# Web Puzzles

## Socks And Shops

Sarks and Mencer's was a brand new shop built in the basement floor of a shopping centre. To mark their opening day, they had many special offers. The most popular was the buy ten pairs of socks for half price. Each pair of socks were attached together with a plastic clip that doubled as a miniture hanger whilst on display. There was only a single size and only ten colours to choose from, which is why both Andrew and Bob each chose one of each colour. Each armed with ten pairs of differently coloured socks, they were moving towards the checkout when there was a power failure. They bumped into each other and dropped all twenty pairs of socks.

Without being able to see the colour of the socks, how could they divide them so that they both got 10 pairs of uniquely coloured socks each?

### Socks And Shops Puzzle Solution

For each of the twenty pairs of socks, they unclipped it and gave one sock each.

## Strawberry Ice Cream

A man walks into a bar, orders a drink, and starts chatting with the bartender.

After a while, he learns that the bartender has three children. "How old are your children?" he asks.
"Well," replies the bartender, "The product of their ages is 72."

The man thinks for a moment and then says, "That's not enough information."

"All right," continues the bartender. "If you go outside and look at the building number posted over the door to the bar, you'll see the sum of the ages."

The man steps outside, and after a few moments he reenters and declares, "Still not enough!"

The bartender smiles and says, "My youngest just loves strawberry ice cream."

How old are the children?

### Strawberry Ice Cream Puzzle Solution

First, determine all the ways that three ages can multiply together to get 72:
• 72 1 1 (quite a feat for the bartender)
• 36 2 1
• 24 3 1
• 18 4 1
• 18 2 2
• 12 6 1
• 12 3 2
• 9 4 2
• 9 8 1
• 8 3 3
• 6 6 2
• 6 4 3
As the man says, that's not enough information; there are many possibilities.

So the bartender tells him where to find the sum of the ages--the man now knows the sum even though we don't. Yet he still insists that there isn't enough info. This must mean that there are two permutations with the same sum; otherwise the man could have easily deduced the ages.

The only pair of permutations with the same sum are 8 3 3 and 6 6 2, which both add up to 14 (the bar's address). Now the bartender mentions his "youngest"--telling us that there is one child who is younger than the other two. This is impossible with 8 3 3--there are two 3 year olds. Therefore the ages of the children are 6, 6, and 2.

Pedants have objected that the problem is insoluble because there could be a youngest between two three year olds (even twins are not born exactly at the same time). However, the word "age" is frequently used to denote the number of years since birth. For example, I am the same age as my wife, even though technically she is a few months older than I am. And using the word "youngest" to mean "of lesser age" is also in keeping with common parlance. So I think the solution is fine as stated.

## Hansel And Gretal

I walk in a straight line in the forest. As I walk, I leave a repeating pattern of 1's and 0's behind me.

What is the length of the shortest pattern such that if you happen along my trail, you can determine with certainty which direction I was going?

### Hansel And Gretal Puzzle Solution

One solution is 010011, and is probably the shortest. In a repeating series of this pattern, we may get:
...11010011010011010011010011...

If we are to look through the sequence, we should find that we can match the pattern 010011 but not the reverse pattern, 110010. Hence we know which direction the person was travelling.
...11010011010011010011010011...

## TV Show

The host of the show pointed at three doors. He claimed that, behind one of the doors, a brand new sportscar was awaiting a lucky winner. The other two doors, he warned, did not lead to any prize.

The contestant picked the first door as his guess. At that point, the host walked to the third door and opened it. The door led to no prize, which is something the host knew perfectly well. He then gave the chance to the contestant to switch and pick the second door, if he so wished, or to stick to his first choice and stay with the first door.

Did the contestant have a greater chance of winning the car, by sticking with the 1st door, or by switching to the 2nd door? Or were the chances equal?

Notes:
The contestant knew three things: first, that the host doesn't want him to win; second, that the host was going to open one of the doors; and third, that the host would never open the door picked by the contestant himself... regardless of where the prize really is.

