By George Gamow, Marvin Stern

Publication through George Gamow, Marvin Stern

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Extra resources for Puzzle-math

Sample text

Those are exactly the answers I got from the physicists,” said the first speaker. “But, as a matter of fact, both answers are wrong. The water level in the lock went down. You see, according to Archimedes law, any floating object displaces a volume of water equal to its weight. Thus, since iron is much heavier than water, the volume of water which it displaces when it is afloat in the boat is much larger than the volume of that iron. However, when it is in the water at the bottom of the lock, iron displaces only the amount of water equal to its volume.

This situation lasted for a few minutes. Then Miss Atkinson, who was better educated than the other two, being a school teacher, suddenly realized that not only were the faces of the other two passengers smeared with soot but also that her own face must be. She took out a handkerchief and rubbed her face thoroughly from ear to ear and from fore-head to chin. An inspection of the handkerchief proved that her conclusion was correct, but how did she come to that conclusion? It was not too difficult, being based on a reasonable assumption by Miss Atkinson that her two co-travelers, while perhaps not as intelligent as she was, were, however, not complete morons.

If it worked out the way you thought, and you got more gin in the second glass than tonic in the first, you would have increased the total, amount of girt and decreased the total amount of tonic. ” THE BARGE IN THE LOCK “Getting back to sailing problems,” interposed another yachtsman, “here is a nice one for you. I have given it at different times to several physicists, and none of them has given a correct answer. A barge loaded with scrap iron was floating in a canal lock. For some unknown reason, the people on the barge started to throw scrap iron overboard and continued until the barge was entirely empty.