A king has 100 identical servants, each with a different rank between 1 and 100. At the end of each day, each servant comes into the king's quarters, one-by-one, in a random order, and announces his rank to let the king know that he is done working for the day. For example, servant 14 comes in and says "Servant 14, reporting in."
One day, the king's aide comes in and tells the king that one of the servants is missing, though he isn't sure which one.
Before the other servants begin reporting in for the night, the king asks for a piece of paper to write on to help him figure out which servant is missing. Unfortunately, all that's available is a very small piece that can only hold one number at a time. The king is free to erase what he writes and write something new as many times as he likes, but he can only have one number written down at a time.
The king's memory is bad and he won't be able to remember all the exact numbers as the servants report in, so he must use the paper to help him.
How can he use the paper such that once the final servant has reported in, he'll know exactly which servant is missing?
When the first servant comes in, the king should write down his number. For each other servant that reports in, the king should add that servant's number to the current number written on the paper, and then write this new number on the paper.
Once the final servant has reported in, the number on the paper should equal
(1 + 2 + 3 + ... + 99 + 100) - MissingServantsNumber
Since (1 + 2 + 3 + ... + 99 + 100) = 5050, we can rephrase this to say that the number on the paper should equal
5050 - MissingServantsNumber
So to figure out the missing servant's number, the king simply needs to subtract the number written on his paper from 5050:
MissingServantsNumber = 5050 - NumberWrittenOnThePaper
You are somewhere on Earth. You walk due south 1 mile, then due east 1 mile, then due north 1 mile. When you finish this 3-mile walk, you are back exactly where you started.
It turns out there are an infinite number of different points on earth where you might be. Can you describe them all?
It's important to note that this set of points should contain both an infinite number of different latitudes, and an infinite number of different longitudes (though the same latitudes and longitudes can be repeated multiple times); if it doesn't, you haven't thought of all the points.
One of the points is the North Pole. If you go south one mile, and then east one mile, you're still exactly one mile south of the North Pole, so you'll be back where you started when you go north one mile.
To think of the next set of points, imagine the latitude slighty north of the South Pole, where the length of the longitudinal line around the Earth is exactly one mile (put another way, imagine the latitude slightly north of the South Pole where if you were to walk due east one mile, you would end up exactly where you started). Any point exactly one mile north of this latitude is another one of the points you could be at, because you would walk south one mile, then walk east a mile around and end up where you started the eastward walk, and then walk back north one mile to your starting point. So this adds an infinite number of other points we could be at. However, we have not yet met the requirement that our set of points has an infinite number of different latitudes.
To meet this requirement and see the rest of the points you might be at, we just generalize the previous set of points. Imagine the latitude slightly north of the South Pole that is 1/2 mile in distance. Also imagine the latitudes in this area that are 1/3 miles in distance, 1/4 miles in distance, 1/5 miles, 1/6 miles, and so on. If you are at any of these latitudes and you walk exactly one mile east, you will end up exactly where you started. Thus, any point that is one mile north of ANY of these latitudes is another one of the points you might have started at, since you'll walk one mile south, then one mile east and end up where you started your eastward walk, and finally, one mile north back to where you started.
A new student met the Zen Master after traveling hundreds of miles by yak cart. He was understandably pleased with himself for being selected to learn at the great master's feet .
The first time they formally met, the Zen Master asked, "May I ask you a simple question?" "It would be an honor!" replied the student.
"Which is greater, that which has no beginning or that which has no end?" queried the Zen Master. "Come back when you have the answer and can explain why."
After the student made many frustrated trips back with answers which the master quickly cast off with a disapproving negative nod, the Zen Master finally said, "Perhaps I should ask you another question?"
"Oh, please do!" pleaded the exasperated student.
The Zen Master then asked, "Since you do not know that, answer this much simpler riddle. When can a pebble hold back the sea?" Again the student was rebuffed time and again. Several more questions followed with the same result. Each time, the student could not find the correct answer. Finally, completely exasperated, the student began to weep, "Master, I am a complete idiot. I can not solve even the simplest riddle from you!"
Suddenly, the student stopped, sat down, and said, "I am ready for my second lesson."
What was the Zen Master's first lesson?
The student's first lesson was that in order to learn from the Zen Master, the student should be asking the questions and not the Zen Master.
This is an unusual paragraph. I’m curious as to just how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so ordinary and plain that you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is highly unusual though. Study it and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out. Try to do so without any coaching.
The letter "e", which is the most common letter in the English language, does not appear once in the long paragraph.
A woman who lived in Germany during World War II wanted to cross the German/Swiss border in order to escape Nazi pursuers. The bridge which she is to cross is a half mile across, over a large canyon. Every three minutes a guard comes out of his bunker and checks if anyone is on the bridge. If a person is caught trying to escape German side to the Swiss side they are shot. If caught crossing the other direction without papers they are sent back. She knows that it takes at least five minutes to cross the bridge, in which time the guard will see her crossing and shoot her. How does she get across?
She waits until the guard goes inside his hunt, and begins to walk across the bridge. She gets a little more than half way, turns around, and begins to walk toward the german side once more. The guard comes out, sees that she has no papers, and sends her "back" to the swiss side.
Bill and Stacie are delighted when their new baby, Patrick, is born on February 29th, 2008. They think it's good luck to for him to be born on the special day of the leap year. But then they start thinking about when to celebrate his next birthday. After some thought, they decide that they want to celebrate Patrick's next birthday (when he turns 1) exactly 365 days after he was born, just like most people do.
What will be the date of this birthday?
The date of the birthday will be February 28th, 2009.
At first it might seem like his birthday should be March 1st, 2009, since February 29th is the day after February 28th in the leap year, while March 1st is the day after February 28th in non-leap years. But this is the wrong way to think about it.
The right way to think about it is that 365 days after the day before March 1st is always February 28th, regardless of whether it's a leap year or not. So Patrick's birthday will be February 28th.