Problem is to Solve

Published: 01st June 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st June 2014 08:16 AM   |  A+A-

.....hear, hear!

The problem that no one got even though (a) I ran it twice over a period of many weeks, (b) gave big fat hints, and (c) told you you could cheat shamelessly. The problem was: “If you’re flying in an aeroplane at night and happen to see the reflection of the full moon in a large river like the Ganges below, you’ll find the reflection’s so big that it no longer fits into the width of the river. Why?” And the answer is: Since the height of the plane is negligible compared to the distance of the moon, the moon’s image will appear to have the same size from the ground and the plane. However, the width of the river will definitely appear to shrink as we go up. Hence there will come a point above which the river will appear narrower than the reflected moon.

Okay moving on to analogies now. You know how it works, right? Here’s an example: NOSE is to SMELL as EAR is to? . . . and the answer is HEAR. Here are eight more in increasing order of difficulty. If you get even four right send it in. HEEL is to ACHILLES as BOX is to?; NIGHT is to DAY as NOCTURNAL is to?; TEETH is to HEN as NEST is to?; 60 is to 59 as NEO is to?; SEA is to LITTORAL as RIVER is to?; CIVIL is to PAPAL as AMBASSADOR is to?; LENIN is to PSEUDONYMOUS as LENINGRAD is to?; RUTHLESS is to MYRMIDON as IMITATIVE is to?


The first puzzle concerned two famous fast gunmen of the Wild West who faced a probability problem during a shootout contest.

The probability of Morgan Earp equalling OR bettering Bat Masterson’s record is 0.14453125. So was Bat right in arguing that he was better? He would have been right 219 times out of 256. I’d say he was darn right considering how negligible the ratio of him being wrong to him being right is. (A very bad 0.16894977). -- Sarvesh C K,

The second problem was: “How to get 1/3 litre water out of a flat rectangular straight-sided pan four units long, three units broad and one unit deep holding exactly one litre of water, with no other means of measuring except a level surface kitchen table.”

Tilt the pan and fill water such that it forms a straight line edge along the diagonal of the base. This produces a right triangular pyramid. The volume is 1/6 lbh so repeat this twice to get 1/3rd. Hope fully you have a bowl to transfer else it might need more complicated tilts. -- Subramanian C  A,

And the third one was simple: “What’s the next most appropriate word in this series: AID, NATURE, WORLD, ESTATE, COLUMN, SENSE, ?”

The answer is: FIRST aid, SECOND nature, THIRD world, FOURTH estate, FIFTH column, SIXTH sense . . . giving us, SEVENTH CLOUD? – Dr  V N Parameshwaran, (Good try Doc but not quite as the following will highlight -- MS)

The logic is using the ordinals in sequence, hence: FIRST Aid, SECOND Nature, THIRD World, FOURTH Estate, FIFTH Column, SIXTH Sense. The next would therefore be SEVENTH HEAVEN or SEVENTH ART (cinema). -- Hema Parthasarathy,

Eighth silly problem. After FIRST Aid, SECOND Nature, THIRD World, FOURTH  Estate, FIFTH Column, SIXTH Sense comes SEVENTH HEAVEN. And regarding the number of colours needed for dough nut -- it is seven too. Persons familiar with topology know it and anyone who can Google can find it. (Perhaps the problems in endgame should have some spark and fire but not drab with the only skill required being just to hit the search button). -- A V Ramana Rao,

(Firstly AVRR half the problems at the end are usually reader submissions and not mine; and secondly how come you didn’t attempt the two un-drab puzzles I set right in the beginning. Is it because they can’t be Googled? -- MS)

Four others who also got it right were: Seshadri Nathan Krishnan,; Ramakrishna Bhogadi,; Seshagiri Row Karry,; Narayana Murty Karri,


1. What comes next in the series 10, 9, 60, 90, 70, 66 . . . ? -- Zaid Bankapur,

2. In my garden I have two posts, one five feet high and the other seven feet high. I tie a clothesline from the top of each post to the base of the other. What is the height from the ground where the two clotheslines cross?

— Sharma is a scriptwriter and former editor of Science Today magazine.


Stay up to date on all the latest Voices news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp