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Subject: ‘Puzzle’

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Count Cagliostro’s Search For a Golden Secret

Posted in Mystery, Puzzle, Science on Friday, 18 February 2011

This edited article about Count Cagliostro’s search for a golden secret originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 903 published on 12 May 1979.

Count Alessandro di Cagliostro and his lovely wife Serafina cut a fine dash in 18th century London. They rode in an ornate gilt coach, with expensively liveried servants to wait on them; their gorgeous clothes glittered with diamonds.

When admirers enquired as to the source of his wealth, the count gave an explanation that made their eyes open wide with amazement. He knew how to turn lead into gold, he said, and how to double the size of a diamond. And – he knew the secret of eternal life.

Count Cagliostro. Modesty was not Count Cagliostro's strong point. He claimed to be able to raise people from the dead, restore youth with mud baths and elecric treatments, foretell the future and perform a number of unspecified miracles.

Count Cagliostro. Illustration by Angus McBride

Cagliostro – it was not his real name, and he had no claims to a title – was a charlatan and a confidence trickster. He made money by selling everlasting life potions, and cure-all pills lavishly wrapped in gold foil. He was trading on the beliefs that had inspired alchemists for centuries.

But now alchemy was at a low ebb, debased by tricksters to deceive the gullible. It was not always so.

Alchemy began as a mystical kind of chemistry. The earliest chemists worked and coloured metals and, because gold was so highly prized, they claimed that it was the only pure metal. It followed therefore that if the impurities could be removed from the other metals, they would become gold.

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The first newspaper crossword

Posted in Anniversary, Language, Puzzle on Friday, 10 December 2010

picture, crossword puzzle, cross-word, word-cross

By the 1960s almost every magazine carried a crossword puzzle. The illustration accompanying the article that shares the page is by C. L. Doughty

21 December marks the anniversary of the publication of the first crossword in an English-language  newspaper. The crossword – a grid of squares filled in horizontally and vertically with words obtained from clues – had been around since the 19th century. The Italian magazine Il Secolo Illustrato della Domenica had published a crossword in 1890.

Today’s anniversary, however, celebrates the crossword compiled by an English journalist, Arthur Wynne, for the New York World in 1913. Wynne’s “Word-Cross Puzzle” became a regular feature and soon spread to other newspapers.

Many more pictures relating to puzzles and games can be found at the Look and Learn picture library. Click on the link or picture to find out more about licensing images for commercial and educational use.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Posted in Puzzle on Wednesday, 30 May 2007

What's wrong with this picture? (illustration)

Exercise your brain with this puzzle from 1965, here reproduced from the original artwork.