Best difficult riddles


You have a basket of infinite size (meaning it can hold an infinite number of objects). You also have an infinite number of balls, each with a different number on it, starting at 1 and going up (1, 2, 3, etc...). A genie suddenly appears and proposes a game that will take exactly one minute. The game is as follows: The genie will start timing 1 minute on his stopwatch. Where there is 1/2 a minute remaining in the game, he'll put balls 1, 2, and 3 into the basket. At the exact same moment, you will grab a ball out of the basket (which could be one of the balls he just put in, or any ball that is already in the basket) and throw it away. Then when 3/4 of the minute has passed, he'll put in balls 4, 5, and 6, and again, you'll take a ball out and throw it away. Similarly, at 7/8 of a minute, he'll put in balls 7, 8, and 9, and you'll take out and throw away one ball. Similarly, at 15/16 of a minute, he'll put in balls 10, 11, and 12, and you'll take out and throw away one ball. And so on....After the minute is up, the genie will have put in an infinite number of balls, and you'll have thrown away an infinite number of balls. Assume that you pull out a ball at the exact same time the genie puts in 3 balls, and that the amount of time this takes is infinitesimally small. You are allowed to choose each ball that you pull out as the game progresses (for example, you could choose to always pull out the ball that is divisible by 3, which would be 3, then 6, then 9, and so on...). You play the game, and after the minute is up, you note that there are an infinite number of balls in the basket. The next day you tell your friend about the game you played with the genie. "That's weird," your friend says. "I played the exact same game with the genie yesterday, except that at the end of my game there were 0 balls left in the basket." How is it possible that you could end up with these two different results?
Your strategy for choosing which ball to throw away could have been one of many. One such strategy that would leave an infinite number of balls in the basket at the end of the game is to always choose the ball that is divisible by 3 (so 3, then 6, then 9, and so on...). Thus, at the end of the game, any ball of the format 3n+1 (i.e. 1, 4, 7, etc...), or of the format 3n+2 (i.e. 2, 5, 8, etc...) would still be in the basket. Since there will be an infinite number of such balls that the genie has put in, there will be an infinite number of balls in the basket. Your friend could have had a number of strategies for leaving 0 balls in the basket. Any strategy that guarantees that every ball n will be removed after an infinite number of removals will result in 0 balls in the basket. One such strategy is to always choose the lowest-numbered ball in the basket. So first 1, then 2, then 3, and so on. This will result in an empty basket at the game's end. To see this, assume that there is some ball in the basket at the end of the game. This ball must have some number n. But we know this ball was thrown out after the n-th round of throwing balls away, so it couldn't be in there. This contradiction shows that there couldn't be any balls left in the basket at the end of the game. An interesting aside is that your friend could have also used the strategy of choosing a ball at random to throw away, and this would have resulted in an empty basket at the end of the game. This is because after an infinite number of balls being thrown away, the probability of any given ball being thrown away reaches 100% when they are chosen at random.
83.36 %
50 votes

One day, Emperor Akbar posed a question to Birbal. He asked him what Birbal would choose if he offered either justice or a gold coin. "The gold coin," said Birbal without hesitation. On hearing this, Akbar was taken aback. "You would prefer a gold coin to justice?" he asked, not believing his own ears. "Yes," said Birbal. The other courtiers were amazed by Birbal's display of idiocy. They were full of glee that Birbal had finally managed himself to do what these courtiers had not been able to do for a long time - discredit Birbal in the emperor's eyes! "I would have been disappointed if this was the choice made even by my lowliest of servants," continued the emperor. "But coming from you it's not only disappointing, but shocking and sad. I did not know you were so debased!" How did Birbal justify his answer to the enraged and hurt Emperor?
"One asks for what one does not have, Your Majesty." said Birbal, smiling gently and in quiet tones. "Under Your Majesty´s rule, justice is available to everybody. But I am a spendthrift and always short of money and therefore I said I would choose the gold coin." The answer immensely pleased the emperor and respect for Birbal was once again restored in the emperor's eyes.
83.36 %
58 votes

You have been given the task of transporting 3,000 apples 1,000 miles from Appleland to Bananaville. Your truck can carry 1,000 apples at a time. Every time you travel a mile towards Bananaville you must pay a tax of 1 apple but you pay nothing when going in the other direction (towards Appleland). What is highest number of apples you can get to Bananaville?
833 apples. Step one: First you want to make 3 trips of 1,000 apples 333 miles. You will be left with 2,001 apples and 667 miles to go. Step two: Next you want to take 2 trips of 1,000 apples 500 miles. You will be left with 1,000 apples and 167 miles to go (you have to leave an apple behind). Step three: Finally, you travel the last 167 miles with one load of 1,000 apples and are left with 833 apples in Bananaville.
83.08 %
57 votes

