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Old 05-23-2020, 04:17 PM
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very simple riddle, let's make it complicated


This is going around on Facebook-

In a square room, there is a cat in every corner. In front of every cat there are three cats. How many cats are there in all? (First one with the correct answer is supposed to repost the question)

How do you define "corner"? A square room, defined as a cube, has 8 corners. So I am taking the contrarian, alternative facts definition of the question. The answer is 8.

And what if they are Schrodinger cats?
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:21 PM
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How many were going to Altoona?
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:30 PM
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Kits, cats, sacks, wives!

How many were going to St Ives?



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Old 05-23-2020, 04:36 PM
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Your link isn't working for me, but is it this one - While on my way to St Ives I saw a man with 7 wives, each wife had 7 sacks, each sack had 7 cats and each cat had 7 kittens.

How many in total were going to St Ives?
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:45 PM
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I saw the same riddle, and went down the same sort of path. At one point, I focused on " In front of every cat there are three cats." Ask yourself, does this rule only apply to the Corner Cats, or does it apply to every cat? Every corner Cat has three cats in front of them, but each of those three cats have three cats in front of them , and so on and so on....We eventually end up with a solidly packed cube of cats, compressed to the highest density of cats obtainable, a state of matter I've dubbed "purrtronium". I'm currently applying for grants to study the material properties of purrtronium.
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:56 PM
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...Ask yourself, does this rule only apply to the Corner Cats, or does it apply to every cat? Every corner Cat has three cats in front of them, but each of those three cats have three cats in front of them , and so on and so on....We eventually end up with a solidly packed cube of cats, compressed to the highest density of cats obtainable, a state of matter I've dubbed "purrtronium". I'm currently applying for grants to study the material properties of purrtronium.
It seems to me that there's a straightforward resolution to this. There are just 4 cats, one in each corner. If each cat is facing out from its corner, then the other 3 are in front of it (if we define "in front of" as everything within 45 degrees of straight ahead, which seems reasonable).

Last edited by Riemann; 05-23-2020 at 05:01 PM.
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Old 05-23-2020, 05:00 PM
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I saw the same riddle, and went down the same sort of path. At one point, I focused on " In front of every cat there are three cats." Ask yourself, does this rule only apply to the Corner Cats, or does it apply to every cat? Every corner Cat has three cats in front of them, but each of those three cats have three cats in front of them , and so on and so on....We eventually end up with a solidly packed cube of cats, compressed to the highest density of cats obtainable, a state of matter I've dubbed "purrtronium". I'm currently applying for grants to study the material properties of purrtronium.
And what if the room is the size of the known universe? Or the unknown universe?
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Old 05-23-2020, 05:19 PM
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And what if the room is the size of the known universe? Or the unknown universe?
I think that's turtles, not cats.
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Old 05-23-2020, 10:44 PM
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This is going around on Facebook-

In a square room, there is a cat in every corner. In front of every cat there are three cats. How many cats are there in all? (First one with the correct answer is supposed to repost the question)
Unless specified otherwise, four cats (but eight bats) can occupy separate corners, due t the nature of the beasts. Each cat can have the other 3 cats in front him, so the answer is four. Too late to say "But what if . . .", you had your chance to specify special complicators.
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Old 05-24-2020, 07:58 AM
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I saw this earlier and my thoughts...
A square is two dimensional. So, there are four corners.
I need clarification on what "in front" means. In a race they can be in different lanes. The one that is in front is the one that has gone the farthest. But, if I'm driving and say a car is in front of me, that would imply that they are in the same lane. So, what is the angle needed?
If it has to be "in the same lane", then you would need two cats in the middle of the room, making a total of six cats.
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Old 05-24-2020, 08:19 AM
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If it has to be "in the same lane", then you would need two cats in the middle of the room, making a total of six cats.
This has some validity, but it doesn't avoid the problem that the two cats in the middle do not have 3 cats in front of them, and the wording of the riddle is that in front of every cat there are 3 cats.
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Old 05-24-2020, 08:51 AM
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Your link isn't working for me, but is it this one - While on my way to St Ives I saw a man with 7 wives, each wife had 7 sacks, each sack had 7 cats and each cat had 7 kittens.

