Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #295: Lateral Thinking Puzzles, Anyone?
By Lilly Johns (LJohns315)

#1: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 6, 2011

Hi, anybody like lateral thinking puzzles? I love them! Not as much as Wpbn puzzles, of course, but still...
Okay here's one I got out of a book:
Three people were holding identical blocks of wood. They released the blocks at the same time. The blocks of wood were not attached to anything. The first person's block fell downward. The second person's block rose up. The third person's block stayed where it was, unsupported. What was going on?

Any guesses??
#2: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 6, 2011
The forum needs [HINT] and [SPOILER] tags...

The first is on earth, the second underwater and the third in orbit.
#3: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Jun 6, 2011
I think I know. Were at least two of them wearing anything for a specific activity? It would look unusual if they were in their street clothes.
#4: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 6, 2011
Joe is correct. That makes the answer to Brian's question: person 1 has normal clothes, person 2 has a swimsuit, and person 3 has a spacesuit.
Hey all, please post any lateral thinking puzzles you know.
#5: Gator (gator) on Jun 6, 2011
One of my favorites:

There are two glasses on a table, one containing water and the other one wine. They both contain exactly the same amount by volume. If you take a teaspoon of water and mix it into the wine and then take a teaspoonful from the wine glass and mix it in with the water, both glasses become contaminated. But which is more contaminated? Does the water now contain more wine than the wine does water or the other way around?
#6: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 6, 2011
I'd say the water gets more contaminated. The wine already contains water, but the water has only... water. Is this close?
#7: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Jun 6, 2011
Let's use metric. Even though it works with any amount
There are units 100ml of each.

Take out 10ml of water and put into wine. That leaves 90ml of 100% water and 110ml of 10/11ths wine.

Take out 10ml of 10/11ths wine and put in the water. There are now 100ml of 10/11 wine but what of the water?

That 10ml you put back is made up of 100/11ml wine and 10/11ml water. There are now 90ml of 11/11ths water or 990/11ml of water plus 10/11ml water put back in. or... 1000/11ml water. But there are 100/11ml wine! So that leaves a contamination of 1000/11ml water in 1100/11ml fluid. That is also 10/11ths so they are contaminated by the same amount.

If you try it with algebra symbols and no specific numbers it also works showing that it works for any case.
#8: Gator (gator) on Jun 7, 2011
Brian has it correct. I like this one because it can be broken down to pure math. :)

The easier way to think about this in a non-math way is to think about how much fluid is in the glasses BEFORE and then AFTER the transfer. As you have the same amount of fluid in the glasses after the transfer as you did before the transfer, then whatever amount of wine made it into water glass, the same amount of water has to be in the wine glass.
#9: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Jun 7, 2011
Gator, that is elegant. Thank you.
#10: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 7, 2011
I'm not really a math person. You two know a lot more.
Okay, here's a pretty easy puzzle:

Men found what they suspected was the tallest tree in Australia. It was growing in the outback in rough terrain and with other trees around. They did not have any advanced instruments with them. How did they accurately measure the height of the tree?
#11: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Jun 7, 2011
This reminds me of math classes. Take an smaller object (say a ruler), hold it upright, then measure its height and the length of its shadow.

Measure the distance from the base of the tree to the tip of its shadow (I imagine this is why you mentioned rough terrain and other trees), and the ratio between height and shadow will be the same as the ruler.

That, or you can ask a friendly kookaburra to fly one end of a rope to the top of the tree...
#12: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Jun 7, 2011
Or you could throw a rock upward the same height as the tree and count "kookaburra one, kookaburra two, kookabur" where each syllable is 1/5 of a second. Then use h=.5(g)(t^2) where g=9.8m/s^2 (or approx 10). In my example... 2.6 "kookaburras" squared is 6.76. multiplied by 9.8 is 66.2 and divided by 2 is 33.1 meters tall. If you can't throw that high, fashion a sling out of a piece of rope and cloth. Or if you happen to have a barometer...(physics joke)
#13: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 8, 2011
Lol, it's not that complex! Do you want any clues?
#14: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 8, 2011
One of the clues are: they did not use angles or shadows.
#15: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 8, 2011
Guaranteed to make the green cringe: They cut it down and measured it on the ground.
#16: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 8, 2011
That mad me think of this old chestnut:
A man and his son went out fishing. On their way home, their car is hit by a train, killing the father and severely injuring the boy. When he arrives in the hospital, the surgeon takes a look at him and recoils, saying "I can't operate on him -- he's my son!" How can this be?
#17: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 8, 2011
Yes, you're right, Joe.
I think I know the answer to your puzzle. Should I let others look at it before I post my guess?
#18: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 8, 2011
Jump right in!
#19: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 8, 2011
You mean go ahead and post it?
#20: Byrdie (byrdie) on Jun 8, 2011
The answer to Joe's puzzle is the surgeon is the boy's mother.

