In the early morning hours of Dec. 3, 2003, assistant U.S. attorney Jonathan Luna drove north out of Baltimore. At about 1 a.m. he withdrew $200 from an ATM in Newark, Del., and at 3:20 a.m. he bought gas at a Pennsylvania service plaza. At 4:04 he exited the Pennsylvania Turnpike with a bloodstained toll ticket.

At 5:30 a.m. his car was discovered in a stream behind a Pennsylvania well drilling company. Luna’s body was under the engine. He had been stabbed 36 times with his own penknife and drowned.

Despite a federal reward of $100,000, no one has ever explained what happened that night.

“Cutting the Cheese”

cutting the cheese

A puzzle from Henry Ernest Dudeney:

Here is a simple question that will require just a few moments’ thought to get an exact answer. I have a piece of cheese in the shape of a cube. How am I to cut it in two pieces with one straight cut of the knife so that the two new surfaces produced by the cut shall each be a perfect hexagon? Of course, if cut in the direction of the dotted line the surfaces would be squares. Now produce hexagons.

Click for Answer

Wrong Addressee

During a business trip in the late 1950s, George D. Bryson registered at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Ky., accepted the key to Room 307, and jokingly asked whether any letters had arrived for him.

He was confused to learn that there was indeed a letter for George D. Bryson in Room 307.

It wasn’t for him: The room’s previous occupant had also been named George D. Bryson.

Representing Rats


In the ecclesiastical courts of 16th-century France, lawyer Bartholomew de Chasseneux made his name by prosecuting the local vermin (“O snails, caterpillars, and other obscene creatures, which destroy the food of our neighbours, depart hence!”).

Impressed with his argument, the authorities in Autun asked him to advocate for the rats, which they put on trial in 1510 for eating the harvest of Burgundy.

That’s a tall order for even a master lawyer, but, amazingly, Chasseneux won the day:

In his defence, Chasseneux showed that the rats had not received formal notice; and, before proceeding with the case, he obtained a decision that all the priests of the afflicted parishes should announce an adjournment, and summon the defendants to appear on a fixed day.

At the adjourned trial, he complained that the delay accorded his clients had been too short to allow of their appearing, in consequence of the roads being infested with cats. Chasseneux made an able defence, and finally obtained a second adjournment. We believe that no verdict was given.

(From Sabine Baring-Gould, Curiosities of Olden Times, 1896)

Card Trick


Take … a common visiting-card, and bend down the two ends, and place it on a smooth table, as represented in the annexed diagram, and then ask any one to blow it over.

This seems easy enough; yet it is next door to an impossibility. Still, it is to be done by blowing sharply and not too hard on the table, about an inch from the card.

— Frank Bellew, The Art of Amusing, 1866