How many in total were going to St Ives?

Actually, there wasn't a link, but yes, that is the old riddle.


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Old 05-24-2020, 10:45 AM
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If we are talking about Theoretical Riddle Cats and not Actual Universe Cats, then obviously the answer is an infinite number of cats. The real question is whether its a countably infinite number of cats or an uncountably infinite number of cats.

Last edited by Ynnad; 05-24-2020 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 05-24-2020, 10:58 AM
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According to this, there are about 200 million to 600 million cats, which seems to answer the question.
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Old 05-24-2020, 10:58 AM
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It seems to me that there's a straightforward resolution to this. There are just 4 cats, one in each corner. If each cat is facing out from its corner, then the other 3 are in front of it (if we define "in front of" as everything within 45 degrees of straight ahead, which seems reasonable).

Yeah, but this is one of those stupid "Facebook puzzles" where they never tell you what underlying assumptions have been made, so that every time you produce a defensible answer, they act all smug and tell you you're wrong, without explaining why you're wrong.


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I think that's turtles, not cats.

That's ridiculous! How can you make purrtronium out of something that doesn't purr? If you're not going to take this seriously, we'll have to ask you to leave.
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Old 05-24-2020, 11:22 AM
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Four. There are three other corners with a cat in them for each individual cat. Plus, of course, turtles all the way down.
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Old 05-24-2020, 11:27 AM
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Kits, cats, sacks, wives!

How many were going to St Ives?



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I hate that one and always want to stay out of it but usually someone will act all smug when they say that the answer is "one" and therefore I must jump in.

First, there is not enough background information to solve the problem. We don't know if these people were going, coming, or on the way to/from St. Ives. The problem simply doesn't tell us, so we don't have enough information to answer the question. Many everyone, maybe just the narrator.

Second, it doesn't say that the man's wives were all with him, just that the man had seven wives. Likewise it doesn't say that the wives had the sacks in their possession.

Third, as polygamy is illegal in the UK, wouldn't a smartypants only include the one wife as the other six are not considered legally his wives, no matter what he calls them?

And even if we do take the base assumption that only I am going to St. Ives, I am not a "kit, a cat, a sack, or a wife" so the answer should be zero unless the narrator is a married woman, then it is one.

The Facebook things piss me off because some person, usually a real idiot, tries to show how "smart" they are with a background riddle that leaves out so many important points.
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Old 05-24-2020, 11:45 AM
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Wouldn't it depend which way the cats are facing?
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Old 05-24-2020, 11:52 AM
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Wouldn't it depend which way the cats are facing?
Yes, but since that's not specified int the riddle, presumably you can choose which way the cats face as part of any proposed solution.

Last edited by Riemann; 05-24-2020 at 11:54 AM.
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Old 05-24-2020, 11:56 AM
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Your link isn't working for me, but is it this one - While on my way to St Ives I saw a man with 7 wives, each wife had 7 sacks, each sack had 7 cats and each cat had 7 kittens.

How many in total were going to St Ives?
Wikipedia cites this as the most common version:

Quote:
As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives,
Each wife had seven sacks,
Each sack had seven cats,
Each cat had seven kits:
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were there going to St. Ives?
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Old 05-24-2020, 09:21 PM
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Other points of order:

If the room is considered as a cube, not a simple square - a room might be 'square', but not a square - and there were cats in every corner (four of them suspended close to the ceiling through means likely best not imagined), there would be more than three cats visible to each of the cats, and the premise is inconsistently worded.

If they're Schrodinger's cats, we simply won't know how many are still living until we look.
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Old 05-24-2020, 10:28 PM
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Squares are plane figures, defined as four corners. There's a cat in each one, each having three cats in its peripheral 90-degrree l view, as it surveys its relevant environment the way cats do. Four cats.

