The Let's Play Archive

SpaceChem (2013 Tournament)

by Wild M

Part 40: Closed Tournament - Round 5

Closed Tournament - Round 5

Congratulations to ecco2! You do not have to do anything this week except laugh at the poor fools below.


So I found this one puzzle by Lyosha that was horribly designed. It was basically one where you had no way to separate the two random inputs (differently-bonded carbon groupings) unless you performed some fusion/fission guesswork and then stored the waste every time you guessed wrong. I was pretty annoyed by the fact that there was no good way to run it without a state machine.

However, I came across something one day when reading about chemical chirality. In fact, I believe Carbon dioxide talked about it at one point.

Chemists noticed that tartaric acid derived from organic sources (in this case, wine lees) would polarize light passing through it. A weird thing, though, was that tartaric acid derived through chemical synthesis did not polarize light.

As it turns out, Louis Pasteur caught something that previous chemists had overlooked: the tartaric acid crystals in the synthetic version were shaped slightly differently when viewed through a microscope. Something like this:

It turns out that the synthetic tartaric acid had roughly equal amounts of either crystal, canceling the polarization out. By sorting these crystals manually, he was able to produce a pure sample of levotartaric acid. Boy, that must have been a pain.

Anyway, I realized something incredible: what if Lyosha was a modern day Pasteur? What if this was actually just the ultimate state machine challenge in disguise?

Isomer sorting
by Lyosha

Task: Produce as many carbon isomers as you can before the reactor crashes/stops outputting.


If you would like to read more about Louis Pasteur's discovery, you can do so here.