On Friday I posted this puzzle….

I have 2 hourglasses.  One measures 7 minutes and the other measures 11 minutes.  What is the quickest way to use them to time the boiling of an egg for 15 minutes?
If you haven’t tried to solve it, have a go now.  For everyone else the answer is after the break.
Start the 2 hourglasses together.  When the 7 minute hourglass finishes, turn it over.  When the 11 minute hourglasses finishes, turn the 7 minute hourglass over again.  When the 7 minute hourglass finishes the 15 minutes will be up.
I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED and is available for the Kindle(UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USA here). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.

1. Yes, this is the solution I had. Are there any other ways or is this the only one?

1. Blo0dy says:

My solution was to start the 2 hourglass together after putting the water on the stove to boil. When the 7 minutes hourglass finishes turn the 11 minutes hourglass over and put the eggs into the boiling water. When it finishes, turn it over again. When it is finishes the eggs are ready.

2. Gareth says:

My solution was the same as Blo0dy’s.

3. Julia says:

me too, but Richard’s answer is quicker.

Some people suggested that you can’t use an hourglass that is calibrated for 7 minutes to measure three or four minutes though. I would like to know what answer they got.

4. Julia says:

(me = mine)

5. Arneb says:

My solution was a bit different as well.
Start the hourglasses together
Start boling the eggs when the 7 min glass has finished.
When the eleven min glass has finished, restart it.
When it has finished again, quench, peel, salt and enjoy.

6. Andy says:

Start the 7 minute timer. When it’s finished, turn it over, when it’s finished, butter a slice of bread to make soldiers. When you’ve finished, take the egg out.
Simples. 🙂

7. Anonymous says:

we need to boil the egg for 15 minutes… so by this… bloody’s answer goes wrong.

2. Tomas says:

Is there any solution that is quicker than 15 minutes? 🙂

1. Anonymous says:

get the egg you boiled yesterday out of the fridge and have that one?

2. Yes. Discard the large glass; turn over the small glass. When it runs out, bingo, seven minutes. Simple!

3. Put the egg on a train traveling close to the speed of light (about 90% should be fine) from your frame of reference the 15 minutes the egg needs to cook will be done by the time the 7 minute timer runs out. Unfortunately your egg is now 70 million miles away 😦

3. Pigturion says:

Start both at same time, When the 7 min glass finishes, put the eggs in boiling water.
When the 11 min glass finishes, the eggs will have been boiling for 4 mins.
Turn over the 11 min glass. When it finishes, the eggs will have been in for 15 mins. So 18 mins in total.

1. Jeff says:

That’s what I got. It seems much simpler.

2. Emlyn says:

I also got this solution.

I think Richard’s solution is wrong. It makes the assumption that running the 7 minute timer for 4 minutes then turning it over will measure another 4 minutes. But that will only be true if the sand falls at a constant rate, and there’s no reason why it should.
If approximate solutions like that are acceptable, why not just use the 7 minute timer twice to get approximately 15 minutes?

4. Pigturion says:

And you can my duff post 🙂

5. Start both together. When 7 min runs out start boiling egg. 4 mins left on 11min glass. When 11 min runs out, turn it over for another 11 mins. 4 + 11 = 15.

1. Jethro says:

That’s the answer I had, but it’s not 15 mins total it’s 22 minutes (the 15 minutes boiling time plus the 7 mins before you put the eggs in).

2. That’s the answer I got too. Use the first 7 min to get the water on.

6. Ed Wilson says:

This also depends on linear measurement, which was discounted by a comment on Friday.

My solution also depends on linear measurement:
– put the water on the heat
– start both hourglasses at the same time
– when the 7 minute hourglass finishes, lay the 11 minute hourglass on its side (4 minutes left)
– put the egg in to the water
– restart the 11 minute hourglass until it finishes
– restart the 11 minute hourglass for the full 11 minutes
– throw away the overcooked egg

7. Anonymous says:

Simple when you know.

