Great Race Relations

Published: 04th April 2015 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th April 2015 10:37 AM   |  A+A-

Speaking of races, which we will in a moment, the tortoise and the hare met up again many moons later and decided to slug it out with their feet once more to finally decide who might have been the actual winner if one of them had not dozed off in a moment of overarching pride. Cheered by the other forest animals the two protagonists started off for the finish line together till the tortoise who had begun to lag far behind decided to take a short nap, secure in his knowledge of fairy tales that he had to be the ultimate winner no matter what. Sure, the hare won hands down, but what if his antagonist had not slumbered off in the meantime? Remember that was the hare’s excuse the last time! 

Which is why A, B, C, D and E also decide to run a race. Before the race, five predictions of the outcome are made: (1) ECBAD (as in A first, C second, etc), (2) DAECB, (3) DCBAE, (4) BDAEC, (5) DCBEA. No prediction was completely correct but two of them correctly predicted the placements of exactly two of the runners. The remaining three predictions were totally wrong. What was the actual outcome of the race?



(The problem was: “What three sports are played moving backwards? And, in which sport do the winners move backwards and the losers move forwards?” Note that high jump can’t be considered because although the jumper is on his or her back during the Fosbury flop, the movement is still forwards. And kabaddi doesn’t count as there’s no way to know who are the winners or losers till the end of a raider’s “outing”. Also, players move sideways.)

The three sports played moving backwards are: rappelling (down a rope), the backstroke (in swimming) and rowing (as a team sport). The sport in which the winners move backwards and the losers move forwards in tug of war. -- J Vaseekhar Manuel,

(The second problem was: “Divide silver, mercury, carbon, neon, tungsten, silicon, phosphorus, gold, xenon, zinc, manganese and bismuth into two groups of six, based on a common property that members of each group share with one another but not with any member(s) of the other group.” No one got it right because there was a trap in it and 90% fell into it by dividing the elements into metals and non-metals and then smirking and saying they found it so easy while coolly forgetting that mercury and bismuth are BOTH metals! For example:)

Silver, mercury, tungsten, gold, zinc and manganese are metallic elements while carbon, neon, silicon, phosphorus, xenon and bismuth are non-metallic. I had expected something more extraordinary. -- Saifuddin S F Khomosi,

Divide the elements into two groups: group A metals and group B non-metals. Thus we have group A: silver, tungsten, gold, zinc, manganese and bismuth and group B: mercury, carbon, neon, silicon, phosphorus and xenon. -- Shashi Shekher Thakur,

(The correct and “more extraordinary” answer is that one group consists of those elements that can be spelt using the actual symbols of elements. Thus carbon, phosphorus, neon, xenon, bismuth and silicon can be written as C-Ar-B-O-N -- standing for carbon-argon-boron-oxygen-nitrogen -- P-H-Os-P-H-O-Ru-S, Ne-O-N, Xe-N-O-N, Bi-Sm-U-Th and Si-Li-Co-N. The same thing can’t be done for silver, mercury, tungsten, gold, zinc and manganese. Meanwhile the final problem was: “What’s the next term in the following series: 1, 11, 21, 1211, 111221, ?”)

Each successive term is formed by reading out the previous term (by saying aloud the frequency and the number) and writing it in numbers. The first number is 1. We read it as ONE ONE. The second term is 11. We read the second term as TWO ONEs. So the third term is 21. We read it as ONE TWO and ONE ONE. The fourth term is 1211, etc. Therefore the next term is 312211. -- Saikrishna S,

(Among the first five who also got it correct are: Ramakrishna Bhogadi,; Jayaraman,; Alan D’Souza,; Diwakar,; R Viswanathan,



1. A chicken farmer also has some cows for a total of 30 animals, and the animals have 74 legs in all. How many chickens does the farmer have?

2. Why are mountain-tops cold, considering the solar heat per unit area on a mountain is about the same as at sea level?

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



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