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.
Create a number using only the digits 4,4,3,3,2,2,1 and 1.
So I can only be eight digits.
You have to make sure the ones are separated by one digit, the twos are separated by two digits the threes are separated with three digits and the fours are separated by four digits.
You are standing in a pitch-dark room. A friend walks up and hands you a normal deck of 52 cards. He tells you that 13 of the 52 cards are face-up, the rest are face-down. These face-up cards are distributed randomly throughout the deck.
Your task is to split up the deck into two piles, using all the cards, such that each pile has the same number of face-up cards. The room is pitch-dark, so you can't see the deck as you do this.
How can you accomplish this seemingly impossible task?
Take the first 13 cards off the top of the deck and flip them over. This is the first pile. The second pile is just the remaining 39 cards as they started.
This works because if there are N face-up cards in within the first 13 cards, then there will be (13 - N) face up cards in the remaining 39 cards. When you flip those first 13 cards, N of which are face-up, there will now be N cards face-down, and therefore (13 - N) cards face-up, which, as stated, is the same number of face-up cards in the second pile.
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.