8. My solution was as Pigturion – though strictly 22 minutes in total (7+4+11). But you need the initial 7 minutes to get the water boiling, get the eggs, etc.

9. Navneeth says:

#####Start the 2 hourglasses together. When the 7 minute hourglass finishes, turn it over.

7 minutes up, 4 minutes remaining in the 11 glass

#####When the 11 minute hourglasses finishes, turn the 7 minute hourglass over again.

11 minutes up, 3 minutes remaining in the 7 glass (only 4 minutes have passed since the previous turning over)

######When the 7 minute hourglass finishes the 15 minutes will be up.

The remaining sand worth three minutes would have fallen by this time.

11+3 = 14.

Where am I going wrong, if indeed I’m wrong?

1. sirkitkat says:

#####Start the 2 hourglasses together. When the 7 minute hourglass finishes, turn it over.
7 minutes up, 4 minutes remaining in the 11 glass
#####When the 11 minute hourglasses finishes, turn the 7 minute hourglass over again.
the 4 minutes of sand that has passed comes on top and flow back thus 4 minuts of sand left in the hourglass
######When the 7 minute hourglass finishes the 15 minutes will be up.
11+4 = 15

2. Navneeth says:

D’oh!

Thanks, sirkitkat.

10. Anonymous says:

11. Isn’t the given answer wrong? It looks like this method would give 14 minutes, not 15. After 11 minutes, 4 minutes of the 7 minute hourglass sand will have flowed; turning this hourglass at this time will leave 3 more minutes before it is finished. 11 + 3 = 14.
My method would be to start both hourglasses simultaneously, put the egg in the water when the 7 minute hourglass is finished, turn the 11 minute hourglass when it is finished and take the egg out when the 11 minute hourglass is finished for the second time.

1. Tomas says:

No, four minutes are in the bottom of the small hour glass when the big hour glass has finished. When you turn it over the four minutes ends up on _top_. Exactly what you need after 11 minutes have passed.

2. doh … forgot how hourglassed worked … four minutes flowed, four minutes to flow back!

12. Didn’t get it. Pretty clever.

13. I’d have been slightly surprised if the answer had been given as less than 15 mins.

14. Lazy t says:

and if that’s too difficult, just get on the phone to McEggs’r’us and have one delivered

15. 1. Turn over the 7-minute hourglass when you put the egg in the water.

2. When the 7-minute hourglass is empty, turn it over again.

3. When the 7-minute hourglass is empty a second time (totaling 14 minutes), count slowly from 1 to 60.

4. Take overcooked egg off heat.

16. Carl Zeie says:

Take both hourglasses. Knock on your neighbor’s door. Say “I will give you both of these lovely hourglasses if I can borrow your digital timer”.

17. Andy says:

Richard’s solution only gives 14 minutes unless I’m missing something.

1. Julia says:

you’re missing something. (see Neil Benn & Thomas above.)

18. Martha says:

What a brilliant puzzle! I was sure I had it with 22 minutes

19. Anonymous says:

I tried and solved it in 10 minutes

1. Tomas says:

Wow, that’s way less than 15 minutes. 🙂

20. John says:

I thought you start the 7 hourglass and when it finishes turn it over. Then count the last minute on your own.

21. John says:

It doesn’t take a minute to turn over an hour glass. This means that the answer given is wrong, unless you count the last minute on your own like my comment before. ^ (\(\
( =’;’=)
(_(“)(“)

1. Jethro says:

Why would you need it to take a minute to turn over the hourglass? The answer is correct…
7 + 4 + 4 = 15 minutes

22. For those of you who get the water to boiling before putting in the egg–Be aware that you are very likely to break the egg! 🙂 Eggs should be started in cold water.

1. I also started the hourglasses for 7 min. before putting the eggs on, but Richard’s answer is definitely quicker, because mine actually ended up taking 22 minutes. Oh, well.

23. John says:

(\(\
(=’;’=)
(_(“)(“)
This is what the bunny was supposed to look like.