Here’s the puzzle:
- One bottle of wine is poisoned out of the 1,000 bottles you have to serve at your apparently huge party.
- You only have one hour before your party starts to find the poisoned bottle.
- To test the bottles, you grab 10 rats.
- The poison needs one hour to work, so you only have time for one round of testing on these rats.
- Luckily, the rats will drink as much wine as you let them.
How will you run the test successfully?
Watch this video to find out. Or, you can scroll down for the answer.
Here’s the answer:
- Assign each bottle a number from 1 to 1,000.
- Under each number, (they are all base 10 numbers), write its binary, or base 2 number.
- Each of your rats represents a binary number, so line them up in order.
- Serve the rats representing the binary representation of 1 in the bottle’s label a drop of that wine.
- Bottle 4, as an example, is 100 in binary, so the third rat gets drops from that bottle since it represents the 1.
- Serve all the wines, then read the binary number in an hour from the dead rats.
Phew! That was a narrow escape for your party guests!
So, next time you have a party and one of your thousand wine bottles is poisoned and you have 10 rats you’re not particularly attached to, you’ll know what to do to save your guests.
Were you able to solve it?