The write stuff

Published: 10th September 2016 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th September 2016 11:47 AM   |  A+A-

What’s the difference between a vegetable and a fruit? As a rule of thumb, if it’s sweetish, it’s probably a fruit and if it’s not, then prob vegie. This works okay till you learn that there’s another definition which happens to be a botanical one and it’s much more definitive. If the thingy has a seed or several of them inside, then it’s a fruit; if it doesn’t, then veg. With that total trivia in hand, have a nice five minutes figuring out what’s what you eat. Only remember that bananas have seeds and so do tomatoes and cucumbers.

And if your time’s up, then know that I’ve written my name in one cm letters with a pen without any other help than my naked hands. I can make the letters grow (but not the material on which they’re written) to two or even three cm and then make them decrease to their original size. Also, I can destroy the letters (without affecting the material where they are written) and then rejoin them without using any adhesive substance. If I’ve not written my name on sand, skin, a rubber balloon or any other ridiculous place, then where did I write it?



(The problem was: “A hydrogen balloon is rising skywards. Its potential energy is increasing and so is its kinetic energy. Something wrong here somewhere?”)

When a hydrogen balloon is rising up, it has its PE (potential energy) and KE (kinetic energy) coming from two different sources—the buoyancy of hydrogen with its PE and KE, and the mass of the balloon with its PE and KE. At ground level, it is at its maximum PE (regarding buoyancy) and at zero PE for its mass. When released, it will rise because it is lighter than air. As the balloon rises, there is a reduction in its buoyancy PE, which results in increase in its KE and at the same time, the PE of its mass also increases as the balloon gains altitude. In other words, the whole of the buoyancy PE converts into increase in both PE and KE as the balloon rises up. The law of conservation of energy still holds and is not violated. —Narayana Murty Karri,

(The Lewis Carroll problem was: “The Governor of Kgovjni wants to give a small dinner party and invites his father’s brother-in-law, his brother’s father-in-law, his father-in-law’s brother and his brother-in-laws father. Find the number of guests.”)

The governor must have been a real cheapskate. He invited just one lousy guest to dinner and what an inbreeding clan! The guest was the guv’nor’s father’s sister’s husband, whose daughter was spliced to the guv’s brother, whose brother’s daughter, the governor himself, walked the aisle with, whose son’s troth was plighted to the governor’s sister!—Dhruv Narayan,

You could call it bother-in-law or even farther-in-law, but ultimately the guest list works out to the four you had indicated unless the in-laws are related as it happens in certain societies where consanguineal marriages in which sisters daughters or brother-in-law’s daughters marry the son. —Gadepalli Subramanyam,

The minimum number of guests to invite is ONE. But being the governor, he need not be so miserly. Yet the family relationships are so intertwined, that only this answer can satisfy all the relationships.—P S Guruchandran,

(The third one was: “When Mike was twice as old as Judy was when Mike was three times as old as Judy was when Mike was as old as Judy is now, Judy was half as old as Mike was when Judy was half as old as Mike is now. If the ages are in whole years, how old are they now?”)

Let the current ages be M and J. The difference is M - J. After taking into account the given facts, Mike’s age works out to 14J - 8M. At the same time, Judy’s age, using the second half of the puzzle, turns out to be (3/4)M - (J/2). The difference in ages must be the same. We get 39M = 62J as the equation. The only whole number combination is 62 and 39. Mike and Judy are 62 and 39 years old respectively. —Saishankar Swaminathan,



1. Can a ball roll on ice in (ideally) zero friction conditions?

2. A cube is made of white material,

but its exterior is painted black. If the cube is cut into 64 smaller cubes of

exactly the same size, how many of the cubes will have at least two of their sides painted black?


— Sharma is a scriptwriterand former editor of Science Today magazine.(

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