I was going to answer same as #15 on the tree puzzle and kick myself for not doing it when I thought of it last night.
#21: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 8, 2011
That's what I thought too (about the surgeon being the mother).
#22: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 8, 2011
Both puzzles depend on the guesser's prejudices.
Back in the '70s when I first heard the riddle I set, it wasn't unusual that no-one would think of the surgeon being a woman.

Today, yours has the better chance of being unanswered as it's become morally repugnant to even think of chopping down the largest tree.

It used to happen all the time. The largest elephant, the largest tiger, the largest.... All things that had been killed first.
#23: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 8, 2011
In a lighter vein...
An airplane full of refugees crashes on the Canadian-US border. Neither country has diplomatic relations with the country that the refugees are from. In which country would the survivors be buried if their home country won't take them back?
#24: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 8, 2011
Could it be any border, or does it have to be Canadian-US?
#25: bugaboo (bugaboo) on Jun 8, 2011
you dont bury the survivors (hopefully)
#26: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 8, 2011
Oh yeah, they crashed - so they can't be buried. Assuming the plane burned when it crashed.
#27: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 8, 2011
bugaboo has it. -- The survivors are the ones who survived. They'd be very surprised to get buried.
#28: bugaboo (bugaboo) on Jun 9, 2011
haha @ 26 (as i place my hand palm down a few inches over my head and move it front to back once)
#29: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 9, 2011
Mary's father had five daughters. The first four were named Ne-ne, Nu-nu, Ni-ni, and Na-na. What's the fifth daughter's name?
#30: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Jun 9, 2011
Mary. :)
#31: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 9, 2011
Right-o! :>
#32: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 10, 2011
Okay here's some questions with really silly answers designed to trick you:
1. When you see geese flying in a V formation, why is it that one leg of the V is always longer than the other?
2. Why are there so many Smiths in the telephone directory?
3. What is E.T. short for?
#33: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 10, 2011
1. ?
2. Because a lot of Smiths have phones.
3. Because his parents were short.
#34: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 10, 2011
The answer to 1 is: Because it has more geese in it.
You got number 2 right. The answer to 3 is: So that he can fit in the small spaceship. But, you basically got that one.
#35: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 10, 2011
1. Where do you find a no-legged dog?
2. Approximately how many house bricks does it take to complete a brick house in England?
3. How do stop a bull from charging?
#36: Kadou (Kadou) on Jun 10, 2011
1. In a hotdog bun.
2. How many house bricks does it take to screw in a lightbulb? :-/
3. Take away its credit card.
#37: Liz P (lizteach) on Jun 10, 2011
2. One house brick in "a brick house in England."
#38: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 10, 2011
Got the 3rd one. #1 is: exactly where you left him. #2 One! It takes many bricks to make a house, but only one to complete it.
#39: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 11, 2011
1. What cheese is made backwards?
2. Take away my first letter; I remain the same. Now take away my fourth letter; I remain the same. Now take away my last letter; I remain the same. What am I?
3. If a purple man threw a blue stone into the Red Sea, what would it become?
4. How do you make a bandstand?
#40: Byrdie (byrdie) on Jun 11, 2011
#4 take away their chairs.

How many flies does it take to screw in a light bulb?
#41: bugaboo (bugaboo) on Jun 11, 2011
#3 wet

byrdie the answer is 2 but i want to know how they got in the light bulb in the first place
#42: Kadou (Kadou) on Jun 11, 2011
2. A mailman?
#43: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 11, 2011
Yep, comments 40, 41, and 42. Does anybody have a guess for question 1?
#44: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 11, 2011
That's probably the hardest one.
#45: bugaboo (bugaboo) on Jun 11, 2011
"made" backward is "edam" for the cheese
#46: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 11, 2011
bugaboo -- that's a gouda thought.
#47: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 11, 2011
How'd you get that one, Bugaboo? I thought it was hard. :)
#48: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 11, 2011
What's the answer to your light bulb question, byrdie?
#49: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 12, 2011
A couple had a neighbor who continually arrived at mealtimes in the hope of getting a free meal. How did they use their very friendly dog to persuade the neighbor not to come for free meals again?
#50: bugaboo (bugaboo) on Jun 12, 2011
"The couple gave the neighbor a good meal, and when he finished, they gave his scrap-filled plate to the dog, who proceeded to lick it clean. They then put the plate straight back into the cupboard -- pretending that was their normal procedure. The neighbor did not come back for any more meals!"
#51: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 13, 2011
Bugaboo, your answer is word-for-word correct. Are you getting these online, or do you have the exact same book as I do?
#52: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 13, 2011
Try this one:
A man in a restaurant complained to the waiter that there was a fly in his cup of coffee. The waiter took the cup away and promised to bring a fresh cup of coffee. He returned a few moments later. The man tasted the coffee and complained that this was his original cup of coffee with the fly removed. He was correct, but how did he know?
#53: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Jun 13, 2011
He had sweetened his coffee.
#54: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 13, 2011
#55: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 13, 2011
Come on y'all! Anybody have any puzzles to share?
#56: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 13, 2011
If a truck wedges itself under a bridge, how do they get it out? There's actually a fairly easy way to do this if they haven't totally smashed into it.
#57: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Jun 13, 2011
Let the air out of the tires, if Superman isn't handy.
#58: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 13, 2011
Kristen got it. You can gain up to three inches by flattening truck tires.

