In classic mythology, there is the story of the Sphinx, a monster with the body of a lion and the upper part of a woman.
The Sphinx lay crouched on the top of a rock along the highroad to the city of Thebes, and stopped all travellers passing by, proposing to them a riddle.
Those who failed to answer the riddle correctly were killed.
This is the riddle the Sphinx asked the travellers: "What animal walks on four legs in the morning, two legs during the day, and three legs in the evening?"
This is part of the story of Oedipus, who replied to the Sphinx, "Man, who in childhood creeps on hands and knees, in manhood walks erect, and in old age with the aid of a staff."
Morning, day and night are representative of the stages of life.
The Sphinx was so mortified at the solving of her riddle that she cast herself down from the rock and perished.
Four people come to an old bridge in the middle of the night. The bridge is rickety and can only support 2 people at a time. The people have one flashlight, which needs to be held by any group crossing the bridge because of how dark it is.
Each person can cross the bridge at a different rate: one person takes 1 minute, one person takes 2 minutes, one takes 5 minutes, and the one person takes 10 minutes. If two people are crossing the bridge together, it will take both of them the time that it takes the slower person to cross.
Unfortunately, there are only 17 minutes worth of batteries left in the flashlight. How can the four travellers cross the bridge before time runs out?
The two keys here are:
You want the two slowest people to cross together to consolidate their slow crossing times.
You want to make sure the faster people are set up in order to bring the flashlight back quickly after the slow people cross.
So the order is:
1-minute and 2-minute cross (2 minute elapsed)
1-minute comes back (3 minutes elapsed)
5-minute and 10-minute cross (13 minutes elapsed)
2-minute comes back (15 minutes elapsed)
1-minute and 2-minute cross (17 minutes elapsed)
Three people check into a hotel room. The bill is $30 so they each pay $10. After they go to the room, the hotel's cashier realizes that the bill should have only been $25. So he gives $5 to the bellhop and tells him to return the money to the guests. The bellhop notices that $5 can't be split evenly between the three guests, so he keeps $2 for himself and then gives the other $3 to the guests.
Now the guests, with their dollars back, have each paid $9 for a total of $27. And the bellhop has pocketed $2. So there is $27 + $2 = $29 accounted for. But the guests originally paid $30. What happened to the other dollar?
This riddle is just an example of misdirection. It is actually nonsensical to add $27 + $2, because the $27 that has been paid includes the $2 the bellhop made.
The correct math is to say that the guests paid $27, and the bellhop took $2, which, if given back to the guests, would bring them to their correct payment of $27 - $2 = $25.
You can easily "tile" an 8x8 chessboard with 32 2x1 tiles, meaning that you can place these 32 tiles on the board and cover every square.
But if you take away two opposite corners from the chessboard, it becomes impossible to tile this new 62-square board.
Can you explain why tiling this board isn't possible?
Color in the chessboard, alternating with red and blue tiles. Then color all of your tiles half red and half blue. Whenever you place a tile down, you can always make it so that the red part of the tile is on a red square and the blue part of the tile is on the blue square.
Since you'll need to place 31 tiles on the board (to cover the 62 squares), you would have to be able to cover 31 red squares and 31 blue squares. But when you took away the two corners, you can see that you are taking away two red spaces, leaving 30 red squares and 32 blue squares. There is no way to cover 30 red squares and 32 blue squares with the 31 tiles, since these tiles can only cover 31 red squares and 31 blue squares, and thus, tiling this board is not possible.
A boat has a ladder that has six rungs, each rung is one foot apart. The bottom rung is one foot from the water. The tide rises at 12 inches every 15 minutes. High tide peaks in one hour. When the tide is at it's highest, how many rungs are under water?
Once there was a night watchman who had been caught several times sleeping on the job. The boss issued the final warning. On the next night he was caught with his head on his hand and his elbows on the desk. "Aha, I've caught you again," exclaimed the boss. The watchman's eyes popped open immediately and he knew what had happened. Being a quick thinking man, he said one word before looking up at the boss. The boss apologized profusely and went home. What was the one word?
The one word was "AMEN", thus making the Boss believe he was praying rather than sleeping.