A king decided to let a prisoner try to escape the prison with his life. The king placed 2 marbles in a jar that was glued to a table. One of the marbles was supposed to be black, and one was supposed to be blue. If the prisoner could pick the blue marble, he would escape the prison with his life. If he picked the black marble, he would be executed. However, the king was very mean, and he wickedly placed 2 black marbles in the jars and no blue marbles. The prisoner witnessed the king only putting 2 black marbles in the jars. If the jar was not see-through and the jar was glued to the table and that the prisoner was mute so he could not say anything, how did he escape with his life?
The prisoner grabbed one of the marbles from the jar and concealed it in his hand. He then swallowed it, and picked up the other marble and showed everyone. The marble was black, and since the other marble was swallowed, it was assumed to be the blue one. So the mean king had to set him free.
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.
A swan sits at the center of a perfectly circular lake. At an edge of the lake stands a ravenous monster waiting to devour the swan. The monster can not enter the water, but it will run around the circumference of the lake to try to catch the swan as soon as it reaches the shore. The monster moves at 4 times the speed of the swan, and it will always move in the direction along the shore that brings it closer to the swan the quickest. Both the swan and the the monster can change directions in an instant.
The swan knows that if it can reach the lake's shore without the monster right on top of it, it can instantly escape into the surrounding forest.
How can the swan succesfully escape?
Assume the radius of the lake is R feet. So the circumference of the lake is (2*pi*R). If the swan swims R/4 feet, (or, put another way, 0.25R feet) straight away from the center of the lake, and then begins swimming in a circle around the center, then it will be able to swim around this circle in the exact same amount of time as the monster will be able to run around the lake's shore (since this inner circle's circumference is 2*pi*(R/4), which is exactly 4 times shorter than the shore's circumference).
From this point, the swan can move a millimeter inward toward the lake's center, and begin swimming around the center in a circle from this distance. It is now going around a very slightly smaller circle than it was a moment ago, and thus will be able to swim around this circle FASTER than the monster can run around the shore.
The swan can keep swimming around this way, pulling further away each second, until finally it is on the opposite side of its inner circle from where the monster is on the shore. At this point, the swan aims directly toward the closest shore and begins swimming that way. At this point, the swan has to swim [0.75R feet + 1 millimeter] to get to shore. Meanwhile, the monster will have to run R*pi feet (half the circumference of the lake) to get to where the swan is headed.
The monster runs four times as fast as the swan, but you can see that it has more than four times as far to run:
[0.75R feet + 1 millimeter] * 4 < R*pi
[This math could actually be incorrect if R were very very small, but in that case we could just say the swan swam inward even less than a millimeter, and make the math work out correctly.]
Because the swan has less than a fourth of the distance to travel as the monster, it will reach the shore before the monster reaches where it is and successfully escape.
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.
Frank and some of the boys were exchanging old war stories. James offered one about how his grandfather (Captain Smith) led a battalion against a German division during World War I. Through brilliant maneuvers he defeated them and captured valuable territory. Within a few months after the battle he was presented with a sword bearing the inscription: "To Captain Smith for Bravery, Daring and Leadership, World War One, from the Men of Battalion 8." Frank looked at James and said, "You really don't expect anyone to believe that yarn, do you?"
What is wrong with the story?
It wasn't called World War One until much later. It was called the Great War at first, because they did not know during that war and immediately afterward that there would be a second World War (WW II).
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!
A man comes to a small hotel where he wishes to stay for 7 nights. He reaches into his pockets and realizes that he has no money, and the only item he has to offer is a gold chain, which consists of 7 rings connected in a row (not in a loop).
The hotel proprietor tells the man that it will cost 1 ring per night, which will add up to all 7 rings for the 7 nights.
"Ok," the man says. "I'll give you all 7 rings right now to pre-pay for my stay."
"No," the proprietor says. "I don't like to be in other people's debt, so I cannot accept all the rings up front."
"Alright," the man responds. "I'll wait until after the seventh night, and then give you all of the rings."
"No," the proprietor says again. "I don't like to ever be owed anything. You'll need to make sure you've paid me the exact correct amount after each night."
The man thinks for a minute, and then says "I'll just cut each of my rings off of the chain, and then give you one each night."
"I do not want cut rings," the proprietor says. "However, I'm willing to let you cut one of the rings if you must."
The man thinks for a few minutes and then figures out a way to abide by the proprietor's rules and stay the 7 nights in the hotel. What is his plan?
The man cuts the ring that is third away from the end of the chain. This leaves him with 3 smaller chains of length 1, 2, and 4. Then, he gives rings to the proprietor as follows:
After night 1, give the proprietor the single ring
After night 2, take the single ring back and give the proprietor the 2-ring chain
After night 3, give the proprietor the single ring, totalling 3 rings with the proprietor
After night 4, take back the single ring and the 2-ring chain, and give the proprietor the 4-ring chain
After night 5, give the proprietor the single ring, totalling 5 rings with the proprietor
After night 6, take back the single ring and give the proprietor the 2-ring chain, totalling 6 rings with the proprietor
After night 7, give the proprietor the single ring, totalling 7 rings with the proprietor
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.