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.
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?
It was a Pink Island. There were 201 individuals (perfect logicians) lived in the island. Among them 100 people were blue eyed people, 100 were green eyed people and the leader was a black eyed one.
Except the leader, nobody knew how many individuals lived in the island. Neither have they known about the color of the eyes. The leader was a very strict person. Those people can never communicate with others. They even cannot make gestures to communicate. They can only talk and communicate with the leader. It was a prison for those 200 individuals.
However, the leader provided an opportunity to leave the island forever but on one condition. Every morning he questions the individuals about the color of the eyes! If any of the individuals say the right color, he would be released. Since they were unaware about the color of the eyes, all 200 individuals remained silent. When they say wrong color, they were eaten alive to death. Afraid of punishment, they remained silent.
One day, the leader announced that "at least 1 of you has green eyes! If you say you are the one, come and say, I will let you go if you are correct! But only one of you can come and tell me!"
How many green eyed individuals leave the island and in how many days?
All 100 green eyed individuals will leave on the 100th night.
Consider, there is only one green eyed individual lived in the island. He will look at all the remaining individuals who have blue eyes. So, he can get assured that he has green eyes!
Now consider 2 people with green eyes. Only reason the other green-eyed person wouldn't leave on the first night is because he sees another person with green eyes. Seeing no one else with green eyes, each of these two people realize it must be them. So both leaves on second night.
This is the same for any number. Five people with green eyes would leave on the fifth night and 100 on the 100th, all at once.
Search: Monty Hall problem
Why it's important for the solution that the leader said the new information "at least 1 of you has green eyes", when they must knew from the beginning, that there are no less than 99 green-eyed people on the island? Because they cannot depart the island without being certain, they cannot begin the process of leaving until the guru speaks, and common knowledge is attained.
Search: Common knowledge (logic)
In olden days you are a clever thief charged with treason against the king and sentenced to death.
But the king decides to be a little lenient and lets you choose your own way to die.
What way should you choose?
Remember, you're clever!
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.
You have two jugs, one that holds exactly 3 gallons, and one that holds exactly 5 gallons. Using just these two jugs and a fire hose, how can you measure out exactly 4 gallons of water?
Fill the 5-gallon jug to the top, and then pour it into the 3-gallon jug until the 3-gallon jug is full. You now have 2 gallons remaining in the 5-gallon jug. Pour out the 3-gallon jug, and then pour the 2 gallons from the 5-gallon jug into the 3-gallon jug. Finally, fill the 5-gallon jug to the top and pour it into the 3-gallon jug until it's full. Since there was only space left for 1 more gallon in the 3-gallon jug, you now have exactly 4 gallons in the 5-gallon jug.
There are 100 ants on a board that is 1 meter long, each facing either left or right and walking at a pace of 1 meter per minute.
The board is so narrow that the ants cannot pass each other; when two ants walk into each other, they each instantly turn around and continue walking in the opposite direction. When an ant reaches the end of the board, it falls off the edge.
From the moment the ants start walking, what is the longest amount of time that could pass before all the ants have fallen off the plank? You can assume that each ant has infinitely small length.
The longest amount of time that could pass would be 1 minute.
If you were looking at the board from the side and could only see the silhouettes of the board and the ants, then when two ants walked into each other and turned around, it would look to you as if the ants had walked right by each other.
In fact, the effect of two ants walking into each other and then turning around is essentially the same as two ants walking past one another: we just have two ants at that point walking in opposite directions.
So we can treat the board as if the ants are walking past each other. In this case, the longest any ant can be on the board is 1 minute (since the board is 1 meter long and the ants walk at 1 meter per minute). Thus, after 1 minute, all the ants will be off the board.
Last week, the local Primary school was visited by the Government School Inspector who was there to check that teachers were performing well in their respective classes. He was very impressed with one particular teacher. The Inspector noticed that each time the class teacher asked a question, every child in the class put up their hands enthusiastically to answer it. More surprisingly, whilst the teacher chose a different child to answer the questions each time, the answers were always correct.
Why would this be?
The children were instructed to ALL raise their hands whenever a question was asked. It did not matter whether they knew the answer or not. If they did not know the answer, however, they would raise their LEFT hand. If they knew the answer, they would raise their RIGHT hand. The class teacher would choose a different child each time, but always the ones who had their RIGHT hand raised.
An infinite number of mathematicians are standing behind a bar. The first asks the barman for half a pint of beer, the second for a quarter pint, the third an eighth, and so on. How many pints of beer will the barman need to fulfill all mathematicians' wishes?
Pirate Pete had been captured by a Spanish general and sentenced to death by his 50-man firing squad. Pete cringed, as he knew their reputation for being the worst firing squad in the Spanish military. They were such bad shots that they would often all miss their targets and simply maim their victims, leaving them to bleed to death, as the general's tradition was to only allow one shot per man to save on ammunition. The thought of a slow painful death made Pete beg for mercy.
"Very well, I have some compassion. You may choose where the men stand when they shoot you and I will add 50 extra men to the squad to ensure someone will at least hit you. Perhaps if they stand closer they will kill you quicker, if you're lucky," snickered the general. "Oh, and just so you don't get any funny ideas, they can't stand more than 20 ft away, they must be facing you, and you must remain tied to the post in the middle of the yard. And to show I'm not totally heartless, if you aren't dead by sundown I'll release you so you can die peacefully outside the compound. I must go now but will return tomorrow and see to it that you are buried in a nice spot, though with 100 men, I doubt there will be much left of you to bury."
After giving his instructions the general left. Upon his return the next day, he found that Pete had been set free alive and well. "How could this be?" demanded the general. "It was where Pete had us stand," explained the captain of the squad.
Where did Pete tell them to stand?
Pete told them to form a circle around him. All the squad was facing in at Pete, ready to shoot, when they realized that everyone who missed would likely end up shooting another squad member. So no one dared to fire, knowing the risk. Thus at sundown he was released.