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.
Allan, Bertrand, and Cecil were caught stealing so the king sent them to the dungeon.
But the king decided to give them a chance.
He mad them stand in a line and put hats on their heads.
He told them that if they answer a riddle, they could go free.
Here is the riddle: "Each of you has a hat on your head. You do not know the color of the hat on your own head. If one of you can guess the color of the hat on your head, I will let you free. But before you answer you must keep standing in this line. You cannot turn around. Here are my only hints: there are only black and white hats. At least one hat is black. At least one hat is white."
Allan couldn't see any hats.
Bertrand could see Allan's hat but not his own.
Cecil could see Bertrand's hat and Allan's hat, but not his own.
After a minute nobody had solved the riddle. But then a short while later, one of them solved the riddle. Who was is and how did he know?
Bertrand knew the answer because Cecil didn't say anything after one minute. If Bertrand and Allan's hats were both the same color, then Cecil would know what color his hat was. But Cecil didn't know. So Bertrand knew that Allan's hat was a different color than his. Since Allan's hat was black, Betrand knew his hat was white.
One morning an airline president is leaving on a business trip and finds he left some paperwork at his office. He runs into his office to get it and the night watchman stops him and says, "Sir, don't get on the plane. I had a dream last night that the plane would crash and everyone would die!"
The man takes his word and cancels his trip. Sure enough, the plane crashes and everyone dies. The next morning the man gives the watchman a $1,000 reward for saving his life and then fires him.
Why did he fire the watchman that saved his life?
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.
A man needs to send important documents to his friend across the country. He buys a suitcase to put the documents in, but he has a problem: the mail system in his country is very corrupt, and he knows that if he doesn't lock the suitcase, it will be opened by the post office and his documents will be stolen before they reach his friend.
There are lock stores across the country that sell locks with keys. The only problem is that if he locks the suitcase, he has no way to send the key to his friend so that the friend will be able to open the lock: if he doesn't send the key, then the friend can't open the lock, and if he puts the key in the suitcase, then the friend won't be able to get to the key.
The suitcase is designed so that any number of locks can be put on it, but the man figures that putting more than one lock on the suitcase will only compound the problem.
After a few days, however, he figures out how to safely send the documents. He calls his friend who he's sending the documents to and explains the plan.
What is the man's plan?
The plan is this:
1. The man will put a lock on the suitcase, keep the key, and send the suitcase to his friend.
2. The friend will then put his own lock on the suitcase as well, keep the key to that lock, and send the suitcase back to the man.
3. The man will use his key to remove his lock from the suitcase, and send it back to the friend.
4. The friend will remove his own lock from the suitcase and get to the documents.
Search: Man-in-the-middle attack
Hussey has been caught stealing goats, and is brought into court for justice. The judge is his ex-wife Amy Hussey, who wants to show him some sympathy, but the law clearly calls for two shots to be taken at Hussey from close range.
To make things a little better for Hussey, Amy Hussey tells him she will place two bullets into a six-chambered revolver in successive order. She will spin the chamber, close it, and take one shot.
If Hussey is still alive, she will then either take another shot, or spin the chamber again before shooting. Hussey is a bit incredulous that his own ex-wife would carry out the punishment, and a bit sad that she was always such a rule follower.
He steels himself as Amy Hussey loads the chambers, spins the revolver, and pulls the trigger. Whew! It was blank. Then Amy Hussey asks, 'Do you want me to pull the trigger again, or should I spin the chamber a second time before pulling the trigger?'
What should Hussey choose?
Hussey should have Amy Hussey pull the trigger again without spinning.
We know that the first chamber Amy Hussey fired was one of the four empty chambers. Since the bullets were placed in consecutive order, one of the empty chambers is followed by a bullet, and the other three empty chambers are followed by another empty chamber. So if Hussey has Amy Hussey pull the trigger again, the probability that a bullet will be fired is 1/4.
If Amy Hussey spins the chamber again, the probability that she shoots Hussey would be 2/6, or 1/3, since there are two possible bullets that would be in firing position out of the six possible chambers that would be in position.
Your friend pulls out a perfectly circular table and a sack of quarters, and proposes a game.
"We'll take turns putting a quarter on the table," he says. "Each quarter must lay flat on the table, and cannot sit on top of any other quarters. The last person to successfully put a quarter on the table wins."
He gives you the choice to go first or second. What should you do, and what should your strategy be to win?
You should go first, and put a quarter at the exact center of the table.
Then, each time your opponent places a quarter down, you should place your next quarter in the symmetric position on the opposite side of the table.
This will ensure that you always have a place to set down our quarter, and eventually your oppponent will run out of space.
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.