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January 12, 2005

Another Math Puzzler

What is this? The Corner? (I wish.)

Okay, since that last puzzle got so many responses, let me offer another one.

I will caveat this first: This one is pretty easy. The real math-heads here are going to laugh at this one. This is really a middle-school sort of problem... but then, a lot of you have probably forgotten all math past middle-school.

And it bothered me a lot when I heard it as a kid. So here we go:

Three men walk into a hotel. They ask how much it will be to share a room. They're told it's thirty dollars. (Umm... it's a crap hotel. In Honduras. Okay?)

So each man ponies up ten dollars to the concierge and then goes up to the room.

After taking the money, the concierge realizes that he's over-charged the men-- it's the weekend, and the rate for a single room should be twenty five dollars. So he summons the bellboy, gives him five singles, and tells him to deliver the men their refund.

Well, as the bellboy's going up the stairs, he realizes that five dollars is going to be hard to divide between three people. So he decides he'll just tell the men the actual rate was $27, give the men each a single dollar back, and pocket $2 as his reward for helping the men avoid a lot of squabbling over who's going to get shorted on the refund.

And that's what he does.

Now, each man paid nine dollars for the room. Three times nine is twenty seven, and there's two more dollars in the bellboy's pocket.

27 plus two more in the bellboy's pocket equals twenty-nine dollars total. But they paid $30 originally. Where did the dollar go?

Hint: Actually, I guess this isn't so much a math problem as flim-flam problem.

A Non-Math Puzzle: In your basement you have a light. There are three light-switches on your first floor, one of which turns on that light, but you don't know which. (The other two are dead switches which no longer operate anything in the house.)

You cannot see the light from the first floor of your house.

How can you tell which switch controls the light by making only a single trip down to the basement to check the light?

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posted by Ace at 12:22 AM

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