5 09 2008

As an extension of my post regarding whether I’ll be good at computer programming, plus a random search for books on Archimedes and 10 hours to kill a week reading on the bus, I ended up wandering the library’s psychology section skimming books on IQ in a search for.. well, something to cure my boredom that doesn’t lead to banging my head against the desk like my trigonometric integration by parts homework. I didn’t find anything surprising, especially since I’ve taken psychology before and actually payed attention that chapter.

One of my readings is a book entitled, “Archimedes Bathtub” by David Perkins. The book is all about what it calls breakthrough thinking, the way great strides are made in science and engineering by seemingly lucky analogies or out of the box thinking. It uses riddles for a main example, most of which if someone can’t solve within 2 minutes, they never will. There is no logical way to work through these problems most of the time, they simply require that mental snap that makes you go, “Eureka! Why didn’t I see that before?”. Slightly dry reading, and I’m still no good at the riddles… I tend to like my own answers better than that of the riddle maker’s anyway. For example,

A clock that chimes the hours and quarter hours (one chime each quarter hour) struck 27 times in 61 minutes. Yet there was nothing wrong with the clock, and all that happened in a natural and appropiate wat. How could that be?

Well, lets see, if the time frame was between 11 and 12, that would be 26 chimes. Hmm, maybe it counts an extra chime on the hour because it’s also a quarter hour? No, that doesn’t work. It needs to strike 12 twice, but that can’t be done in 61 minutes, right? Maybe the person hearing the chimes heard an echo? No, 27 is an odd number, therefore making that impossible. Logically thinking through the numbers leads to the fact it can’t be done in the standard 12 hour clock. But wait, that’s a narrow canyon of explortation, thinking within invisible boundries of how a clock works. Eureka! It’s a 24 hour clock, between the time 22:30 and 23:31. Chimes at 22:30, 22:45, 23 chimes on the hour, 23:15, 23:30. 27 chimes! ::turns page:: wtf? The real answer is that the clock struck midnight twice because it was the day of the daylight savings time switches back to standard time, and the owner set the clock back an hour. Lame! I live in Arizona damnit, we don’t have daylight savings time… The moral of the riddle was that the clock must strike midnight twice, and when all other answeres are impossible, whatever answer is left, however improbable, must be correct.

Well, I say riddle makers have an ignorent sense of a possability… The answer is usually obscured through false assumptions and fuzzy boundries of exploration, which often leads to more than one answer, just as reasonable as the “correct” one. Maybe I’m just not a riddle person…




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