Congratulations, Brandon, for being the first person to solve all 8 levels!
This contest is now over but you can still attempt to solve the puzzles for the next week. In a week the puzzle pages will be removed from MDA. I will remove the passwords from each puzzle page now so you can jump from one puzzle to the next at your will. Thanks to everyone for participating. Read on for answers to some of the more troubling puzzles.
Level 5 Conundrum:
You had to think outside the box for this one. It required that you look around MDA for clues. At the bottom right hand corner of each page on MDA there is a section that reads “Or maybe you’d like to browse posts about:” Below that is a pull-down text box. In that box there is a list of all MDA categories along with the number of posts in each category. The string of characters given on Level 5 are associated with a string of categories that contain that number of posts. The next one in the list is the category “PLAY” and is the solution to Level 5.
Level 6 Confusion:
You may notice that Level 6 did not have a link to “Proceed to Level 7”. The URL for Level 6 had the word “answer” in it. To move on to Level 7 you had to substitute the answer to the Level 6 puzzle for the word “answer” in the URL. The answer also acted as the password to Level 7.
Level 7 Explained:
It’s all about finding the pattern in a bunch of noise. One and only one letter is found in each row – the letter “R”. The letter “R” isn’t significant in itself, but its placement in the grid is. The first “R” is in column 8. As is the second and third. Continue in this manner and you will have a string of numeric digits: 8887746259. Does this number mean anything to you? “888” numbers are toll free numbers. 888-774-6259 is the toll free number to my office. Call the number and you’re given the password to Level 8. Only 2 people solved this Level and made the connection, and only after Hint 4 was dropped.
Since the launch of this contest yesterday I’ve received numerous reports of tears shed and teeth gnashed. The consensus seems to be that Levels 1-3 were a little challenging, but mostly fun. That Levels 4-6 were difficult, but doable. And that Level 7… well, Level 7 has proved infinitely frustrating and impossible to crack. (Hence the weeping and grinding.) A small group of front-runners went so far as to create a chat room last night to share their observations. Not a single person has broken the code, so I’ve added two hints to Level 7 and will add a new hint every hour on the half until someone has either won this contest (solved Level 8) or I’ve all but explained how to solve it. Thanks for playing, everyone!
This one is just too cool. A fitting prize for today’s brain challenge, it’s called an Isis Puzzle . ThinkGeek , the folks behind the miracle fruit  and homo sapiens kitchen tool  prizes of yore are now offering up this beautiful, elegant, difficult, titanium, hand-made puzzle sphere to the winner of today’s contest. As a decorative piece, it can smarten up even the pulpiest of bookshelves. As a brain teaser, it will dazzle the minds of everyone in your Sunday afternoon Mensa papercraft parties. But this little ball is also a gateway to adventures most grand. Solving the Isis unlocks a code which leads to more puzzles, keys, and eventually real world treasure. A puzzler’s Everest. Learn a little bit more at Isis Adventures .
Time to Use Your Brain. I’ve devised a series of riddles and puzzles to be solved for today’s contest. The first riddle is below. Generally puzzles become more difficult as you move from one level to the next. The first person to correctly answer the FINAL riddle (Level Eight) in the comments section of this post will win the Isis puzzle. There will be no random drawing, no judging. This one is a test of skill and speed. The first one to finish wins. Answers to the puzzles act as passwords for subsequent puzzles. For example, the answer to the following riddle is the password for the Level 2 puzzle, the answer to the Level 2 puzzle is the password for the Level 3 puzzle, and so on. When entering a password, use all caps and no punctuation or spaces (i.e. if the answer is “Mark Sisson,” enter MARKSISSON into the password field). Anyone leaving an answer to a riddle other than the final riddle in the comments section will be disqualified (the final riddle will be obvious if you reach it). Please refrain from leaving hints in the comments section as well. Last, remember to think outside the box.
What can run but never walk
Has a mouth but can never talk
What has a head but never weeps
And has a bed but never sleeps