Popular Mechanics (South Africa)

The POP MECH riddle that defeated me


IONLY MADE IT ABOUT HALFway through this riddle (right), the first instalment from contributo­r Laura Feiveson. There’s a reason hers are so challengin­g. She has a PhD in Economics from MIT. She worked at the IMF. And now, on days off from her job as an economist at the US Federal Reserve, she creates maths puzzles for Pop Mech. For the full explanatio­n of the solution, go to popularmec­hanics.com/riddle.

Trying to solve these kinds of puzzles brings back good memories of computer science and geometry classes. I liked using specific tools and principles to reason towards the answer, all while building a trail of evidence.

Getting beaten by a ‘moderate’ riddle reminds me: Respect the heroes who use maths and logic to solve huge problems. That includes economists such as Feiveson, and the epidemiolo­gists and doctors who have been asked to find new answers on very short notice. Me? I’ll try one more, then back to my Nintendo Switch.

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