Prospect Magazine - June 2010
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Enigmas & puzzles
Where there’s a will §¨© ª«¬®¨¯«
Lord Elpus had passed away, and his four children had gathered for the reading of the will at his executors’, the firm of Nicket, Grabbitt and Chargemore. Grabbitt, the senior partner, perched a pair of pince-nez on his nose and began to read.
Eventually he got to the important part, about dividing up His Lordship’s lands, which were a rather unusual shape:
Lord Elpus’s four children agreed that the division was fair. But just then, two dishevelled young men and a red-faced young woman barged into the o•ce.
“We are Lord Elpus’s secret fi™h, sixth, and seventh children!” one declared. “We demand our share of the estate!”
A™er the uproar had subsided, Nicket admitted that his Lordship had confided to him the existence of the other children— and that therefore the land would have to be divided between all seven of them. How should the estate be divided?
COMPETITION Prospect invites you to solve the puzzle and send us the solution. Correct answers will be entered into a draw. The winner will receive a copy of Numbers Rule: The Vexing Mathematics of Democracy from Plato to the Present by George G Szpiro (Princeton University Press, £18.95). Send your solution to email@example.com by 11th June. The winner will be announced in our July issue.
LAST MONTH’S ANSWER The area is 36 square cubits.
Divide the stars into four equal pieces:
“His Lordship has bequeathed an equal share in the land to each of his surviving children,” said Grabbitt. “He stipulates that it must be divided into connected regions, all exactly the same shape. However, the shapes can be rotated or reflected.”
“I have taken the liberty of proposing a method of division,” said Chargemore.
Then one circle and four such pieces fit together to make one square of the grid. Since the radius of the circle is 3 cubits, and a circle fits exactly inside a square, each square has a side of 6 cubits. So its area is 6x6 = 36 square cubits The winners are Rosie Bloxsom, Derek Hilton and Arthur Ma
Coming up in Prospect
AC Grayling on the life of Montaigne
Evgeny Morozov asks how stupid the internet is
Detroit: how to shrink a city
Tom Chatfield on the future of the author
JUNE · PROSPECT ·