This one's off a website, so no credit if you look it up:

One horrible rainy, cold night you're driving down a lonely road in your two-seater and you see three people waiting miserably at a bus stop.

They are
- an old woman clutching her chest who looks as if she's about to die,
- an old friend who once saved your life, and
- the perfect partner you've been dreaming about.

Knowing that there can only be one passenger in your car, who do you choose?

(Justify your answer)

#59: bugaboo (bugaboo) on Jun 13, 2011
i actually knew this one without looking it up

you loan your car to your friend who can take the old lady to the hospital and you catch the bus with your "perfect partner"
#60: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 14, 2011
Ok, now it's bugaboo's turn to post one. ;)
#61: bugaboo (bugaboo) on Jun 14, 2011


#62: Byrdie (byrdie) on Jun 14, 2011
@ Lilly - Bubaboo was on the right track. The answer is "two, but its hard to get them in there."
#63: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 14, 2011
Who went into the lion's den unarmed and came out alive?
#64: bugaboo (bugaboo) on Jun 14, 2011

but also the lion(s)

#65: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 14, 2011
#66: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 14, 2011
A circular field is covered in thick snow. A black cow with white spots is in the middle. Two white cows with black spots are on the edge of the field. What time is it?
Bugaboo, you always know the answer, so let some other people try first.
#67: Teresa K (fasstar) on Jun 14, 2011
Time to bring the cows in? It's cold out there in the snow.
#68: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 14, 2011
Lol, close.
#69: Sarah Andrews (sarah) on Jun 15, 2011
time to brush the snow off of the two white cows?
#70: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 15, 2011
It's wintertime. You both were on the right track though.
#71: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 15, 2011
Why did a man build a beautiful burial chamber, complete with sculptures and paintings, and then deliberately wreck it?
#72: Sarah Andrews (sarah) on Jun 16, 2011
re # 66, it's a cow sundial. j/k
#73: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 16, 2011
Lol, Sarah.
#74: Sarah Andrews (sarah) on Jun 17, 2011
Lilly, what's the answer to #71?
#75: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 17, 2011
Sarah: The answer is the man was building the burial chamber of an Egyptian pharaoh in ancient times. He built the real burial chamber deep inside a pyramid. He also built another burial chamber that was easier to find that he deliberately wrecked so that when any future graverobbers found it, they would think that earlier graverobbers had found the tomb and taken the treasure.
#76: Teresa K (fasstar) on Jun 17, 2011
How interesting.
#77: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 19, 2011
What can go from there to here by disappearing and then go from here to there by appearing?
#78: Gator (gator) on Jun 19, 2011
#79: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 19, 2011
#80: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 20, 2011
Two mothers and two daughters went shopping for new dresses for a wedding celebration.They each returned with a new dress, but they had only bought 3 dresses. How can this be correct?
#81: Gator (gator) on Jun 20, 2011
Grandmother (Mother 1), Mother (Mother 2, Daughter 1), Daughter (Daughter 2)
#82: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 20, 2011
You got it, Gator.
#83: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 24, 2011
A seventy year old man fell off a twelve foot ladder. But was quite unharmed. How was this so?
#84: Kadou (Kadou) on Jun 24, 2011
He was on the ladder's first step.
#85: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 24, 2011
#86: bugaboo (bugaboo) on Jun 24, 2011
it doesnt matter
he could still break a hip
#87: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Jun 25, 2011
I actually typed the exact same thing, but I didn't post it, because I thought it sounded callous. Seriously though, I injure myself all the time, by missing a single step. And I'm way younger than 70!
#88: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 25, 2011
Yeah, I guess people could still be injured by falling from the first rung. Not such a good puzzle.
#89: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 25, 2011
There are two doors. One has a new car of your choice inside and the other has a lion that will eat you if you open it. You must open one of the doors. They look exactly alike. Outside of the doors are two men. They are identical, but one ALWAYS tells the truth and the other ALWAYS lies. How can you figure out which is the good door and which is the bad by asking the men?
There is a way to do this by asking two questions and a way to do it by asking only one question.
#90: Byrdie (byrdie) on Jun 25, 2011
Ask one of the men if he is a man. If he always lies, he will say no. Based on the answer to that question you can determine if his answer to the question about the contents of his door is true or not.
#91: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 25, 2011
Right, byrdie. Does anybody know the one question solution?
#92: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 25, 2011
Ask either one what the other would answer to the question "Which door has the car?"

