[Math Lair] Lateral Thinking Puzzles #5

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Lateral Thinking Puzzles on Math Lair:
Puzzles: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5.
Hints: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5.
Answers: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5.

Here are some more lateral thinking puzzles:

  1. Bill is driving the wrong way down a highway, at 100 kilometers per hour above the speed limit. Several police officers nearby notice Bill; however, while they are not occupied with more pressing business, they make no attempt to stop, ticket, or arrest Bill. Why?
  2. "Here is an unusual item, Bob," said Charlie, looking up from reading a newspaper. "It says here that three of the first five presidents of the United States died on July 4. I wonder what the odds are against that sort of coincidence."

    "I don't know," replied Bob, "but I'm willing to give ten-to-one odds that I can name one of the three that died on that date."

    Assuming that Bob knows the names of the first five presidents of the United States but has no knowledge of the dates on which any of the first five presidents died, was he justified in offering such odds? If so, why?

  3. At the Philanthropic Club, Mr. Rich mentioned that in the current charity campaign, he had pledged to match the total of all other contributions. Upon hearing this, Mr. Lucre fainted. Can you guess why?
  4. "I believe you are unfamiliar with the penal system in our country," said the warden, as he escorted the new prisoner to his cell. "We find that it improves morale for each prisoner to have a chance to end his sentence at any time. In your case, we have set up a combination lock on the door of your cell. There are ten dials, on which you can set up any ten-digit number. If you set up the right one, the cell door will unlock and you will be free to leave."

    "I see," said the prisoner. "Then if I try every possible number, I'm sure to hit the right one."

    "True," said the warden, "but even if you were able to change the numbers at the rate of one per second without resting, it would take you a hundred years to hit the right combination. However, you could try numbers at random and have a chance of choosing the right one. Or, you could look for the clue that we always provide."

    "What sort of clue?"

    "It could be just about anything. For example, once a prisoner was put in an escape-proof cell and told that he would be pardoned if he could break out. He was also given permission to keep any plants he wished in his cell."

    "What happened to him?"

    The warden laughed. "After over two years, he finally realized that some words may have more than one meaning. He requested a poison ivy plant. Soon after receiving it, he broke out—in a rash. Of course, he then received his pardon."

    The warden unlocked the cell and ushered the prisoner in. "Your cell contains a calculator, pencils, and paper. Good luck."

    Left alone, the prisoner tried a few combinations on the lock without success. What could the clue be? A thought struck him. It seemed worth a try. He made a few calculations, and then set up a number on the lock. The cell door opened and the prisoner went out, after serving less than half an hour of his sentence. What was the clue?

  5. Terry Price and his wife Norah were strolling through Goudies Department Store. Norah stopped for a few minutes to browse through the women's hat section, only to then discover that she had become separated from her husband. She was about to look for him, when she remembered Terry telling her once that he had demonstrated that if two people are trying to find each other, it is more efficient if one stands still than if both search. She was fine with that and decided to remain among the hats until her husband found her. However, even assuming that what she remembered about search efficiency was correct, her strategy turned out to be unwise. Why?
  6. A woman walks into a grocery store and buys a jar of salsa. She pays for it with a $20 bill and receives $21 in change. Yet, the store clerk gave the correct change. How could this occur?
  7. A man arrives at his home, turns off all the lights, and goes to bed. As a result, several hundred people are dead by morning. Why?
  8. Two people in the United States are talking on the phone. Jeff is located in a state on the Atlantic Ocean, and Lucas is located in a state on the Pacific Ocean. Lucas asks Jeff what the local time is where he is, and Jeff tells him. Lucas then says, "That's odd; it's the exact same time here!" How could this be?
  9. Connect the nine dots in the diagram below using only four lines:
    diagram for question 9
  10. In New York City, two men were seen violently quarrelling on a fifth-floor balcony. A large crowd had gathered below, watching the scene. Then, one man grabbed the other's legs and threw him to the ground below. The victim hit the street with great force and died from blunt force trauma. It was homicide. However, it was not the person who threw the man to the ground who was charged, but one of the onlookers. Why?

The answers can be found at Lateral Thinking Puzzles #5 Answers. Need a hint?

If you enjoyed these puzzles, there are four other pages of lateral thinking puzzles on this site: See lateral thinking puzzles page 1, page 2, page 3, and page 4.