In a Word

n. the amount a container lacks of being full

Given a 5-gallon jug, a 3-gallon jug, and a limitless supply of water, how can you measure out exactly 4 gallons?

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The Cherries Puzzle

ozanam cherries puzzle

A classic puzzle from Jacques Ozanam’s Recreations Mathematiques et Physiques, 1723. Two slits (CD) and two holes (EF) are cut in a slip of paper, and a cherry stem is suspended as shown. The cherries are too large to fit through the holes. How can you free the stem and its cherries intact from the slip?

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Cross Purposes

Three men, A, B, and C, are given a test in quick thinking. Each man’s forehead is marked with either a blue or a white cross, and they’re put into an empty room. None of the three can see the color of his own cross, and they aren’t allowed to communicate in any way. Each is told that he can leave the room if he either sees two white crosses or can correctly deduce the color of his own cross.

The men know each other well, and A knows he’s just a bit more alert than the others. He sees that both B and C have blue crosses, and after a moment’s thought he’s able to leave the room, having correctly named the color of his own cross. What was the color, and how did he deduce it?

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77777 …

A curious puzzle from the Penguin Problems Book, 1940:

A certain number consisting entirely of 7s is divisible by 199. Find the last four digits of the quotient, without finding the entire quotient.

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A Hat Puzzle

khovanova hats

A puzzle by MIT mathematician Tanya Khovanova:

Three logicians walk into a bar. Each is wearing a hat that’s either red or blue. Each logician knows that the hats were drawn from a set of three red and two blue hats; she doesn’t know the color of her own hat but can see those of her companions.

The waiter asks, “Do you know the color of your own hat?”

The first logician answers, “I do not know.”

The second logician answers, “I do not know.”

The third logician answers, “Yes.”

What is the color of the third logician’s hat?

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A Mathless Math Puzzle

hess bug puzzle

Richard Hess posed this problem in the Spring 1980 issue of Pi Mu Epsilon Journal. At noon on Monday, a bug departs the upper left corner, X, of a p × q rectangle and crawls within the rectangle to the diagonally opposite corner, Y, arriving there at 6 p.m. He sleeps there until noon on Tuesday, when he sets out again for X, crawling along another path within the rectangle and reaching X at 6 p.m. Prove that at some time on Tuesday the bug was no farther than p from his location at the same time on Monday.

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