If you ask the liar, he will lie and say that the truthful one will say the lion's door.

If you ask the truthful one, he will tell the truth and say the liar will say the lion's door.

So either way, pick the other door.
#93: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 25, 2011
A man lives on the top floor of an apartment building. Every morning he takes the elevator down to the lobby and goes to work. Upon his return, however, he can only travel halfway up in the elevator and has to walk the rest of the way - unless it's raining. What is the explanation for this?
#94: Kadou (Kadou) on Jun 25, 2011
"Will the other man say this is the door to the lion?" If the answer is Yes then it's the door to the car. If the answer is No then the other door is the door to the car.

It's the same logic as in the movie "Labyrinth".
#95: Kadou (Kadou) on Jun 25, 2011
The man using the elevator is too short to reach the top button, unless he presses it with his umbrella.
#96: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 26, 2011
This one is kind of a silly one. There's no logical answer.
You are in a room with no door and no windows and no way of going out. There are two items in the room. A mirror and a table. To get out, you will use them both. How?
#97: Byrdie (byrdie) on Jun 26, 2011
You look in the mirror to see what you saw. You take the saw and cut the table in half. Two halves make a whole. You crawl through the hole and out of the room.

Works better spoken than written.

Reminds me of an old puzzle. What is the sentence in the english language that can be spoken but not written?
#98: Maggie Johns (Magginni) on Jun 26, 2011
Ok, here's one.... two men were very good friends, but hadn't seen each other in a long time. They met unexpectedly, and recognized each other, but did not speak. How come?
They were not mute.
They had no mental impairments.
They both spoke the same language.
#99: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 26, 2011
Martin: @#$%^ $%^&# (*%^$ #$%!! (Some of the seven forbidden words ;)

Maggie: two possibilities - they're undercover agents, - they're monks under vows of silence

OR they meet during a hurricane, or the front row of a rock concert...

Or they're in space with broken microphones... (TK427 why aren't you at your post?!)
#100: Teresa K (fasstar) on Jun 27, 2011
My first thought was that they were monks. I love it when people like Joe come up with so many other possible answers. :-)
#101: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 27, 2011
Yes! I love all his possibilities. Maggie isn't on so much, and probably won't check this topic very soon, so I'll tell you that the answer is that they were scuba diving. Joe's other solutions are perfectly valid too of course, but the scuba was the one Maggie heard of.
#102: Byrdie (byrdie) on Jun 27, 2011
Joe: those could be written, just wouldn't be polite to do so. (Had to go back and look. I forgot I had posted and thought I'd pissed someone off.)

"There are three (to,two,too)s in the English language." If you say it, everyone will understand. But to write it would be technically incorrect - there is only one of each of the words listed. Could also use (there,their,they're) and several others.
#103: Maggie Johns (Magginni) on Jun 29, 2011
Thank you for telling them the answer, Lilly. Most likely I would have never gotten to it.
#104: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Jun 29, 2011
Sure, Maggie. Have you got any more?
#105: Wesley Snyder (wsnyder98) on Jul 13, 2011
A man fell 60 feet out of a building and was completely unhurt. How?
#106: Kadou (Kadou) on Jul 13, 2011
He had a parachute?
#107: bugaboo (bugaboo) on Jul 13, 2011
he was cliff diving into water?
#108: Wesley Snyder (wsnyder98) on Jul 14, 2011
He fell from 70 feet.
#109: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Jul 14, 2011
Clever, Wesley.
#110: Maggie Johns (Magginni) on Aug 13, 2011
#104: not right now, maybe later something will pop into my head.
#111: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Aug 13, 2011
how do you crack an egg without touching it or doing anything to it?
#112: Teresa K (fasstar) on Aug 13, 2011
Leave the egg in the nest and it will hatch all by itself!
#113: Lilly Johns (LJohns315) on Aug 15, 2011
The solution I heard is to have somebody else crack it for you, but I like your answer better, Teresa. :)
#114: Bill Eisenmann (Bullet) on Jan 21, 2019
For a twist on #97: What sentence can never be truthfully spoken?






"I am not here"
or "I am not speaking."

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