You have a basket of infinite size (meaning it can hold an infinite number of objects). You also have an infinite number of balls, each with a different number on it, starting at 1 and going up (1, 2, 3, etc...).
A genie suddenly appears and proposes a game that will take exactly one minute. The game is as follows: The genie will start timing 1 minute on his stopwatch. Where there is 1/2 a minute remaining in the game, he'll put balls 1, 2, and 3 into the basket. At the exact same moment, you will grab a ball out of the basket (which could be one of the balls he just put in, or any ball that is already in the basket) and throw it away.
Then when 3/4 of the minute has passed, he'll put in balls 4, 5, and 6, and again, you'll take a ball out and throw it away.
Similarly, at 7/8 of a minute, he'll put in balls 7, 8, and 9, and you'll take out and throw away one ball.
Similarly, at 15/16 of a minute, he'll put in balls 10, 11, and 12, and you'll take out and throw away one ball.
And so on....After the minute is up, the genie will have put in an infinite number of balls, and you'll have thrown away an infinite number of balls.
Assume that you pull out a ball at the exact same time the genie puts in 3 balls, and that the amount of time this takes is infinitesimally small.
You are allowed to choose each ball that you pull out as the game progresses (for example, you could choose to always pull out the ball that is divisible by 3, which would be 3, then 6, then 9, and so on...).
You play the game, and after the minute is up, you note that there are an infinite number of balls in the basket.
The next day you tell your friend about the game you played with the genie. "That's weird," your friend says. "I played the exact same game with the genie yesterday, except that at the end of my game there were 0 balls left in the basket."
How is it possible that you could end up with these two different results?
Your strategy for choosing which ball to throw away could have been one of many. One such strategy that would leave an infinite number of balls in the basket at the end of the game is to always choose the ball that is divisible by 3 (so 3, then 6, then 9, and so on...). Thus, at the end of the game, any ball of the format 3n+1 (i.e. 1, 4, 7, etc...), or of the format 3n+2 (i.e. 2, 5, 8, etc...) would still be in the basket. Since there will be an infinite number of such balls that the genie has put in, there will be an infinite number of balls in the basket.
Your friend could have had a number of strategies for leaving 0 balls in the basket. Any strategy that guarantees that every ball n will be removed after an infinite number of removals will result in 0 balls in the basket.
One such strategy is to always choose the lowest-numbered ball in the basket. So first 1, then 2, then 3, and so on. This will result in an empty basket at the game's end. To see this, assume that there is some ball in the basket at the end of the game. This ball must have some number n. But we know this ball was thrown out after the n-th round of throwing balls away, so it couldn't be in there. This contradiction shows that there couldn't be any balls left in the basket at the end of the game.
An interesting aside is that your friend could have also used the strategy of choosing a ball at random to throw away, and this would have resulted in an empty basket at the end of the game. This is because after an infinite number of balls being thrown away, the probability of any given ball being thrown away reaches 100% when they are chosen at random.
See also best riddles or new riddles.logicmath
How can you divide a pizza into 8 equal slices using only 3 straight cuts?
Cut 1: Cut the pizza straight down the middle into two halves.
Cut 2: Keeping the two halves in the place, cut the pizza straight down the middle at right angles to the first cut (you will be left with 4 equal quarters)
Cut 3: Pile the 4 quarters on top of each other and cut through the middle of the pile. You will be left with 8 equal slices.animallogicmath
You just bought a cute rabbit at a pet store. The rabbit can breed once every month, and deliver 7 babies at a time. How many rabbits do you have after 12 months?
One, it takes two rabbits to breed.logicmath
A train leaves from Halifax, Nova Scotia heading towards Vancouver, British Columbia at 120 km/h. Three hours later, a train leaves Vancouver heading towards Halifax at 180 km/h. Assume there's exactly 6000 kilometers between Vancouver and Halifax. When they meet, which train is closer to Halifax?
Both trains would be at the same spot when they meet therefore they are both equally close to Halifax.logicmathshort
Find three positive whole numbers that have the same answer added together or when multiplied together.
1,2, & 3.
1 x 2 x 3 = 6 and 1 + 2 + 3 = 6mathprobability
A girl was ten on her last birthday, and will be twelve on her next birthday. How is this possible?
Today is her 11th Birthday.cleanlogicmath
A 400 yard long train, travelling at 30 mph, enters a 4.5 mile long tunnel.
How long will elapse between the moment the front of the train enters the tunnel and the moment the end of the train clears the tunnel?
9 minutes and 27.2727 seconds.cleanlogicmathshort
How many sides does a circle have?
Two. The inside and the outside.logicprobabilityshort
Why are ghosts bad liars?
Because you can see right through them.interviewlogicmath
The Miller next took the company aside and showed them nine sacks of flour that were standing as depicted in the sketch.
"Now, hearken, all and some," said he, "while that I do set ye the riddle of the nine sacks of flour.
And mark ye, my lords and masters, that there be single sacks on the outside, pairs next unto them, and three together in the middle thereof.
By Saint Benedict, it doth so happen that if we do but multiply the pair, 28, by the single one, 7, the answer is 196, which is of a truth the number shown by the sacks in the middle.
Yet it be not true that the other pair, 34, when so multiplied by its neighbour, 5, will also make 196.
Wherefore I do beg you, gentle sirs, so to place anew the nine sacks with as little trouble as possible that each pair when thus multiplied by its single neighbour shall make the number in the middle."
As the Miller has stipulated in effect that as few bags as possible shall be moved, there is only one answer to this puzzle, which everybody should be able to solve.
The way to arrange the sacks of flour is as follows: 2, 78, 156, 39, 4. Here each pair when multiplied by its single neighbour makes the number in the middle, and only five of the sacks need be moved.
There are just three other ways in which they might have been arranged (4, 39, 156, 78, 2; or 3, 58, 174, 29, 6; or 6, 29, 174, 58, 3), but they all require the moving of seven sacks.logicmath
On the first day they cover one quarter of the total distance.
The next day they cover one quarter of what is left.
The following day they cover two fifths of the remainder and on the fourth day half of the remaining distance.
The group now have 14 miles left, how many miles have they walked?