with that number, I would know my program was right.

It turns out that was not what the prof meant -- he wanted the students to just skip the step of finding out how many ciphers and just plug that number in. He never said that was what he wanted us to do. I felt that plugging the number in without figuring it out first would be cheating.

I got an F on the assignment and failed the course. When I left messages for the prof asking why, he responded with a scathing memo something to the effect of, "If you cared enough about the class to attend [I had perfect attendance, but apparently he never bothered to look that up], you would know the period of the cipher, as I gave that information on multiple occasions. Since you didn't put the number in, your program didn't solve the cipher, and so you didn't pass the class."

I suppose that prof would be pleased with O Docker's solution.

The Natural Navigator said...

JP, sorry to have been so slow to have joined the fun...

There is appears to be one big clue, three subtler ones and then the one that is often my favourite... the lateral one.

The big: earlier growth on one side of the avenue.

The subtler no.1: the branches are very slightly more horizontal on one side of the trees than the other.

The subtler no.2: the path on the left is wetter on one side than the other.

The subtler no.3: the sky appears a touch brighter on one side than the other.

The lateral: the river appears in the picture and you live south of the river, methinks.

If I am getting warm then we are looking in the direction of the sun from a first quarter moon?

Put us out of our misery, quizmaster!

tillerman said...

OK. Do I get a mulligan? Thanks for all the clues.

1. I guessed that the water might be the Thames but chose to ignore that fact, knowing that the Thames around London does loop around a lot so without knowing more about the exact location didn't want to assume that the river runs east-west here.

2. I think I misinterpreted that good captain's clue that "all the trees all the way along the avenue look pretty much the same on either side." I thought he meant that the trees on both sides of the avenue look the same; but perhaps he was referring to both sides any given tree?

3. So if the tree on the left are shooting on both sides and the ones on the right aren't yet, then perhaps it's because the row on the left is shading the row on the right from the sun. Which means south is left and we are facing west. Exactly the opposite of what I first said. Duh.

4. Thanks to Natural Navigator for the other clues. Or is he just trying to mislead us. First quarter moon???? But I did notice the difference in the angle of the branches of the trees on both side but wasn't sure how to interpret that.

tillerman said...

Oops. I now see that JP posted the answer before I wrote my last comment but I didn't read the answer first, honest.

Great puzzle JP. I'll be on the lookout for some natural navigation pictures myself now.

JP said...

From point 3 looks like you got it spot on and just before I posted the answer.

Gold star for the Tillerman :)