13 Omni-potent Puzzles from Scot Morris
Scot Morris edited its "Games" column for many years, and several spin-off books were later published. Scot has known Martin Gardner since 1964, and his column was very much in the same spirit as the latter when presenting riddles, bafflers, brainteasers, bar bets, and "gotchas"—not to mention short items with real mathematics and physics content.
To honor Martin's centennial, Scot has kindly allowed us to extract 13 fun puzzles from the first 13 (of 53) chapters in his first Omni Games (Owl/Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983) book. How lucky is that?
- Bookworm (page 2)
- Letter Line (page 2)
- Money Matters (page 3)
- Coins in Glasses (page 4)
- Count 'Em (page 7)
- Ant's Walk (page 9)
- Triangles (page 11)
- Order (page 16)
- "Eeny" Doesn't Count (page 16)
- The Clock Problem (page 19)
- Family Reunion (page 22)
- Tale of a Tub (page 22)
- How Many F's? (page 23)
Four volumes of Shakespeare's Collected Works sit on your bookshelf. Each book is exactly 2 1/3 inches thick. The pages in each book are 2 inches thick and covers are each 1/6 of an inch thick.
A bookworm with a taste for the classics starts eating at page 1 of Volume I and eats straight through to the last page of Volume IV. What is the distance the bookworm covers?
The first twenty-five letters of the alphabet are written out as shown — with
some letters above the line and some below. Where should the Z go: above the line
or below, and why?
A EF HI KLMN T VWXY
BCD G J OPQRS U
Ten coins are arranged as shown.
Can you move ust one coin to another position so that, when added up either horizontally or vertically, two rows of six coins each will be formed? (The problem is best solved with actual coins on a table.)
Place ten coins and three drinking glasses on the table.
The Challenge: Distribute all ten coins into the glasses so that each glass contains an odd number of coins.
True or false: "There is three errers in this sentence."
A subway train is approaching Times Square at 144 inches per second (ips). A man in one subway car walking forward at 36 ips, relative to the seats. He is eating a footlong hot dog, which is entering his mouth at the rate of 2 ips. An ant on the hot dog is running away from the man's mouth at one ips. How fast is the ant approaching Times Square?
Can you arrange six kitchen matches to form four equilateral triangles, all having sides that are one match long?
If you spelled out every number in English, you would find only one in which the letters are in alphabetical order. What's the number?
What four-letter English word ends in "eny"?
This problem is one of the best ones I know for starting arguments. You look at your clock at exactly 12 noon and notice that the big and little hands are exactly coincident with each other. How many more times, between now and midnight, will the hour and minute hands cross each other again?
Norman Pos tells of a gathering attended by a father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, cousins, nephew, niece, uncle, and aunt. All relationships are "within the group:" that is, saying that one person is a "son" implies that he the son of someone present at the gathering. What is the minimum number of persons who could be present at such a reunion?
A boy in a bathtub is sailing a plastic boat loaded with nuts and bolts. If he dumps all the cargo into the water, allowing the boat to float empty, will the water level in the tub rise, fall, or stay the same?
John Kirkland, of Santa Barbara, California, sent us a copy of the card that is reproduced below. Read the sentence carefully. How many times does the letter f occur? Count them once and once only.
FINISHED FILES ARE THE RE-
SULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIF-
IC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE
EXPERIENCE OF MANY YEARS
You could say we recommend it, highly.