- You are a cook in a remote area with no clocks or other way of keeping time other than a four minute sandglass timer and a seven minute sandglass timer. (The kind you turn over - hourglass shaped) You do have a stove, however, with water in a pot already boiling. Somebody asks you for a nine-minute egg, and you know this person is a perfectionist and will be able to tell if you undercook or overcook the eggs by even a few seconds. What is the least amount of time it will take to prepare the egg? And how will you prepare it so that it is neither undercooked nor overcooked?
The answer is 9 minutes. First, flip both hourglasses over and drop the egg into the water. When the four minute timer runs out, flip it again. When the seven minute timer runs out, flip it over. The egg has been cooking seven minutes. Now when the four minute timer runs out again (after eight minutes) flip the seven minute timer back over. Since the seven minute timer has been running only a minute between flips, there's a minute worth of sand left. And when that minute runs out, the egg will have been cooking for exactly nine minutes.
- You are standing outside a closed door. On the other side of the door is a room that has three light bulbs in it. The room is completely sealed off from the outside. It has no windows and nothing can get in or out except through the door. On the outside of the room there are three light switches that control each of the respective light bulbs on the other side of the door.
Your assignment is to determine which light switch controls which light bulb. You are allowed to enter the room only once, and once you come out, you must be able to state with 100% certainty which light switch controls which light bulb.
Turn one light switch on, wait a few minutes, then turn it off and turn another light switch on. Go into the room and feel the light bulbs. The one that's still warm is connected to the switch that you first turned on, the one that is on was the second switch you turned on, and the last bulb is controlled by the switch that you didn't touch.
- You have four chains. Each chain has three links in it. Although it is difficult to cut the links, you wish to make a single loop with all 12 links. What is the fewest number of cuts you must make to accomplish this task?
3 cuts. Cut each link in one chain. Separate them, and use the links to join the ends of the 3 intact chains.
- Three people picked 65 apples altogether. At the first tree they each picked the same number of apples. At the second tree they each picked 3 times as many as they picked at the first tree. When they finished at the third tree, the group had 5 times as many apples as they had when they started at that tree. At the fourth tree the group picked just 5 apples. How many apples did each person pick at the first tree?
- You have 50 quarters on the table in front of you. You are blindfolded and cannot discern whether a coin is heads up or tails up by feeling it. You are told that x coins are heads up, where 0 < x < 50. You are asked to separate the coins into two piles in such a way that the number of heads up coins in both piles is the same at the end. You may flip any coin over as many times as you want. How will you do it?
Take x coins, flip all of them and put them in one pile. The rest of the coins form the second pile.
- Three closed boxes have either white marbles, black marbles or both, and they are labeled white, black and both. However, you're told that each of the labels are wrong. You may reach into one of the boxes and pull out only one marble. Which box should you remove a marble from to determine the contents of all three boxes?
The one labeled both. Since you know it's labeled incorrectly, it must have all black marbles or all white marbles. After you determine what it contains, you can identify the other two boxes by the process of elimination.
- You're riding a horse. To the right of you is a cliff and in front of you is an elephant going the same pace as you and you can't overtake it. To the left of you is a hippo running at the same speed and behind you is a lion chasing you. How do you get to safety?
Get off the merry-go-round.
- You are a prisoner sentenced to death. The Emperor offers you a chance to live by playing a simple game. He gives you 50 black marbles, 50 white marbles and 2 empty bowls. He then says, "Divide these 100 marbles into these 2 bowls. You can divide them any way you like as long as you use all the marbles. Then I will blindfold you and mix the bowls around. You can then choose one bowl and remove one marble. If the marble is white, you live, but if the marble is black...you die.
How do you divide the marbles up so that you have the greatest probability of choosing a white marble?
Place 1 white marble in one bowl, and place the rest of the marbles in the other bowl (49 whites, and 50 blacks). This way you begin with a 50/50 chance of choosing the bowl with just one white marble and living. But even if you choose the other bowl, you still have an almost 50% chance of picking one of the 49 white marbles. There are no guarantees in life, but this is your best bet at surviving.
- A man is looking at a picture of a man on the wall and states: Brothers and sisters I have none, but this man's father is my father's son. Who is the man in the picture in relation to the man looking at the picture?
The man in the picture is his son. Since he doesn't have any brothers or sisters, the statement my father's son is himself. A shortened version would be this man's father is myself, so he is the father of the man in the picture.
- A man wanted to enter an exclusive club but did not know the password that was required. He waited by the door and listened. A club member knocked on the door and the doorman said, "twelve." The member replied, "six" and was let in. A second member came to the door and the doorman said, "six." The member replied, "three" and was let in. The man thought he had heard enough and walked up to the door. The doorman said, "ten" and the man replied, "five". But he was not let in. What should have he said?
The man had to reply the number of characters in the word the Doorman was asking. He should have replied "Three" instead of "Five".