Challenge Questions

Stop in and exercise your brain. Talk about this month's Challenge from Specs & Techs or similar puzzles.

So do you have a Challenge Question that could stump the community? Then submit the question with the "correct" answer and we'll post it. If it's really good, we may even roll it up to Specs & Techs. You'll be famous!

Answers to Challenge Questions appear by the last Tuesday of the month.

Pirates Divvy Up the Booty (August '22 Challenge Question)

Posted July 31, 2022 12:00 AM
Pathfinder Tags: challenge question

You yourself have joined Anne, Charles, Billy and John from last month's adventure.

Pirates are notoriously bloodthirsty and greedy, and this group pirates are all extremely logical. You have 100 gold coins to share as a group.

Here are the rules for splitting the booty:

The oldest pirate proposes a division of gold coins.

  • If at least half of the crew votes in favor, coins are split and everyone is happy
  • If the vote fails, the crew kills the oldest pirate and the next-oldest pirate makes a new proposal with the same rules.

The proposal process continues until one is accepted. Individuals are allowed to make voting blocs.

As the oldest pirate, how many gold coins do you walk away with? Please explain.

7 comments; last comment on 08/01/2022
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Pirates and a Rope Bridge (July '22 Challenge Question)

Posted June 30, 2022 12:00 AM
Pathfinder Tags: challenge question

Anne, Charles, Billy and John need to cross an old rope bridge at night to escape buccaneers.

The bridge can only hold two people at once. There is only one torch between them, which they must share to safely walk across.

Anne can cross the bridge in one minute. Charles in two minutes. Billy is carrying a bag of gold and needs 5 minutes to cross. John has a pegleg – he needs 10 minutes.

How quickly can the group cross the bridge and continue altogether?

ANSWER (posted 7/14)

You are only permitted to work within the information provided.

  • 2 people per bridge crossing, at maximum.
  • The torch needs to be shared to cross safely.
  • Individuals have a predetermined crossing speed.
  1. Anne & Charles cross bridge (2 minutes)
  2. Anne returns torch to Billy & John (1 minute)
  3. Billy & John cross (10 minutes)
  4. Charles returns torch to Anne (2 minutes)
  5. Anne & Charles cross again (2 minutes)

Elapsed time on the quickest crossing possible is 17 minutes.

82 comments; last comment on 07/13/2022
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Choices and Coins (June 2022 challenge question)

Posted May 31, 2022 12:00 AM
Pathfinder Tags: challenge question

You and a friend decide to play a novel game, wherein each of you has one giant bucket of quarters and a large, rectangular table. The rules of this game are as follows.

1. Each player takes a turn placing one quarter on the table. You cannot skip or cede a turn.

2. Quarters can touch sides, but can never overlap. Quarters cannot stand on their edge, or overhang the table edge.

3. The loser of this game is the first person who cannot place a quarter without a creating an overlap. The winner is the last person to successfully place a quarter, per the rules.

What strategy would you use to ensure you win the game?

(In theory, at least, the type of coin and size of table doesn't matter.)

9 comments; last comment on 06/20/2022
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Beer Can Blueprints (May '22 Challenge Question)

Posted April 30, 2022 12:00 AM
Pathfinder Tags: challenge question

What are the practical reasons to have concave and beveled bottoms on beer cans? (Okay, so it applies to soda pop cans too.)

The image is of a flat-bottomed beer can, for reference.

26 comments; last comment on 05/23/2022
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A Spicy, Open-Ended Design Solution (April '22 Challenge Question)

Posted March 31, 2022 12:00 AM
Pathfinder Tags: challenge question

This month's question is a bit different. Rather than a single specific answer, or set of answers, this one challenges your critical thinking.

You have been hired as a lead designer for a kitchen equipment manufacturer.

Your first task is to design a spice rack for blind people. The end user must be confident that they are getting the correct spice and measurement each time.

What are the design considerations? And is there anything notable about the manufacturing?

[Click here to participate on Facebook.]

14 comments; last comment on 04/22/2022
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