Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Clever Old Woman

OK, here's a challenge for my blog readers. It's a brain teaser. See if you come up with the correct answer. Here goes.

Long ago in the days when people used candles to light their houses, there lived an old woman. She was poor but very clever. She thought of many ways to save money. One way she saved money was by making new candles from old ones. She found that one quarter of a candle never burned because it was inside the candle holder. Most people just threw away these unburned candle stubs but the old woman saved hers. By melting four of these stubs she could make one new candle.

One day the old woman went to the candle maker's shop and bought sixteen candles. How many new candles could she make from the left over stubs of the sixteen candles?


I confess that nobody in our family (including Dad) got the correct answer. We all took it on face value as a simple maths question and said the answer was four candles. Did anybody work out the correct answer, which is five candles?

The clever old woman made five new candles. Every four candles gave her four quarters from which to make one new candle. So from the sixteen candles she made four new ones. I guess we all got that far. But those four candles also gave her four quarters from which she could make a fifth candle.

We found a great book full of this sort of puzzle from a second hand shop. If anybody likes this sort of thing, I'll post more from time to time.


  1. Woohoo! I, too, am a clever old woman, as I got the answer correct! :)

    Though the generation trends from your earlier post are general, I'm hoping all our fam is more like the builders. Hard work, knowing that your actions bring consequences, taking responsibility seriously, thinking and doing...

    Have a great week!

  2. Todd actually got this right before I did. I like things like this.

    I read a terrific quote today and thought of you (because I know you appreciate good quotes). It was by the 13th century Persian poet Rumi (I think that was his description.) He said, "Outside right and wrong, there is a field. I'll meet you there." In otherwords, find a compromise. Wise words.

    Have a good week!

  3. I so don't like those things. I guess I'm just not into thinking that hard... LOL But most of the guys in my house like 'em. I'll have to ask that on our next hottub night!

  4. Good day !.
    You re, I guess , probably very interested to know how one can make real money .
    There is no initial capital needed You may start earning with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

    AimTrust is what you haven`t ever dreamt of such a chance to become rich
    The company incorporates an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

    It is based in Panama with structures around the world.
    Do you want to become an affluent person?
    That`s your choice That`s what you desire!

    I`m happy and lucky, I began to get real money with the help of this company,
    and I invite you to do the same. If it gets down to select a correct companion who uses your money in a right way - that`s AimTrust!.
    I make 2G daily, and what I started with was a funny sum of 500 bucks!
    It`s easy to join , just click this link http://gahyhoje.wtcsites.com/idujas.html
    and lucky you`re! Let`s take this option together to become rich