A swan sits at the center of a perfectly circular lake. At an edge of the lake stands a ravenous monster waiting to devour the swan. The monster can not enter the water, but it will run around the circumference of the lake to try to catch the swan as soon as it reaches the shore. The monster moves at 4 times the speed of the swan, and it will always move in the direction along the shore that brings it closer to the swan the quickest. Both the swan and the the monster can change directions in an instant.
The swan knows that if it can reach the lake's shore without the monster right on top of it, it can instantly escape into the surrounding forest.
How can the swan succesfully escape?
Assume the radius of the lake is R feet. So the circumference of the lake is (2*pi*R). If the swan swims R/4 feet, (or, put another way, 0.25R feet) straight away from the center of the lake, and then begins swimming in a circle around the center, then it will be able to swim around this circle in the exact same amount of time as the monster will be able to run around the lake's shore (since this inner circle's circumference is 2*pi*(R/4), which is exactly 4 times shorter than the shore's circumference).
From this point, the swan can move a millimeter inward toward the lake's center, and begin swimming around the center in a circle from this distance. It is now going around a very slightly smaller circle than it was a moment ago, and thus will be able to swim around this circle FASTER than the monster can run around the shore.
The swan can keep swimming around this way, pulling further away each second, until finally it is on the opposite side of its inner circle from where the monster is on the shore. At this point, the swan aims directly toward the closest shore and begins swimming that way. At this point, the swan has to swim [0.75R feet + 1 millimeter] to get to shore. Meanwhile, the monster will have to run R*pi feet (half the circumference of the lake) to get to where the swan is headed.
The monster runs four times as fast as the swan, but you can see that it has more than four times as far to run:
[0.75R feet + 1 millimeter] * 4 < R*pi
[This math could actually be incorrect if R were very very small, but in that case we could just say the swan swam inward even less than a millimeter, and make the math work out correctly.]
Because the swan has less than a fourth of the distance to travel as the monster, it will reach the shore before the monster reaches where it is and successfully escape.
A fancy restaurant in New York was offering a promotional deal. A married couple could eat at the restaurant for half-price on their anniversary. To prevent scams, the couple would need proof of their wedding date. One Thursday evening, a couple claimed it was their anniversary, but didn't bring any proof. The restaurant manager was called to speak with the couple. When the manager asked to hear about the wedding day, the wife replied with the following: "Oh, it was a wonderful Sunday afternoon, birds were chirping, and flowers were in full bloom." After nearly 10 minutes of ranting, she comes to tell him that today was their 28th wedding anniversary.
"How lovely", the manager said, "However, you do not qualify for the discount. Today is not your anniversary, you are a liar".
How did the manager know that it wasn't their anniversary?
The calendar repeats itself every 28 years. So, if they were married on a Sunday 28 years ago, the day they were at the restaurant would also have to be a Sunday. Since it was a Thursday, the manager knew they were lying, and abruptly kicked them out of his restaurant.
One company had two factories, in different parts of the country, that were making the same style of shoes. In both factories, workers were stealing shoes. How, without using any security, could that company stop the stealing?
Make one factory make the left shoe, and the other make the right shoe.
General Custer is surrounded by Indians and he's the only cowboy left.
He finds an old lamp in front of him and rubs it. Out pops a genie. The genie grants Custer one wish, with a catch. He says, "Whatever you wish for, each Indian will get two of the same thing." Custer ponders a while and thinks:"If I get a bow and arrow they get two. If I get a rifle they get two!" He then rubs the bottle again and out pops the genie. "Well," the genie asks "have you made up your mind?"
What did Custer ask for to help him get away?
James ordered a fishing rod, priced at $3.56. Unfortunately, James is an Eskimo who lives in a very remote part of Greenland and the import rules there forbid any package longer than 4 feet to be imported. The fishing rod was 4 feet and 1 inch, just a little too long, so how can the fishing rod be mailed to James without breaking the rules? Ideally James would like the fishing rod to arrive in one piece!
Insert the fishing rod into a box which measures 4 feet on all sides, the fishing rod will fit within the diagonal of the box with room to spare.