This puzzle was created in honor of my daughter Astrid, who is a few months away from finishing her PhD thesis. This year’s Thanksgiving vacation became a crossword puzzle solving fest and the idea for this puzzle came from discussions while she was working on one of my other puzzles. As she is still early in her solving pursuits, I clued this to Monday/Tuesday NYT levels.
The puzzle ended up at 80 words which is too many for most publications but was necessary to make the theme work. I’ve been making more puzzles lately with no intention of trying to get them published and so didn’t focus on word count until the puzzle was already made.
In reality, I don’t think anyone but a constructor actually cares about the word count, you should just enjoy the puzzle! Even if you aren’t splitting atoms for your day job.