I dig out tiny caves, and store gold and silver in them.
I also build bridges of silver and make crowns of gold.
They are the smallest you could imagine.
Sooner or later everybody needs my help,
yet many people are afraid to let me help them.
What am I?
You have two lengths of rope. Each rope has the property that if you light it on fire at one end, it will take exactly 60 minutes to burn to the other end. Note that the ropes will not burn at a consistent speed the entire time (for example, it's possible that the first 90% of a rope will burn in 1 minute, and the last 10% will take the additional 59 minutes to burn).
Given these two ropes and a matchbook, can you find a way to measure out exactly 45 minutes?
The key observation here is that if you light a rope from both ends at the same time, it will burn in 1/2 the time it would have burned in if you had lit it on just one end.
Using this insight, you would light both ends of one rope, and one end of the other rope, all at the same time. The rope you lit at both ends will finish burning in 30 minutes. Once this happens, light the second end of the second rope. It will burn for another 15 minutes (since it would have burned for 30 more minutes without lighting the second end), completing the 45 minutes.
You are a prisoner sentenced to death. The Emperor offers you a chance to live by playing a simple game. He gives you 50 black marbles, 50 white marbles and 2 empty bowls. He then says, "Divide these 100 marbles into these 2 bowls. You can divide them any way you like as long as you use all the marbles. Then I will blindfold you and mix the bowls around. You then can choose one bowl and remove ONE marble. If the marble is WHITE you will live, but if the marble is BLACK... you will die." How do you divide the marbles up so that you have the greatest probability of choosing a WHITE marble?
HINT: The answer does not guarantee 100% you will chose a white marble, but you have a much better chance.
Place 1 white marble in the bowl, and place the rest of the marbles in the other bowl (49 whites, and 50 blacks). This way you begin a 50/50 chance of choosing the bowl with just one white marble, therefore life! BUT even if you choose the other bowl, you still have almost a 50/50 chance at picking one of the 49 white marbles.