Two trains are traveling toward each other on the same track, each at 60 miles per hour. When they are exactly 120 miles apart, a fly takes off from the front of one of the trains, flying toward the other train at a constant rate of 100 miles per hour. When the fly reaches the other train, it instantly changes directions and starts flying toward the other train, still at 100 miles per hour. It keeps doing this back and forth until the trains finally collide.
If you add up all the distances back and forth that the fly has travelled, how much total distance has the fly travelled when the trains finally collide?
The fly has travelled exactly 100 miles. We can figure this out using some simple math. Becuase the trains are 120 miles apart when the fly takes off, and are travelling at 60 mph each, they will collide in exactly 1 hour. This gives the fly exactly 1 hour of flying time, going at a speed of 100 miles per hour. Thus, the fly will travel 100 miles in this hour.
There are 100 ants on a board that is 1 meter long, each facing either left or right and walking at a pace of 1 meter per minute.
The board is so narrow that the ants cannot pass each other; when two ants walk into each other, they each instantly turn around and continue walking in the opposite direction. When an ant reaches the end of the board, it falls off the edge.
From the moment the ants start walking, what is the longest amount of time that could pass before all the ants have fallen off the plank? You can assume that each ant has infinitely small length.
The longest amount of time that could pass would be 1 minute.
If you were looking at the board from the side and could only see the silhouettes of the board and the ants, then when two ants walked into each other and turned around, it would look to you as if the ants had walked right by each other.
In fact, the effect of two ants walking into each other and then turning around is essentially the same as two ants walking past one another: we just have two ants at that point walking in opposite directions.
So we can treat the board as if the ants are walking past each other. In this case, the longest any ant can be on the board is 1 minute (since the board is 1 meter long and the ants walk at 1 meter per minute). Thus, after 1 minute, all the ants will be off the board.
Three ants are sitting at the three corners of an equilateral triangle. Each ant starts randomly picks a direction and starts to move along the edge of the triangle. What is the probability that none of the ants collide?
So let’s think this through. The ants can only avoid a collision if they all decide to move in the same direction (either clockwise or anti-clockwise). If the ants do not pick the same direction, there will definitely be a collision. Each ant has the option to either move clockwise or anti-clockwise. There is a one in two chance that an ant decides to pick a particular direction. Using simple probability calculations, we can determine the probability of no collision.
P(No collision) = P(All ants go in a clockwise direction) + P( All ants go in an anti-clockwise direction) = 0.5 * 0.5 * 0.5 + 0.5 * 0.5 * 0.5 = 0.25