Ask Mar­i­lyn

Chattanooga Times Free Press - Parade - - Parade - By Mar­i­lyn vos Sa­vant Send ques­tions to mar­i­lyn @ pa­

Can you put 50 coins into 10 en­velopes such that each en­ve­lope con­tains a dif­fer­ent num­ber of coins? —Brian James, Dal­las, Texas To think about this your­self, read­ers, pause here. The an­swer is in the next para­graph.

It’s im­pos­si­ble. En­vi­sion putting one coin in one en­ve­lope, two coins in an­other and so forth. By the time you put nine coins in the ninth en­ve­lope, you would have used 45 of the 50 coins. So you wouldn’t have enough coins to put a dif­fer­ent num­ber in the 10th en­ve­lope.

Note: So­lu­tions that cheat are pos­si­ble. For ex­am­ple, you could put one en­ve­lope in­side an­other en­ve­lope, thereby us­ing the same coins more than once.

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