Instead of only one puzzle this month, I’m presenting 90 of them, to be found at this link: http://www.physics.harvard.edu/academics/undergrad/problems.html
You can either do them all this month or spread them out over 7.5 years! This is a Harvard site, so it has to be good, right? If you live in MA, you might even want to stop in at Harvard’s Lyman 233 and meet the puzzle maker.
The solution to each puzzle is right next to it, so there’s no waiting. Challenge yourself, or go for the solution immediately. Your choice.
Suggestion: Problem 4, Passing the Spaghetti, is a fun one to start with.
Solutions to Brainteasers for April 2, 2013.
3. TO ERR IS HUMAN, TO FORGIVE DIVINE
Here are a few BRAIN TEASERS –
1. A hand of cards consists of one Queen, two Diamonds, three Aces, and four Spades. What is the minimum number of cards the hand could contain?
2. The word FACETIOUSLY contains the vowels A, E, I, O and U, plus Y, in alphabetical order. Can you think of another English word that does the same?
WHY NOT ADD YOUR OWN FAVORITE?
SOLUTION to the Math Puzzle of March 5, 2013: At a party, everyone shook hands with everyone else. There were 66 handshakes. How many people were at the party?
If there are n people at the party, each person shakes hands with n-1 others, so there are n (n-1) handshakes. But this would count each handshake twice, once for each person of the pair, so the formula is n (n-1) /2.
In our case, n (n-1)/2 = 66
Solving the quadratic equation n2 – n -132 = 0, n = 12.
12 people at the party.
At a party, everyone shook hands with everyone else. There were 66 handshakes. How many people were at the party?
(Feeling superior? Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855) figured this out when he was 8 years old.)
First, a couple of riddles that may seem corny, but they’re from an interesting article in Forbes, and have a point!
1. Johnny’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child’s name?
2. A clerk at a butcher shop stands five feet ten inches tall and wears size 13 sneakers. What does he weigh?
3. Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?
How quickly did you come up with the correct answer, as opposed to what you expected the answer to be?
Our brain doesn’t like information gaps, so we tend to jump at the first answer/solution that looks good rather than take the time to examine all the data. Teasing the brain helps break this habit.
All of this has important implications for decision making. As Forbes reminds us, the marketers are watching!
N.B. The solution to the January “sticks” puzzle is included in the Comments section of that blog.
Happy New Year!
Here’s a little brainteaser to get us off to a good start for 2013:
You have 5 sticks of lengths 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 inches. If you choose 3 of them at random, what’s the likelihood that the 3 sticks can be put together, tip to tip, to form a triangle?
SOLUTION to the Cryptoquote of December 4:
One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly. ~Andy Rooney
(But, with any luck, by now you have your living room back to “normal!”)
FIRST, a brand new cryptoquote from a program designed by expert programmer, Mike Kaplan.
FMC FE GJC KFWG LTFHDFAW KCWWCW DM GJC BFHTV DW GJC KCWW OHCNGCV DM GJC TDUDML HFFK FM OJHDWGKNW VNZ. VFM’G OTCNM DG AI GFF PADOYTZ. – NMVZ HFFMCZ
Post your answer in the comments section below, or email me at email@example.com
SECOND, possible SOLUTIONS to the TOM SWIFTIES from November 6:
1. “I was adopted,” said Tom _____. TRANS/PARENTLY
2. “Pass the playing cards,” said Tom _____. I/DEALLY
3. “I know the square root of 64,” said Tom ____. CONSIDER/ATELY
4. “The prisoner escaped down a rope,” said Tom ____.CON/DESCENINGLY
Though Sophie often pans puns, she’s a fan of the special category, TOM SWIFTIES, a style of attribution where the adverb is linked by a pun to the quoted phrase.
A couple of examples:
“Let’s keep this fire lit,” Tom bellowed.
“One of you damaged the wheel of my bike,” said Tom outspokenly.
“Get to the back of the ship,” said Tom sternly.
If you get the point, take a stab at completing these:
1. “I was adopted,” said Tom _____.
2. “Pass the playing cards,” said Tom _____.
3. “I know the square root of 64,” said Tom ____.
4. “The prisoner escaped down a rope,” said Tom ____.
Or, make up your own:
SOLUTION TO the PROGRESSIVE MATRIX PUZZLE from October 2:
Here’s a Progressive Matrix puzzle from the Wall Street Journal: Fill in the last square at the appropriate spot.
SOLUTION TO FALLEN LETTERS PUZZLE from September 4:
I always cheer up/ immensely if an attack/ is particularly wounding/ because I think, well,/ if they attack one/ personally, it means/ they have not a single/ political argument left.
(from Margaret Thatcher)
Here’s a “Fallen Letters Puzzle” in honor of the political conventions.
Each letter in a column from the quote has “fallen” to the columns directly below, but not in any particular order. Your job: put the letters back in their places to form the quote. Note: commas are given their own block, and are indicated. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want (another) hint!
SOLUTION to August 7 physics puzzle is HERE.
You have two spheres with the same outside dimensions, the same volume, and the same mass. The outside parts are made of the same material. The difference: one is hollow inside. How can you determine which is which? (No blunt-force instruments allowed.)
SOLUTION TO BLACK CAT PROBLEM from July 3:
If a black cat crosses in front of you and then crosses back, is your bad luck doubled or canceled?
DOUBLED if the cat is a scalar; CANCELED if the cat is a vector.