An old man wanted to leave all of his money to one of his three sons, but he didn't know which one he should give it to. He gave each of them a few coins and told them to buy something that would be able to fill their living room. The first man bought straw, but there was not enough to fill the room. The second bought some sticks, but they still did not fill the room. The third man bought two things that filled the room, so he obtained his father's fortune. What were the two things that the man bought?
The wise son bought a candle and a box of matches. After lighting the candle, the light filled the entire room.
You have two lengths of rope. Each rope has the property that if you light it on fire at one end, it will take exactly 60 minutes to burn to the other end. Note that the ropes will not burn at a consistent speed the entire time (for example, it's possible that the first 90% of a rope will burn in 1 minute, and the last 10% will take the additional 59 minutes to burn).
Given these two ropes and a matchbook, can you find a way to measure out exactly 45 minutes?
The key observation here is that if you light a rope from both ends at the same time, it will burn in 1/2 the time it would have burned in if you had lit it on just one end.
Using this insight, you would light both ends of one rope, and one end of the other rope, all at the same time. The rope you lit at both ends will finish burning in 30 minutes. Once this happens, light the second end of the second rope. It will burn for another 15 minutes (since it would have burned for 30 more minutes without lighting the second end), completing the 45 minutes.