You can't come back later and say "Well, maybe Escher designed the room with a square floor but a hexagonal ceiling and the other cats are on a mobius strip and they can all levitate". Maybe shmaybe.
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Old 05-25-2020, 07:41 AM
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I also object to these sorts of riddles because under the pretense of the smug teller of it pretending that they are so smart, they fail to understand that what makes human beings "smart" includes the ability to filter out background information and make default assumptions that then allow us to go on and solve the next problem that arises so we aren't reinventing the wheel every time we are faced with the issue.

It is like the old question: "Do they have a Fourth of July in England?" The gist of the question is to get you to answer "no" because it is an American holiday, but the "true" answer is "yes" because they have July 4 on their calendar.

But I object to this because as a human being you are making a default assumption. If a small child asked you that question, you would almost certainly be correct in assuming that the child was not asking you if they used the same calendar but omitted that date from it. You would be correct in assuming that the question that was asked was "Do they celebrate the Fourth of July, or Independence Day, in England?" and the correct answer would be no.

Just like the "a plane crashes into a cemetery where are the survivors buried" question. Your highly evolved brain is trained to pick up on context clues. You see "plane" "crash" "cemetery" "buried" and think of whether they bury the dead in the same cemetery where they crashed. Nobody would ever ask to bury survivors so you ignore that part.

This is not a weakness but a benefit. It allows your brain to skip unnecessary steps and proceed to higher problem solving.
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Old 05-25-2020, 08:08 AM
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It's a bogus question. There is no way anybody can get four cats to sit still for this nonsense.
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Old 05-25-2020, 08:15 AM
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It's a bogus question. There is no way anybody can get four cats to sit still for this nonsense.
Unless they are Marjory's cats on Mom. Are those cats drugged?
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Old 05-25-2020, 09:19 AM
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I also object to these sorts of riddles...
There are good riddles, where the answer requires genuine imagination and lateral thinking. The problem is that it's generally difficult to know whether it's a good question with an interesting answer, or just the kind waste of time that you're describing. All you can do is trust the judgment of the person passing on the riddle; so anything off Facebook is probably a waste of time.
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Old 05-25-2020, 10:21 AM
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I knew I shouldn't have done this, but this thread got me started:

Four golfers named Mr. Black, Mr. White, Mr. Brown and Mr. Blue were competing in a tournament. The caddy didn't know their names, so he asked them. One of them, Mr. Brown, told a lie.
The 1st golfer said "The 2nd Golfer is Mr. Black."
The 2nd golfer said "I am not Mr. Blue!"
The 3rd golfer said "Mr. White? That's the 4th golfer."
And the 4th golfer remained silent. Which one of the golfers is Mr. Blue?

Here is my analysis:

SPOILER:
It's #4. Why?

1. #2 and #4 cannot be Brown. We are told that Brown told a lie. #4 didn't say anything, so he is not Brown. #2 makes a statement that he is not Blue, therefore if he is Brown, he has told the truth, therefore #2 is not Brown.

2. That leaves us with #1 and #3 as possibilities for Brown.

3. Let's assume #1 is Brown. Therefore #3's statement is true, making White#4. #2 says he is not Blue, leaving only #3 to be Blue and #2 is then Black by elimination. However this is not possible as if Brown is #1, then his statement that #2 is Black would have to be true, which the rules say is not.

4. Therefore Brown must be #3. That makes golfer #1's statement that #2 is Black to be true. So we have #2 Black, #3 Brown. Again by process of elimination, Brown must lie which means #4 is not White, #1 is White, which leaves #4 to be Blue.

So it is
1. White
2. Black
3. Brown
4. Blue

But these people on Facebook are telling me I have overlooked something and that Blue as #3 is the definitely correct answer!
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Old 05-25-2020, 03:23 PM
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It's a bogus question. There is no way anybody can get four cats to sit still for this nonsense.
Much less an infinite number.


