The Seashell Press

Table of Contents

Sample Chapter

Interactive Puzzles
Three Pennies
Monty Hall Problem
The Brooklyn Bridge
Einstein's Neighborhood

Take Your Brain Out for a Run

The best puzzles are fun because they are surprising, not because they are hard. They challenge us to question the obvious, and think about familiar ideas in unfamiliar ways. From the simplest little counting problems to the deep and unanswerable questions of game theory, these mind games have egged us on for thousands of years, teaching us to see problems in a larger context or from a new angle, helping us to think more critically about assumptions we never doubted before.

Gathered from dozens of puzzle writers going back almost two hundred years, the problems in this book proceed from very simple to very hard, with 12 noggintwisters at the end that are the toughest I have ever found. And they are organized by type so you can develop a strategy for solving one class of puzzles, and then practice it a couple of times before moving on.

One of the puzzles comes from an Egyptian scroll, written by someone named Ahmes in about 1650 BC. Several of them are from Greek and Roman puzzle books. One is by Abe Lincoln—a puzzle fan himself, and another was written by Nobel laureate Richard Feynman when he was in high school. The last one was written by Albert Einstein. One of the puzzles was developed by the British spy agency as a recruiting test, another comes from the CIA.

Eratosthenes, director of the library of Alexandria, is here ho calculating the circumference of the earth. Archimedes explains how he caught the dishonest goldsmith. Galileo hangs weights from the chandeliers in his 17th century cathedral and gets them swinging back and forth. Newton tells you when to add cream to your coffee. Euler shows you how to cross the bridges of Konigsburg. Sherlock Holmes demonstrates how to solve a crime. Alexander Calder teaches you to balance a mobile, and Arthur Clarke sends an elevator into space.