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.
You've been placed on a course of expensive medication in which you are to take one tablet of Plusin and one tablet of Minusin daily. You must be careful that you take just one of each because taking more of either can have serious side effects. Taking Plusin without taking Minusin, or vice versa, can also be very serious, because they must be taken together in order to be effective. In summary, you must take exactly one of the Plusin pills and one of the Minusin pills at one time.
Therefore, you open up the Plusin bottle, and you tap one Plusin pill into your hand. You put that bottle aside and you open the Minusin bottle. You do the same, but by mistake, two Minusins fall into your hand with the Plusin pill.
Now, here's the problem. You weren't watching your hand as the pills fell into it, so you can't tell the Plusin pill apart from the two Minusin pills. The pills look identical. They are both the same size, same weight (10 micrograms), same color (Blue), same shape (perfect square), same everything, and they are not marked differently in any way.
What are you going to do?
You cannot tell which pill is which, and they cost $500 a piece, so you cannot afford to throw them away and start over again. How do you get your daily dose of exactly one Plusin and exactly one Minusin without wasting any of the pills?
Carefully cut each of the three pills in half, and carefully separate them into two piles, with half of each pill in each pile. You do not know which pill is which, but you are 100% sure that each of the two piles now contains two halves of Minusin and half of Plusin. Now go back into the Plusin bottle, take out a pill, cut it in half, and add one half to each stack. Now you have two stacks, each one containing two halves of Plusin and two halves of Minusin. Take one stack of pills today, and save the second stack for tomorrow.
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?
Emily was sitting at her study table, home alone, on a cold and stormy night. Her parents had taken a flight earlier in the morning to Australia as her grandmother had passed away. She had wanted to follow her parents but she had an important English examination the next day which she could not miss. The storm was getting heavier by the minute and the wind was howling outside. All this noise made it very hard for her to concentrate. She was on the verge of dozing off when she was shaken alert by a sudden "THUD!" She dismissed it as a window which had been slammed shut by the wind.
She tried to concentrate on her books when she heard faint footsteps. Emily got out of her room and looked around when suddenly, without warning, she was grabbed by the neck. She tried to scream but it came out as a mere whimper as the intruder was pressing hard against her throat with his arm. She tried to free herself from his grip but to no avail.
"Give me all your money!" growled the man who had grabbed her from behind.
"Th-there is none h-here! Please ll-let me go!" cried Emily.
"Don't LIE TO ME!" screamed the increasingly agitated man. She felt the man strengthen his grip around her neck. She said nothing and a few seconds passed by in silence. Suddenly the phone rang which alerted both of them.
"People will get suspicious if I don't answer the phone," said Emily, with a controlled voice. The intruder let her go.
"Alright, but NO funny business, or ELSE!" said the nervous intruder. Emily walked toward the phone. She took a deep breath and calmed herself. She picked up the phone. "Hey Em! How's the revision going?" said the caller.
"Hey Anna. Thanks for the call. Hey you know those Science notes I lent you last week? Well I really need them back. It would be a great help to me. It's an emergency, so if you could give me them tomorrow it would be great. Please hurry in finding the notes. I need to get back to my books now. Bye," Emily said. She hung up the phone.
"It was wise of you not to say anything," said the intruder, although he was more than a bit confused by her conversation.
"Now TELL ME WHERE THE MONEY IS KEPT!" screamed the thief.
"It...it's...in my dad's room. The first room on the right. Third drawer," said Emily. "SHOW me!" said the man, and removed his grip around her neck. She took a big gulp of air and nearly fell. She swallowed hard and said a silent prayer. She walked slowly, in silence, toward her father's room. All of a sudden, they heard police sirens. The intruder froze in his footsteps. He ran to the nearest window and jumped out of it. Emily ran outside in time to see the intruder being escorted into the car. She saw Anna and she ran toward her and hugged her.
"Smart kids," said the policeman.
What had happened?
Emily had used the mute button during her conversation with Anna so that all Anna heard was: "call...help...emergency...please hurry".
