My New Favourite Brainteaser

I just had my mind blown by the most diabolical brainteaser. At first glance it seems impossible to figure out, but there is actually a fairly logical way to solve it. I wish I could say that I solved it, but I have to admit to giving up.  Here it is:

Two mathematicians are at the pub having a beer and a yarn. One of them says “Hey, I bet you $5 you can’t work out the ages of my three daughters.”
The other one says “Is that so? I’ll take your bet.”
“Okay, so the product of their ages is 72. The sum of their ages is the same as the number of the house across the street.”
The second mathematician thinks about it for a moment, then says “You haven’t given me enough information to solve the riddle.”
“Okay, my eldest daughter loves chocolate.”
The second mathematician says “Too easy”, gives the answer and takes his $5.

How old are the daughters?

Is your password really secure?

Having worked in IT for many years, I thought I had a good handle on how to create a secure password. My passwords didn’t use dictionary words, I used mixed case, numbers and symbols. Of course, they were damn difficult to remember, so I ended up using words and substituting numbers and symbols into them.

Well, it turns out that doing that probably made my passwords easier to crack. How could that be? Well password cracking tools are pretty sophisticated these days, and they automatically try common letter/number substitutions (like replacing an “o” with a zero). A while back I found an xkcd comic that explained exactly how easy such passwords are for computers to crack. Continue reading “Is your password really secure?”

Self-Working Card Tricks

The first card trick I ever learned was a pretty simple one that required no sleight of hand, and worked if you could follow the simple instructions. It used 21 cards, and allowed you to identify a chosen card. The trick is simple, get the volunteer to select a card, and place it back into the packet of 21 cards. You then deal the cards into 3 piles, asking the volunteer to note which pile their card is in. Place that pile in between the other piles and repeat two more times. After that their card will be in the middle of the middle pile, allowing you to reveal it in whichever way you feel works best.

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The Lie Detector

I’ve mentioned the first “real” magic trick that I learned was entitled Lie Detector, and it uses the Si Stebbins stack. I don’t even know if I still have the written instructions I bought nearly 25 years ago, or if they’ve been turfed in one clean out or another. Fortunately I have this trick well and truly committed to memory, and I’ve not needed to refer to the instructions for quite a few years.

The Trick:

The way it works is you get a volunteer to cut the deck, then take a card from anywhere in the deck and show it to everyone else (assuming there are others watching, of course). You then tell them that you’re going to ask them 3 questions about their card, and that they can choose to answer truthfully, or lie.

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It’s a Kind of Magic…

I’ve always had a bit of an interest in magic tricks and sleight of hand, mostly thanks to my Grandfather. Pop would often amuse me with simple magic tricks, like making coins disappear and then pulling them out of my ear. I never really bothered learning much, myself though. So, when I saw a magic shop while walking through a mall in Canada, I was intrigued, and checked it out.

Continue reading “It’s a Kind of Magic…”