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You’ve Been Marooned By Kidnappers. Can You Escape At Dawn?


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You’re super rich, and you often joke with your cadre of intelligent friends and family about getting kidnapped. You all agree that if you were ever kidnapped, the evildoers would knock you out so stealthily that you’d never feel the blow. Then, one snowy night, you step out of a restaurant and, just as predicted, never feel the blow.

When you stir back into consciousness, it’s night, but it’s not snowy. You find yourself sitting on a beach. The sky is clear, with no moon. In front of you stands a shadowy figure whose face you can’t make out. He throws a blocky rectangular object at your feet. “That’s a satellite phone,” the figure growls. “It’s got one minute of battery left in it. Use that to call your people to let ’em know you’re not dead — but not until daylight.” He tosses a paper bag next to the sat phone. “That’s some sandwiches and water, enough for a few days. That’s salt,” he explains, waving toward the surf. “If your people pay our ransom,” he continues, “We’ll come get you. Otherwise, there won’t be any more paper bags. Remember, wait until daylight to make that call.”

He then turns and climbs into a dinghy in the light surf, starts its outboard motor and zooms away. All this time you’ve been too groggy to do anything but listen. Now you watch as the dinghy disappears into the gloom, its wake a faint wash of phosphorescence that quickly fades. Later, there’s a bare wink of lights at the horizon, presumably the mothership getting underway and leaving.

Even though it’s a moonless night, there’s sufficient starlight to assess your surroundings. Your grogginess is gone and you walk about. You’re on a tiny island, which you estimate is a bit more than a mile by half a mile. There are no trees; it’s all flat sand. You taste the water rolled up by the surf, and it is indeed salt. The air is cool, but not cold. Your wallet, expensive chronometer, keys, cell phone, jewelry and small change are all gone; all you have are the clothes on your back — even your shoes and socks have been taken. The bag contains four sandwiches, all liverwurst with peanut butter on cheap rye bread, and four one-pint bottles of water. No napkins. Your knowledge of astronomy is too weak to try to estimate your location by the stars, but you’re not stupid. Before daybreak, you’ve worked out exactly how you’ll use that minute of time on the satellite phone so that your people, who are also not stupid, will be able to dispatch rescue.

What will you say?

Credit: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/youve-been-marooned-by-kidnappers-can-you-escape-at-dawn/

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2 hours ago, Juxtatarot said:

satellite phone so that your people, who are also not stupid, will be able to dispatch rescue.

What will you say?

My guess. EDitted to spoiler. Sorry.

Use the satellites to track me down.

Come get me.

Bring some good food and water.

Watch out for kidnappers watching - they may be armed.

Come armed. But, try to sneak.

So - how are you?

Edited by Man of Constant Sorrow
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I imagine the keys are Daybreak, moonless, and relative temperature - i.e. not snowy.

And - of course, the sat phone:

 

Finally, satellite phones can be tracked through their own built-in GPS devices or weak encryption protocols. "It is very likely that the GPS location data is transmitted by the sat phone in the clear," reports Safer Mobile. "Additionally and important as a side note -- aside from revealing your location with a sat phone -- the encryption used by commercial satellite telephone systems has been recently cracked."

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22 minutes ago, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

An attempt at distraction with useless details, imo.

Like they are trying to overload with info to hide the solution.

I was going to ask what kind of sandwiches until they mentioned it at the end.    I'm not thrilled with the choice.   Maybe put the liverwurst on one slice and try to get as much of the pb as you can on the other.

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5 minutes ago, Sinn Fein said:

I imagine the keys are Daybreak, moonless, and relative temperature - i.e. not snowy.

And - of course, the sat phone:

 

Finally, satellite phones can be tracked through their own built-in GPS devices or weak encryption protocols. "It is very likely that the GPS location data is transmitted by the sat phone in the clear," reports Safer Mobile. "Additionally and important as a side note -- aside from revealing your location with a sat phone -- the encryption used by commercial satellite telephone systems has been recently cracked."

Who you going to call with just a minute of battery life that's going to have the capability to track your phone

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Just now, NutterButter said:

I was going to ask what kind of sandwiches until they mentioned it at the end.    I'm not thrilled with the choice.   Maybe put the liverwurst on one slice and try to get as much of the pb as you can on the other.

yeah - I like it. 

that way, you could eat the pb first and hope that you are rescued before you have to eat the liverwurst.

If it works out - you never have to eat the liverwurst.

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Just now, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

yeah - I like it. 

that way, you could eat the pb first and hope that you are rescued before you have to eat the liverwurst.

If it works out - you never have to eat the liverwurst.

probably my choice as well.   the liverwurst could really use some spicy brown.   

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42 minutes ago, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

My guess. EDitted to spoiler. Sorry.

 

  Hide contents

Use the satellites to track me down.

Come get me.

Bring some good food and water.

Watch out for kidnappers watching - they may be armed.

Come armed. But, try to sneak.

So - how are you?

 

Last part needs to come first, IMO.

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2 hours ago, Juxtatarot said:

...The bag contains four sandwiches, all liverwurst with peanut butter on cheap rye bread, and four one-pint bottles of water. No napkins. Your knowledge of astronomy is too weak to try to estimate your location by the stars, but you’re not stupid. Before daybreak, you’ve worked out exactly how you’ll use that minute of time on the satellite phone so that your people, who are also not stupid, will be able to dispatch rescue.

