6.7 Hot Ice

by Joseph Devincentis



This puzzle resembles a game of Bejeweled. As indicated, there are 8 possible moves according to the rules of the game (each move consists of swapping two horizontally or vertically adjacent gems to create a horizontal or vertical row of 3 gems of the same color). The score translates alphanumerically to NFPA and when combined with the 704 moves to advance references NFPA 704, the standard for the symbols, often called "fire diamonds", seen on chemical containers to indicate their fire hazards (and clued by the puzzle title and the flavor text, "He was on fire...they should put him out...they needed to assess the danger".)

If all available moves are played simultaneously, they form 9 rows of red, blue or yellow gems; the same colors as used in the fire diamonds. Identifying the NFPA ratings for each of the chemical components (using Fisher Scientific to disambiguate as suggested by the reference in the game's subtitle) reveals that each row of gems has a common value in the fire diamond component corresponding to that gem's color.

Using these common values to index into the names of the chemical compounds in the 9 rows spells the phrase SMALLPOX VIRUS UNOFFICIAL CODE across the rows. The white area at the bottom of the fire diamond is used to indicate special hazards. Biological hazards like the smallpox virus use the (unofficial) code BIO.