### TV Show Puzzle Solution

This puzzle isn't particularly new, but it became very well known in 1990, thanks to the person that allegedly had "the highest IQ ever recorded" -- 228, according to The Guinness Book of WorldRecords. Miss Marilyn vos Savant (yes, it was a female) wrote a solution to this puzzle on her weekly column, published in a popular magazine. This solution led to waves of mathematicians, statisticians, and professors to very heated discussions about the validity of it.

The contestant, according to vos Savant, had a greater chance of winning the car by switching his pick to the 2nd door.

She claimed that by sticking to the first choice, the chances of winning were 1 out of 3, while the chances doubled to 2 out of 3 by switching choices. To convince her readers, she invited her readers to imagine 1 million doors instead of just 3. "You pick door number 1," she wrote, "and the host, who knows what's behind every door, and doesn't want you to win, opens all of the other doors, bar number 777,777. You wouldn't think twice about switching doors, right?"

Most of her readership didn't find it as obvious as she thought it was... She started receiving a lot of mail, much of it from mathematicians, who didn't agree at all. They argued that the chances were absolutely equal, whether or not the contestant switched choice.

The week after, she attempted to convince her readers of her reasoning, by creating a table where all 6 possible outcomes were considered:

 Door 1 Door 2 Door 3 Outcome (sticking to door 1) Car Nothing Nothing Victory Nothing Car Nothing Loss Nothing Nothing Car Loss Door 1 Door 2 Door 3 Outcome (switching to other door) Car Nothing Nothing Loss Nothing Car Nothing Victory Nothing Nothing Car Victory

The table, she explained, shows that "by switching choices you win 2 out of 3 times; on the other hand, by sticking to the first choice, you win only once out of of 3 times".

However, this wasn't enough to silence her critics. Actually, it was getting worse.

"When reality seems to cause such a conflict with good sense," wrote vos Savant, "people are left shaken." This time, she tried a different route. Let's imagine that, after the host shows that there's nothing behind one of the doors, the set becomes the landing pad for a UFO. Out of it comes a little green lady. Without her knowing which door was picked first by the contestant, she is asked to pick one of the remaining closed doors. The chances for her to find the car are 50%. "That's because she doesn't have the advantage enjoyed by the contestant, ie the host's help. If the prize is behind door 2, he will open door 3; if it is behind door 3, he will open door 2. Therefore, if you switch choice, you will win if the prize is behind door 2 or 3. YOU WIN IN EITHER CASES! If you DON'T switch, you'll win only if the car is behind door 1".

Apparently, she was absolutely right, because the mathematicians reluctantly admitted their mistake.

## The Package

G answered his ringing mobile phone. "G here."

"It's H. Do you have the package?"

"Yes. I have the object, in its box."

"Very good," said H. "So send the box to me using the lock I gave you last time we met."

"I'm afraid I can't," said G hestitantly.

"Why not? The locking ring on the box is more than large enough to fit a lock on."

"I seem to have um, misplaced the lock."

"You what!" snarled H. "Do you have any other locks?"

"Yes, but you don't have the keys to them. We can't risk sending an unsecured box, nor an unsecured key. Sending an unlocked lock is out of the question, because they re-lock themselves automatically after a 2 minute timeout."

"Ah, all is not lost... I have an spare lock here... How much time do we have?"

"Plenty," replied G.

"Good. There is a way…

How can they get the box and the object from G to H without any security risk?

Notes:
• They can't meet in person -- that would render the puzzle pointless.
• No, G can't go and look for the misplaced lock!
• You cannot send a key by itself or in an unlocked box.

### The Package Puzzle Solution

With the object in the box, G locks it with one of his own locks. He then sends the box to H. H attaches his own lock in addition to G's and then sends it back. G removes his lock and then sends it to H again.

## Trick Mules

Start with the three puzzle pieces arranged so that the two jockeys are correctly riding the two weary-looking mules.

Rearrange the pieces so that the mules miraculously break into a frenzied gallop!

Notes:
The mules do not overlap. There is a clever, but not deceptive solution to this puzzle.

### Trick Mules Puzzle Solution

This ambiguous "Trick Mules Puzzle" is solved by the realisation that the mule can have two different orientations. Here the same lines and contours have two interpretations, one horizontal and one vertical.