Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Puzzle For The Ages

Here's a delightful puzzle to help you get over the Wednesday hump, or maybe it will get you stuck there. Either way, delight yourself in mathematical detective work to see if you can figure it out.

A member of a census organization is going door-to-door collecting information. He comes to a house where a woman answers the door. After introducing himself, he asks her how many adults live in the house. "Just me," she replies, as the screaming and yelling of children pierce through from the living room. "I'm guessing you have children," he astutely asserts, "how many?" "I have three, and they're about to drive me out of my mind. How many of them do you want?" She asks back. "Um, ma'am, if you'll simply allow ME to ask the questions," he rudely replies. "Now if you could please tell me the ages of your three children, I'll be on my way." Feeling slighted, the woman becomes irritated and less cooperative. "Absolutely NOT," she retorts. "You're gonna have to work at it now Mr. Census man. Here's a clue. If you multiply all their ages together, you get thirty-six." She then slams the door in her face.

The census man pulls out his calculator from his pocket and punches a few numbers, then knocks on the door again. When the woman answers the door this time, she is even more irate as the sounds of obstreperous children spill out of some hidden room in the house. "Sorry to bother you again, ma'am, but could you please offer me one more hint as to your children's ages? "If it'll get you off my doorstep, you should know that the sum of their ages equals the address number on the house across the street." BAM, slammed the door.

Determined to get this information, the census taker runs across the street and peers at the number on its mailbox. He again pulls out his calculator, punches a few keys, then scratches his head a bit. With a determined temerity, he knocks on the woman's door once again. "I'm so sorry to bother you again, but I need to have just one last clue and I'll be our of your hair for good." (Screams emanated from inside the house) "You're just like my oldest," she said "unrelenting!" Then she retreated back into the house and was gone.

Now the census man may not be suave, but he's no dummy. From her last, subtle clue regarding her child's temperament, he is able to discern the ages of each of her three children. Can YOU figure it out?

Answer and explanation tomorrow. But you can't read tomorrow's answer if you haven't mentally sweated over it today.


lc said...

Will you explain the answer tomorrow?

kwkorpi said...

Of course!