Fred went to a hardware store in Boston with Alex, Ben, and George. He noted that a hammer cost ten times as much as a screwdriver and a power saw cost ten times as much as a hammer. The storekeeper said that Ben could buy a power saw, George could buy a screwdriver and Alex could buy a hammer. Based on this what would the storekeeper let Fred buy? Alex's full name is Alexander and Ben's full name is Benjamin. George was Alex's boss and good friend.
Fred could buy all three (the power saw, hammer and screw driver) since he had $111 with him (a $1 bill - George Washington, a $10 Alexander Hamilton, and a $100 bill - Ben Franklin). Boston is in the USA and therefore uses the US currency I just described.
83.08 %
41 votes

You are standing in a house in the middle of the countryside. There is a small hole in one of the interior walls of the house, through which 100 identical wires are protruding. From this hole, the wires run underground all the way to a small shed exactly 1 mile away from the house, and are protruding from one of the shed's walls so that they are accessible from inside the shed. The ends of the wires coming out of the house wall each have a small tag on them, labeled with each number from 1 to 100 (so one of the wires is labeled "1", one is labeled "2", and so on, all the way through "100"). Your task is to label the ends of the wires protruding from the shed wall with the same number as the other end of the wire from the house (so, for example, the wire with its end labeled "47" in the house should have its other end in the shed labeled "47" as well). To help you label the ends of the wires in the shed, there are an unlimited supply of batteries in the house, and a single lightbulb in the shed. The way it works is that in the house, you can take any two wires and attach them to a single battery. If you then go to the shed and touch those two wires to the lightbulb, it will light up. The lightbulb will only light up if you touch it to two wires that are attached to the same battery. You can use as many of the batteries as you want, but you cannot attach any given wire to more than one battery at a time. Also, you cannot attach more than two wires to a given battery at one time. (Basically, each battery you use will have exactly two wires attached to it). Note that you don't have to attach all of the wires to batteries if you don't want to. Your goal, starting in the house, is to travel as little distance as possible in order to label all of the wires in the shed. You tell a few friends about the task at hand. "That will require you to travel 15 miles!" of of them exclaims. "Pish posh," yells another. "You'll only have to travel 5 miles!" "That's nonsense," a third replies. "You can do it in 3 miles!" Which of your friends is correct? And what strategy would you use to travel that number of miles to label all of the wires in the shed?
Believe it or not, you can do it travelling only 3 miles! The answer is rather elegant. Starting from the house, don't attach wires 1 and 2 to any batteries, but for the remaining wires, attach them in consecutive pairs to batteries (so attach wires 3 and 4 to the same battery, attach wires 5 and 6 to the same battery, and so on all the way through wires 99 and 100). Now travel 1 mile to the shed, and using the lightbulb, find all pairs of wires that light it up. Put a rubberband around each pair or wires that light up the lightbulb. The two wires that don't light up any lightbulbs are wires 1 and 2 (though you don't know yet which one of them is wire 1 and which is wire 2). Put a rubberband around this pair of wires as well, but mark it so you remember that they are wires 1 and 2. Now go 1 mile back to the house, and attach odd-numbered wires to batteries in the following pairs: (1 and 3), (5 and 7), (9 and 11), and so on, all the way through (97 and 99). Similarly, attach even-numbered wires to batteries in the following pairs: (4 and 6), (8 and 10), (12 and 14), and so on, all the way through (96 and 98). Note that in this round, we didn't attach wire 2 or wire 100 to any batteries. Finally, travel 1 mile back to the shed. You're now in a position to label all of the wires here. First, remember we know the pair of wires that are, collectively, wires 1 and 2. So test wires 1 and 2 with all the other wires to see what pair lights up the lightbulb. The wire from wires 1 and 2 that doesn't light up the bulb is wire 2 (which, remember, we didn't connect to a battery), and the other is wire 1, so we can label these as such. Furthermore, the wire that, with wire 1, lights up a lightbulb, is wire 3 (remember how we connected the wires this round). Now, the other wire in the rubber band with wire 3 is wire 4 (we know this from the first round), and the wire that, with wire 4, lights up the lightbulb, is wire 6 (again, because of how we connected the wires to batteries this round). We can continue labeling batteries this way (next we'll label wire 7, which is rubber-banded to wire 6, and then we'll label wire 9, which lights up the lightbulb with wire 7, and so on). At the end, we'll label wire 97, and then wire 99 (which lights up the lightbulb with wire 97), and finally wire 100 (which isn't connected to a battery this round, but is rubber-banded to wire 99). And we're done, having travelled only 3 miles!
83.05 %
49 votes