Jun 4, 2008

Life is Puzzles

From time to time in our life we are faced with puzzles, some of them even having achieved CULT status , by virtue of their difficulty level ,their commercial value , their importance or their uniqueness.
I am sure at least 10,000 people would have asked you this( however lame you might have thought it was even at that time) when you were a kid:
Let, x= 1,
then, x^2 = x
x^2 - 1 = x-1
(x-1)(x+1) = (x-1)
or x+1 = 1
or 2=1. How?

Then the classic waiter puzzle : 3 of you go to a restaurant and your bill comes out to be 27. So you pay the waiter 30 rupees(10 rupees each). But the manager finds a totaling mistake and says to the waiter that bill is 25 rupees and not 27 rupees. The smart ass waiter thinks how will they divide 5 rupees among them, so he keeps 2 rupees with himself and gives back 3 rupees. So effectively, all 3 of you have paid 9 rupees each , that makes it 9 * 3 = 27 rupees. 2 rupees are with the waiter , so it makes 27 + 2 = 29 rupees. You had initially paid 30 rupees , so where has 1 rupee disappeared?

And surely this one made me scratch my head:
You die and find yourself standing in front of 2 gates. 1 leads to hell and the other leads to heaven. There are 2 gatekeepers , 1 of them always speaks the truth and other one always speaks the lie. BUT the catch is you don't know which is which. You have to ask ONLY 1 question to ONLY 1 gatekeeper and find out which gate leads to heaven!

You grow up, and puzzles change.
Oh, who wouldn't have heard of the great puzzle which couldn't be solved for almost 400 years. I am talking about Fermat's Last Theorem : x^n + y^n = z^n is not possible for any integer n>2.
I remember watching Andrew Wiles explain his proof on Discovery Channel. I didn't understand a fuck but I still clapped.

And then our Calculus days , where again some people tried to prove that 2=1.
We know that,
x^2 = x+x+x+...... ( x times)
Differentiating both the sides w.r.t. x
2x = 1+1+1+...(x times)
or 2x =x
or 2=1!

There was a time when I was obsessed with Time Travel ; and obviously the paradoxes! What if I go back and kill myself! And then there was this amazing short story : All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein : " A woman undergoes a sex change, goes back in time and impregnates his previous self( girl) and is born as the offspring! So basically this guy is both his mother and father!!! And then there were others of himself too." Phew. You have to read it!

There are puzzles of seemingly great importance like how can universe expand all the time, or how does human consciousness work( which Roger Penrose tried to explain, and I tried to read)
Then there is a mind boggling question -WHAT is the meaning of LIFE - which Monty Python tried to explain or which KURT Vonnegut almost found an answer to : "We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."

Douglas Adams
found a mind boggling answer to some important question though - 42.

But there is one thing that has been puzzling me for so many years, and that is how come SPAIN has the best football squad in Europe , if not in the world and still it fails to win or even do well in any major tournament. And moreover WHY I keep supporting them.

PS: I'll be supporting Spain in EURO 2008. Italy, France & Germany should be the other 3 semi-finalists.


Anonymous said...

whats the answer to the gatekeeper puzzle? Am i dumb? :(

manan said...

No you are not dumb.You are anonymous.

You ask any one of them: " If I had asked the other gatekeeper which gate leads to heaven what would he say?"

If he says gate 1 , gate 2 leads to heaven.

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