What will you say?

Credit: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/youve-been-marooned-by-kidnappers-can-you-escape-at-dawn/

 

17 minutes ago, NutterButter said:

Who you going to call with just a minute of battery life that's going to have the capability to track your phone

Good catch.

OK. Can anyone think of a way to use a:

  1. paper bag,
  2. peanut butter,
  3. liverwurst,
  4. rye bread,
  5. sand,
  6. 4 pints of fresh water,
  7. unlimited salt water,
  8. ? EDIT: Daybreak = solar power source added to reagents? I dunno.

... to extend the actual battery or act as a battery itself?

If we can stay on the line longer, then we may give our rescuers time to trace the satellites better.

Edited by Man of Constant Sorrow
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1st call - at daybreak - to your super smart friend:

"Hello, this is sinn fein, I've been kidnapped and am on an island - its now sunrise.  I'll call again at noon and sunset."

 

2nd call at noon:  "Its now noon."

 

3rd call at sunset:  "its now sunset."

 

Noon call may be superfluous - but sunrise gives you latitude, length of day should give you longitude. 

 

ETA - it presumably gives you two longitudes, on either side of the equator, but now you should be able to get search and rescue to both locations.

Edited by Sinn Fein
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Doesn't the receiver already likely have enough info at break of dawn when combined with the estimated size of the island? The person answering the call notes the time, finds the latitude line which the sun is rising on that day at that time and looks on Google Earth for a sand only, treeless, mile long ocean island on that line. Good chance it would really pinpoint the search area.

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There is a possibility the restaurant was in the southern hemisphere.  Remember you're rich and could have been traveling in the southern hemisphere where it was snowing.

You could quickly tell your contact on the phone to Google "where is liverwurst and peanut butter popular."  When I did that the first result mentions France. Maybe French Canadians like that also?  I didn't know if the size of the water bottles being in pints instead of liters was a clue or also maybe the cheap rye bread.

Not sure where to go from there.

Edited by WDIK2
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You're on an uninhabited island in the English Channel.  It's a clear night with no moon.  The lights you thought were the "mothership" are either the coast of England or France.  Maybe someone can narrow it down from there.

ETA:  I'm basing most of this on my liverwurst and peanut butter theory.

Edited by WDIK2
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11 minutes ago, Ignoramus said:

First off, how are you?

Not bad. Not bad at all. Thanks for asking.

😎

And you? Are things pleasing in your world?

 

 

There a lots of great ideas popping up. I wonder if there is more than one possible solution? 

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2 hours ago, AAABatteries said:

First, I rub one out - beaches make me horny.  Then, I take the liverwurst off the sandwich and eat the peanut butter sandwiches.  Then I take the phone and prank call Gator - LIVERPOOL SUCKS!  That’s all I got so far.

This sounds reasonable except for the order. Pretty sure you'd call Gator first.

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Your knowledge of astronomy is too weak to try to estimate your location by the stars, but you’re not stupid.

 

So does this mean you can at least identify the North Star or Southern Cross and know what hemisphere you're in?

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1 hour ago, JaxBill said:

How do you know it's noon? Sun dial based off sunrise? Not sure how accurate that would be, especially in a daylight savings time situation. 

Wat?  How did a deserted island get daylight savings?

 

but, I think the real value is sun up to sun down - to measure the length of day - which I think would give you distance from the equator. 

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12 hours ago, Sinn Fein said:

1st call - at daybreak - to your super smart friend:

"Hello, this is sinn fein, I've been kidnapped and am on an island - its now sunrise.  I'll call again at noon and sunset."

 

2nd call at noon:  "Its now noon."

 

3rd call at sunset:  "its now sunset."

 

Noon call may be superfluous - but sunrise gives you latitude, length of day should give you longitude. 

 

ETA - it presumably gives you two longitudes, on either side of the equator, but now you should be able to get search and rescue to both locations.

I like this answer.  It's not going to be exact latitude/longitude, but the principle is correct.  Exact moment of sunrise and sunset should allow you to pinpoint the exact location.

ETA: sometimes I use this link to set my watch to: https://www.time.gov/

At the current time, you can see exactly where sunrise and sunset are happening.  I'm sure there is an app or data somewhere where this could be worked backwards from.

Sunset data probably isn't necessary - just follow along that curve until you find an island matching the description.

Edited by moleculo
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36 minutes ago, Sinn Fein said:

Wat?  How did a deserted island get daylight savings?

 

but, I think the real value is sun up to sun down - to measure the length of day - which I think would give you distance from the equator. 

I like the thinking, but technically, you are still using the stars, just the one closest to us.  But on the other hand, by calling someone else, I suppose it is not you, but someone else would have the info to do it.

 

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2 hours ago, JaxBill said:

Your knowledge of astronomy is too weak to try to estimate your location by the stars, but you’re not stupid.

 

So does this mean you can at least identify the North Star or Southern Cross and know what hemisphere you're in?

Yes, I think it would mean you can identify some major constellations to determine hemisphere.  Does that help narrow it down much if you don't know the time?  

Edited by WDIK2
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