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.
Three people check into a hotel room. The bill is $30 so they each pay $10. After they go to the room, the hotel's cashier realizes that the bill should have only been $25. So he gives $5 to the bellhop and tells him to return the money to the guests. The bellhop notices that $5 can't be split evenly between the three guests, so he keeps $2 for himself and then gives the other $3 to the guests.
Now the guests, with their dollars back, have each paid $9 for a total of $27. And the bellhop has pocketed $2. So there is $27 + $2 = $29 accounted for. But the guests originally paid $30. What happened to the other dollar?
This riddle is just an example of misdirection. It is actually nonsensical to add $27 + $2, because the $27 that has been paid includes the $2 the bellhop made.
The correct math is to say that the guests paid $27, and the bellhop took $2, which, if given back to the guests, would bring them to their correct payment of $27 - $2 = $25.
You can easily "tile" an 8x8 chessboard with 32 2x1 tiles, meaning that you can place these 32 tiles on the board and cover every square.
But if you take away two opposite corners from the chessboard, it becomes impossible to tile this new 62-square board.
Can you explain why tiling this board isn't possible?
Color in the chessboard, alternating with red and blue tiles. Then color all of your tiles half red and half blue. Whenever you place a tile down, you can always make it so that the red part of the tile is on a red square and the blue part of the tile is on the blue square.
Since you'll need to place 31 tiles on the board (to cover the 62 squares), you would have to be able to cover 31 red squares and 31 blue squares. But when you took away the two corners, you can see that you are taking away two red spaces, leaving 30 red squares and 32 blue squares. There is no way to cover 30 red squares and 32 blue squares with the 31 tiles, since these tiles can only cover 31 red squares and 31 blue squares, and thus, tiling this board is not possible.
Four people come to an old bridge in the middle of the night. The bridge is rickety and can only support 2 people at a time. The people have one flashlight, which needs to be held by any group crossing the bridge because of how dark it is.
Each person can cross the bridge at a different rate: one person takes 1 minute, one person takes 2 minutes, one takes 5 minutes, and the one person takes 10 minutes. If two people are crossing the bridge together, it will take both of them the time that it takes the slower person to cross.
Unfortunately, there are only 17 minutes worth of batteries left in the flashlight. How can the four travellers cross the bridge before time runs out?
The two keys here are:
You want the two slowest people to cross together to consolidate their slow crossing times.
You want to make sure the faster people are set up in order to bring the flashlight back quickly after the slow people cross.
So the order is:
1-minute and 2-minute cross (2 minute elapsed)
1-minute comes back (3 minutes elapsed)
5-minute and 10-minute cross (13 minutes elapsed)
2-minute comes back (15 minutes elapsed)
1-minute and 2-minute cross (17 minutes elapsed)
You are blindfolded and 10 coins are place in front of you on table. You are allowed to touch the coins, but can't tell which way up they are by feel. You are told that there are 5 coins head up, and 5 coins tails up but not which ones are which.
How do you make two piles of coins each with the same number of heads up?
You can flip the coins any number of times.
Make 2 piles with equal number of coins. Now, flip all the coins in one of the pile.
How this will work? lets take an example.
So initially there are 5 heads, so suppose you divide it in 2 piles.
P1 : H H T T T
P2 : H H H T T
Now when P1 will be flipped
P1 : T T H H H
P1(Heads) = P2(Heads)
P1 : H T T T T
P2 : H H H H T
Now when P1 will be flipped
P1 : H H H H T
P1(Heads) = P2(Heads)
100 men are in a room, each wearing either a white or black hat. Nobody knows the color of his own hat, although everyone can see everyone else's hat. The men are not allowed to communicate with each other at all (and thus nobody will ever be able to figure out the color of his own hat).
The men need to line up against the wall such that all the men with black hats are next to each other, and all the men with white hats are next to each other. How can they do this without communicating? You can assume they came up with a shared strategy before coming into the room.
The men go to stand agains the wall one at a time. If a man goes to stand against the wall and all of the men already against the wall have the same color hat, then he just goes and stands at either end of the line. However, if a man goes to stand against the wall and there are men with both black and white hats already against the wall, he goes and stands between the two men with different colored hats. This will maintain the state that the line contains men with one colored hats on one side, and men with the other colored hats on the other side, and when the last man goes and stands against the wall, we'll still have the desired outcome.
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?