puzzles

Don’t Walk

I have always been staunchly pro-pedestrian. But earlier this week when the city installed audible walk signals in the intersection outside my house, there was a problem: they were loud. At least the westward-facing one aimed our way. Seven shrill chirps every 90 seconds, like a partial cycle of a 1980s car alarm. Not quite as […]

Middle School Math Puzzle

Since there are middle school math parents and magazine editors among the core readership of this blog, I thought this might be interesting. Keenan recently had a whole page of trapezoid area problems. Depending on how you approach it, you can get different answers, which I thought was a bit unfair. I’ll explain what I’m […]

Traffic cone: important new findings

During Bernie and Isa’s visit this weekend, Bernie and I took a stroll through the neighborhood that took us past the now well-known traffic cone. Close inspection revealed that the cone was, at one time, the property of St. Peter’s Hospital, a half-mile to the east. While we now know that the cone was not […]

Isa’s Riddle

Isa said to me, “Name a word that is both of two things, and yet also neither of the two things at the same time.”“I give up,” I replied.“Brunch,” she said, “It’s both breakfast and lunch, yet it is neither as well.” “Well, in that case,” I said, “My new answer is spork. Not a […]

Four Card Puzzle

‘Cause it’s been awhile since we’ve had a good puzzle. You’re sitting at a table with four playing cards on it. Two are face up and two are face down. You see an 8, a King, a red-backed card, and a blue-backed card. You’re told that all the Kings in front of you have red […]

Simplify This

    (a+x)(b-x)(c+x)(d-x) … (z-x) “Simplify” means that the solution can be written using fewer characters than the problem itself uses.

factor this

x^4 – 11x^2 + 1 First prize is an Amazon gift certificate for one hundred dollars, decreasing in value by one dollar for each minute the problem remains unsolved. If it takes more than one hour forty minutes, you owe me money.

The Locker Puzzle

This is my favorite puzzle. A hallway in a school has 100 lockers. A student runs down the hall and opens every locker. A second student runs down the hall and closes every other locker, starting at the second. A third student runs down the hall and “flips” every third locker, starting at the third […]