Universe Puzzle

I’m trying something new, here in Universe Today, a puzzle.

This is, I hope, a puzzle that cannot be answered by five minutes spent googling, a puzzle that requires you to cudgel your brains a bit, and do some lateral thinking.

There are no prizes for the first correct answer – the judge’s decision (mine!) will be final – but I do hope that you’ll have lots of fun.

What do David, Nicholas, and Ferdinand have in common?

Post your guesses in the comments section, and check back later at this same post to find the answer. To make this puzzle fun for everyone, please don’t include links or extensive explanations with your answer, until after the answer has been given. Good luck!

Answer has now been posted below:


Malin1 (Hubble Space Telescope image courtesy of Aaron Barth)

Mayall's Object (Hubble Space Telescope)

David Malin (Malin I), Nicholas Mayall (Mayall’s object, or Arp 148), and Ferdinand Magellan (the Magellanic Clouds) all have galaxies named after them!

I should have said that David, Nicholas, and Ferdinand have a deep association with the topics we regularly cover here in Universe Today – astronomy, space, telescopes, etc.

Congratulations to IVAN3MAN, who guessed correctly first, and to all those who came up with equally good answers – all must have prizes.

Stay tuned for another Universe Puzzle, next week (HINT: I will pose a quite different kind of puzzle then).

19 Replies to “Universe Puzzle”

  1. They are all male. And, since that is one thing they most certainly do have in common, I win.

    What’s the prize? Thank you.


  2. I would say David McComas, Nicolaus Copernicas, and Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan changed our view of the shape of Earth, Copernicas changed our view of the shape of the solar system, and McComas changed our view of shape of our local galaxy.

    I’ve noted, however, that the spelling above is Nicolas, and so this may not be a good guess.

  3. Three Croatian Scientists:
    Ferdinand Kovacevic (1838-1913);
    David Schwarz (1852-1897);
    Nikola Tesla (1856-1943).
    Source: History of Croatian Science by Darko Zubrinic, Zagreb (1995)

  4. Good idea, but I saw the related arXiv article of the 17th February too. I.e. Yu. L. Bolotin. et.al. “Dynamics of Universe in Problems”

    My favourite is Chapter 1 ; Cosmo-wrap-up No. 49. Find probability that transition between two atomic states occurs due to gravitation rather than electromagnetic forces.

    Love to see our ol’ mate, Anaconda, reply to that one!

  5. They are all the first name of famous explorers/mapmakers. Nicolas Copernicus, Ferdinand Magellan and David Thompson – All of these men are renowned for their explorations of undiscovered parts of Earth and creating maps of the new territory…

  6. All kings:

    King David, Israel
    Czar Nicholas, Russia,
    King Ferdinand, Castile Spain

    Nicholas could be king Nicholas of Montenegro, but Czar Nic is as notorious as the other two.

  7. I don’t know, but looking around a bit I found this asteroid called (9007) James Bond.
    Hilariously off-topic.

  8. Jean:

    A great idea! it seems some couldn’t resist the temptation of going the Google route. My congratulations to those of you who used your noodles instead, right or wrong….(Astrofiend, neoguru)

  9. StefanoDeRosa,

    There have certainly been astronauts, whether on Space Shuttle missions or otherwise, named David (six?). There is also, I think, one Nicholas.

    However, I do not know of any astronaut (or cosmonaut!) named Ferdinand.

    Who did you have in mind?

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