But my question is: If one of the turtles needs a break, can a cat take its place?
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Old 05-25-2020, 04:04 PM
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For simplicity's sake, may we assume the cats are spherical?
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Old 05-25-2020, 04:13 PM
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Much less an infinite number.
There'd be no need to "get" an infinite number of cats to sit still - they'd be mashed together by an infinitely strong gravitational force.
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Old 05-25-2020, 05:13 PM
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For simplicity's sake, may we assume the cats are spherical?
Their normal shape may be more useful, since cats tessellate.

Last edited by Riemann; 05-25-2020 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 05-25-2020, 06:39 PM
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Yeah, but this is one of those stupid "Facebook puzzles" where they never tell you what underlying assumptions have been made, so that every time you produce a defensible answer, they act all smug and tell you you're wrong, without explaining why you're wrong.
Just for the record, that was not my intent in reposting the riddle. And it was not the intent of the OP on Facebook, who says the answer is 4. And that is the real answer in the real world. When I said there were 8 corners in a square room, well there are. But one needs to suppose those corners have little shelves the cats have been placed on, or that the cats cat levitate.

The thread of Facebook is still going back and forth between the OP who says 4 and others who say 8 and others who say an infinite number. And the OP there saying to the guy saying there are 8 cats, "I sure donít remember you being that annoying"

I didn't mean to cause so much trouble.
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Old 05-25-2020, 06:56 PM
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What if the square room is wallpapered with cat posters?
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Old 05-25-2020, 07:59 PM
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Just for the record, that was not my intent in reposting the riddle. And it was not the intent of the OP on Facebook, who says the answer is 4. And that is the real answer in the real world. When I said there were 8 corners in a square room, well there are. But one needs to suppose those corners have little shelves the cats have been placed on, or that the cats cat levitate.

The thread of Facebook is still going back and forth between the OP who says 4 and others who say 8 and others who say an infinite number. And the OP there saying to the guy saying there are 8 cats, "I sure donít remember you being that annoying"

I didn't mean to cause so much trouble.


Yeah, I wasn't talking about you in particular. I saw the same puzzle last week, and then the person who posted it insisted that 4 was not the right answer. And that's the problem. 4 is a perfectly good answer based on the information we have, and reasonable real-world assumptions about cats, rooms, directions and levitation.

But without knowing exactly which assumptions the person made, it's impossible to get the "right" answer by anything other than chance.
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Old 05-25-2020, 09:37 PM
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My thought would be 24 cats:

There are 4 corners in the room only if you define a "corner" as 3 dimensional, but if every corner is 2 dimensionally defined, there are 6 x 2D surfaces in the cubic room, and each of those surfaces has 4 cats. This also assumes "in front" is being straight ahead or within 45 degrees.

As far as keeping the felines still, for experimental purposes, I'd use a water soluble adhesive to glue the cats to the ceiling and walls.

But I do agree that's it a stupid puzzle.

It reminds me of my son's riddle from age 10:
Q:You're trapped in a room with no doors or windows and only a broken mirror on the floor. How do you get out?
A: Put the mirror pieces together which makes them "whole" and then jump through the "hole".
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Old 05-25-2020, 09:51 PM
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It reminds me of my son's riddle from age 10:
Q:You're trapped in a room with no doors or windows and only a broken mirror on the floor. How do you get out?
A: Put the mirror pieces together which makes them "whole" and then jump through the "hole".
This sounds like it belongs with the classics like...

Quote:
What's brown and sticky?
Quote:
What's orange and sounds like a parrot?
...and the greatest of them all...

Quote:
What's brown and rhymes with snoop?
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Old 05-28-2020, 10:21 PM
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For simplicity's sake, may we assume the cats are spherical?
Negative. All cats have a mouth and an anus which are connected, making them tori.

Although, if you ask Michael Stevens of the Vsauce YouTube channel, there are several more holes in your head that connect to the main one making us and our mammalian brethren more complex than a mere one-holed torus.
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