Anna, sensing something was wrong, called the police and told them Emily's address. The police were able to come to Emily's house in time to catch the perpetrator.
You are standing in a house in the middle of the countryside. There is a small hole in one of the interior walls of the house, through which 100 identical wires are protruding.
From this hole, the wires run underground all the way to a small shed exactly 1 mile away from the house, and are protruding from one of the shed's walls so that they are accessible from inside the shed.
The ends of the wires coming out of the house wall each have a small tag on them, labeled with each number from 1 to 100 (so one of the wires is labeled "1", one is labeled "2", and so on, all the way through "100"). Your task is to label the ends of the wires protruding from the shed wall with the same number as the other end of the wire from the house (so, for example, the wire with its end labeled "47" in the house should have its other end in the shed labeled "47" as well).
To help you label the ends of the wires in the shed, there are an unlimited supply of batteries in the house, and a single lightbulb in the shed. The way it works is that in the house, you can take any two wires and attach them to a single battery. If you then go to the shed and touch those two wires to the lightbulb, it will light up. The lightbulb will only light up if you touch it to two wires that are attached to the same battery. You can use as many of the batteries as you want, but you cannot attach any given wire to more than one battery at a time. Also, you cannot attach more than two wires to a given battery at one time. (Basically, each battery you use will have exactly two wires attached to it). Note that you don't have to attach all of the wires to batteries if you don't want to.
Your goal, starting in the house, is to travel as little distance as possible in order to label all of the wires in the shed.
You tell a few friends about the task at hand.
"That will require you to travel 15 miles!" of of them exclaims.
"Pish posh," yells another. "You'll only have to travel 5 miles!"
"That's nonsense," a third replies. "You can do it in 3 miles!"
Which of your friends is correct? And what strategy would you use to travel that number of miles to label all of the wires in the shed?
Believe it or not, you can do it travelling only 3 miles!
The answer is rather elegant. Starting from the house, don't attach wires 1 and 2 to any batteries, but for the remaining wires, attach them in consecutive pairs to batteries (so attach wires 3 and 4 to the same battery, attach wires 5 and 6 to the same battery, and so on all the way through wires 99 and 100).
Now travel 1 mile to the shed, and using the lightbulb, find all pairs of wires that light it up. Put a rubberband around each pair or wires that light up the lightbulb. The two wires that don't light up any lightbulbs are wires 1 and 2 (though you don't know yet which one of them is wire 1 and which is wire 2). Put a rubberband around this pair of wires as well, but mark it so you remember that they are wires 1 and 2.
Now go 1 mile back to the house, and attach odd-numbered wires to batteries in the following pairs: (1 and 3), (5 and 7), (9 and 11), and so on, all the way through (97 and 99).
Similarly, attach even-numbered wires to batteries in the following pairs: (4 and 6), (8 and 10), (12 and 14), and so on, all the way through (96 and 98).
Note that in this round, we didn't attach wire 2 or wire 100 to any batteries.
Finally, travel 1 mile back to the shed. You're now in a position to label all of the wires here.
First, remember we know the pair of wires that are, collectively, wires 1 and 2. So test wires 1 and 2 with all the other wires to see what pair lights up the lightbulb. The wire from wires 1 and 2 that doesn't light up the bulb is wire 2 (which, remember, we didn't connect to a battery), and the other is wire 1, so we can label these as such. Furthermore, the wire that, with wire 1, lights up a lightbulb, is wire 3 (remember how we connected the wires this round).
Now, the other wire in the rubber band with wire 3 is wire 4 (we know this from the first round), and the wire that, with wire 4, lights up the lightbulb, is wire 6 (again, because of how we connected the wires to batteries this round). We can continue labeling batteries this way (next we'll label wire 7, which is rubber-banded to wire 6, and then we'll label wire 9, which lights up the lightbulb with wire 7, and so on). At the end, we'll label wire 97, and then wire 99 (which lights up the lightbulb with wire 97), and finally wire 100 (which isn't connected to a battery this round, but is rubber-banded to wire 99).
And we're done, having travelled only 3 miles!