When Thomas Gazzola, professor of mathematics at Washington State University Vancouver, goes for a run, he’s not listening to music or stopping to check his pulse. Instead, he’s making up puzzles.

“It’s a passion,” Gazzola says. “I’m always looking for things and thinking, ‘Hey that could be used for a puzzle’…I love to get an idea and watch it grow.”

Gazzola is a recent champion of the world-renowned MIT Mystery Hunt. This multiday event takes place every January. It gathers students, teachers, computer scientists, and puzzle aficionados together to complete a series of challenges, including crosswords, anagrams, physical challenges, and scavenger hunts.

This year, Gazzola and 40 teammates (whose group name was “Luck, I am Your Father”) completed 180 puzzles in the span of 41 hours to win the tournament. The puzzles were mentally and physically challenging and Gazzola only got about six hours of sleep. “For puzzles,” he says, “I can go all night.”  

Today on the show, we’ll talk to Gazzola about the puzzling world of…well…puzzles.  

Can you solve this Gazzola-original puzzle? He calls it “That Reminds Me…”

Each headline below reminded Gazzola of a book.

1.       Official Hawaiian Planners Accost Hitchhikers.  

(This article is about government agents in Honolulu who are taking on the problem of people thumbing for rides in the capital)

2.      Crowd @ Aswan Drove Clark Loony 

(This article is about an Egyptian gathering that left one participant insane)

 What books do the headlines bring to mind? 

On Monday (2/23) we’ll announce the first person who sent us the correct answers via Twitter @opbtol.