Try Another Day

Published: 26th April 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th April 2015 12:48 AM   |  A+A-

You guys (and that obviously includes the girls too) are really something. Take for instance the chicken farmer and number of legs problem. I literally got four score and more answers of which only a few have been run here and -- get this -- most of them were prefixed by “Oh this is a baby problem” or “It’s just too easy” or “Any eighth grader can solve it”, etc. The same goes for the cricket hat-trick puzzle sent in by a reader. Tons of emails came e-hailing on my head. Meaning, I get it, I get it; these are such easy peasy problems that the huge hatchet in your heads can hammer out solutions in yocktoseconds (look it up) or less.

But when it comes to the ostensibly tough ones, the ones you look over the horizon so you don’t have to face them, I get almost zilch answers. For example consider this problem that was run recently: “A perfect sphere made entirely of chalk, rolls on a uniform flat surface at a constant speed. The chalk is transferred from the sphere to the surface at a uniform rate. If the sphere rolls in a straight line until there is nothing left of it to roll, approximately what shape will be seen on the flat surface?”

So far I’ve got two and a half solutions of which one’s wrong, one’s sort of right and half a bit of both. Anyone wants to attempt it again or do we go back to pre-Montessori days once more? 



(The problem was: “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?”)

I know it is stupid but you mention the number of animals as 30. Chickens are birds, so I guess the answer can be easily found even though some cows may be missing a leg. -- Harishanker Menon, (Sorry HM but chickens, like snails, salmons, salamanders and sapient humans, are also animals. Maybe not all mammals, but definitely animals. -- MS)

A simple equation of algebra: 2x + 4(30 - x) = 74 gives the straight answer. The chicken farmer being human is not counted. (He/she is; see above -- MS) -- Abhay Prakash,

(Among other five early birders who also got it correct are: Advaithram Ravichandran,; Tholeti Chandrashekhar,; Radhakanta Pradhan,; Al Shahin,; Abhishek Narayan,

(The second problem was: “A bowler takes three wickets in three different overs but it’s still a hat trick -- how? Though it sounds like a puzzle, it’s actually happened in test cricket!”)

Merv Hughes did this. He took a wicket in the last ball of one over. He took his second wicket (and the opposition’s last wicket) on the first ball of his next over. He took the third wicket on the first ball of the next innings. Not only was this hat-trick spread over a span of three overs but it was also over a span of two innings and two days. -- R S Vishal,

I have not Googled this answer but it could have happened in (yet another) way. The bowler takes a wicket in the last ball of an over -- that’s wicket #1. In the first ball of his next over, he gets another wicket -- wicket #2. He then gets injured. Another bowler completes the over by bowling the remaining five balls of that over. On his return, he gets a wicket off the first ball he bowls of his third over -- that’s wicket #3. -- T S Sanath Kumar,

(The third question was: “If you rapidly unroll Sellotape in a dark room, you can see a brief glow along the line where the tape is being spun from the roll. Why?”)

The glow is due to static electricity. When two materials pressed together are quickly separated, there is a flow of electrons from one material to the other and this static electricity produces the spark. -- J Vaseekhar Manuel,

This discovery has also caught the attention of some physicists who think one day it may lead to cheap, portable radiography machines. -- Saifuddin S F Khomosi,



 1. A sundial has the fewest moving parts of any timepiece. Which has the most?

 2.What is unusual about the following words: revive, banana, grammar, voodoo, assess, potato, dresser and uneven?

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



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