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Poll 248: A hundred prisoners are each locked in a room with three pirates, one of whom will walk the plank in the morning. Each prisoner has 10 bottles of wine, one of which has been poisoned; and each pirate has 12 coins, one of which is counterfeit and weighs either more or less than a genuine coin. In the room is a single switch, which the prisoner may either leave as it is, or flip. Before being led into the rooms, the prisoners are all made to wear either a red hat or a blue hat; they can see all the other prisoners' hats, but not their own. Meanwhile, a six-digit prime number of monkeys multiply until their digits reverse, then all have to get across a river using a canoe that can hold at most two monkeys at a time. But half the monkeys always lie and the other half always tell the truth. Given that the Nth prisoner knows that one of the monkeys doesn't know that a pirate doesn't know the product of two numbers between 1 and 100 without knowing that the N+1th prisoner has flipped the switch in his room or not after having determined which bottle of wine was poisoned and what colour his hat is, what is the solution to this puzzle?

Total votes: 4249

The 64th square would have more rice than the entire kingdom.: 695 (16.4%)  
The surgeon is his MOTHER.: 493 (11.6%)
You should change your choice to the other door.: 485 (11.4%)
The seventh philosopher starves to death.: 472 (11.1%)
He commited suicide with an icicle.: 466 (11.0%)
16 miles per hour.: 389 (9.2%)
Only if the missionary is also the nun's uncle.: 366 (8.6%)
The first cannibal on the 29th night at midnight.: 346 (8.1%)
Ask him what the other farmer would say is the correct road.: 209 (4.9%)
He adds his own horse, then it's left over at the end.: 183 (4.3%)
He's too short to reach any button above the 10th floor.: 145 (3.4%)

The Allosaurus got 60 hack-in votes this time. I also got over 30 people e-mailing to suggest that the only possible correct answer must be 42.

While the Allosaurus is kind of funny as an Irregular Webcomic! in-joke, I have to admit that I find the constant repetition of 42 as the supposed answer to any non-straightforward question to be getting a bit tiresome. I like Douglas Adams as much as anyone, but I think it's about time we moved beyond its cliches.


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Last updated: Friday, 28 August, 2009; 16:29:24 PDT.
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