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April Quiz

Puzzles for brain training



They say — someone says — eating blueberries, salmon and avocados is good for the brain. So is solving puzzles. Here's your annual IQ-increasing set of teasers. Nothing too difficult, a couple of trick ones thrown in. (See the answers below.)

1. What's the connection between the Basque language and the name of our county?

2. A man is lying dead in a field. Next to him there is an unopened package. There is no sign of anyone else having been there. How did he die?

3. This shouldn't take more than a minute. Write down the sequence of years thus: 0123456789101112 ... 20172018, taking one second per numeral. How long will it take, in minutes?

4. In heaven, everyone's naked. How can you recognize Adam and Eve?

5. How long does it take light from the nearest star to reach Earth?

6. Answer this question with "yes" or "no": Will your next word be "no"?

7. I have three boxes, each with two compartments (see figure 1). One box has two gold bars, one has two silver bars and the third has one of each. You open one compartment at random and see a gold bar. What are the odds that the second compartment in that box also has a gold bar?

8. What's the next word in the series: bun, flu, lee, pour, jive, flix, Devon, fate, ... (Pick from main, sign, elven and fever.)

9. Assume the Earth is a perfect sphere. Pull a length of string tight around the equator. Now increase the length of the string by one yard (3 feet) and arrange it so it is at a uniform height above the equator. Will the gap between the string and the Earth allow the passage of a knifeblade, a cat, a go-kart or a truck?

10. Two concentric circles, with a 5-inch horizontal line drawn tangentially from the inner circle to the outer circle [see figure 2]. What's the area of the blue ring?

11. A man turned off the light at midnight and went to bed. The next morning, after hearing the news on the radio, he shot himself. What was his profession?

12. What is curious about this sentence? "Madame, not one man is selfless. I name not one, madam."

Answers to April Quiz

1. Our county is named for the Prussian polymath Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859). His younger brother Wilhelm was the first linguist to study the Basque (Euskara) language, which is unrelated to any other.

2. By falling from a great height. The package is his unopened parachute.

3. 116. Assume each year is 4 digits long, then subtract shorter ones, i. e. 4 x 2018 - 1000 (for 0 to 999) - 100 (for 0 to 99) - 10 (0 to 9) = 8072 - 1111 = 6961 seconds = about 116 minutes.

4. They're the only ones without navels.

5. Eight minutes. (The sun is the closest star. Second closest is Proxima Centauri, 4.22 light years away.)

6. You're on your own with this one!

7. Most people choose 1 in 2, since two boxes have gold bars and one of those has two gold bars. Actually it's 2 in 3, because you could have picked any of three gold bars, and two of those have a gold bar in the other compartment. Sometimes called "Bertrand's Box Paradox," this is similar to the Monty Hall Puzzle ("The Monty Hall Problem," Jan. 15, 2010).

8. Sign (rhymes with nine).

9. Cat. It makes no difference what the circumference of the sphere is — it can be a ping pong ball or the sun. The added radius will always be the added string length divided by 2π, in this case about 6 inches.

10. 25π square inches. (See figure 2.) Create a right-angle triangle as shown, labeling the radii of the big and small circle R and r respectively, so that R2 - r2 = 25 (Pythagoras). The area of the blue ring is the area of the large circle (πR2) less the area of the small circle (πr2). Curiously, you don't need to know the radii of the circles — the small circle can be Earth's equator, and the area of the ring will still be 25π square inches!

11. Lighthouse keeper. He heard that a ship was wrecked after he turned off the light.

12. It's a palindrome.

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