I am going to be posting quite a few videos onto my In59Seconds channel very soon.  Here is the first one, describing a simple test supported by about 500 research papers (see here). So, what do your fingers say about you?



  1. When I look at my hand one way, then my index finger is shorter, when I turn my hand around and look from the other side, it’s longer. Is this the same for everyone?

    1. Me too. It looks like. Measuring the length of finger seems to be difficulty.
      You also can let to grow or shrink only one finger with your willpower ! No, joke, with your muscles: Bend all fingers to the left or to the right. For advanced: Turn only the metacarpus, while the fingers show in the same direction.

  2. this is great! combined with feeling for enlargements and indentations on someone’s skull, you can get a complete picture of their personality.

    oh wait…

  3. Well, I know that you can’t judge from a sample size of one, but my first finger is shorter than my third finger, but I definitely fit into the second category rather than the first. So, nonsense.

  4. Pack/tile a thirteen by thirteen square with twelve (smaller) squares. When you’ve done that, try to do it with eleven, the smallest possible number for this. Mrs. Perkins will be happy.

    1. I can do it 6 squares. Five of them have sides of 4 1/3 units, so three of them will fit along the bottom of the 13×13 square. Put another two up the side, and the remaining space is covered by a larger square.

      I’m wondering if you meant that the smaller squares must have integer sides.

    2. the solution will be of the form:
      169 = a + 4b + 9c + 16d + 25e + 36f + 49g + 64h
      (there is no solution with any square larger than 8×8)

      one solution for a 12-square cover:
      one 8×8
      three 5×5
      two 3×3
      two 2×2
      four 1×1

  5. I am both assertive AND empathic. One is shown by having a longer forefinger, the other by a shorter forefinger. This bogus ‘test’ doesn’t allow for the forefinger being both longer and shorter than the other finger, therefore I can’t exist in this context!

    1. In the absence of a puzzle I thought I’d read the comments on some of this laughable but harmless old pony about fingers.

      I just wanted to say that Adolf Clickbait is my favourite name so far this morning… and I doubt there’ll be many more.

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  7. It is a travesty to see this once noble blog reduced to drivel and asinine comments.

    Those of us who tried oh so hard to add quality and create an informed discussion must now raise our eyebrows in dismay at what has become of it.

    The likes of Steve and Slanty Nabarro must carry much of the weight of the blame. Though a few others have encouraged and rewarded them.

    I fear I may need to see other outlets for my insights.

    1. @”Barry Goddard” — Whoever you are posting as Barry (it is Janus?), it’s a pitiful attempt, wee man. Barry was never a racist for a start.

  8. This blog started going downhill when the original Goddard started posting his “drivel and asinine comments”. It was faintly amusing for about five minutes but the repetitive comedy schtick far outlasted any welcome.

    It then got even worse when he moved from simply getting the answer wrong on any puzzle that he couldn’t find in Google to spoiling the answer as prominently as possible when he was able to Google it. The decline continued as various people expressed their unhappiness with this and Goddard contemptuously ignored their wishes and those of the blog owner.

    Things culminated a few months ago when lots of people complained and comments were disabled for the puzzles. Goddard then switched to attempting to troll those who had called him out by accusing them of all sorts of nonsense in order to prompt a reaction.

    Goddard, having trashed this community and now bored with his little game is wondering what he will do next.

    1. *…tumbleweed gently rolls across the bleak desert landscape .. a distant peal of bells…*

      I agree with you but surely the reason for the decline of this blog is that Richard no longer posts to it.

    2. @Adolf. I’m with you up to a point but we should also remember that there were quite a few different trolls who were pretending to be Barry Goddard. I know he doesn’t need me to defend him but it was fairly clear when it was the original person who called himself Barry Goddard posting and when it was a little fuckchew trying to stir things up.

      Personally, I miss him. I liked the act. He was a lot funnier than many of the other bullies, racists, morons and pus that swing by here thinking we need their input.

    1. @AnOnyxMouse
      Correct! I’ve no idea why it’s the correct answer though… something to do with the fact that the proportions of the object do not change as it expands.

    2. @Eddie – it’s probably easier to understand if you use children to represent the molecules that make up the torus (or adults if you’re not permitted to be near children).

      Imagine 10 children standing close together in a circle and holding hands to represent the molecules surrounding the hole of the torus (yes, it’s a tiny torus). Now, if we heat those children up with a bunsen burner stolen from a favourite café of mine, they’ll start to jiggle about more and more, and push each other further apart. The circular space that they encompass (the torus’ hole) thus increases in size as a consequence.

  9. Ok, one in return.

    I meet with a friend / lover / stranger in an animal costume at a café and we both order the same type of coffee. The coffee arrives black at a temperature of 85°C with a little jug of milk at 4°C. I immediately add my milk but we are then distracted by 6 clowns in a Smart Fortwo driving by towing a juggler on a unicycle. Ten minutes of sprightly conversation ensues before our attention returns to our coffees.

    The other person adds exactly the same amount of milk to their coffee and then we both take a sip. Whose coffee is the warmer or are they both the same temperature?

    1. One has to make a certain number of assumptions here to avoid the sort of comments that normally follow Richard’s puzzles – such as the cups are identical, the relative quantities of coffee to milk, and maybe the ambient temperature (not sure about the latter).

      Having said that, I think that hotter drinks cool down quicker than cooler ones, so yours, which has been cooled slightly by the addition of milk will not lose as much heat as your companion’s whilst you enjoy the show. It is also white(r) and will not radiate as much heat as your companion’s black drink.
      I don’t think that the fact that their milk will have warmed up slightly will counter theser effects.

      But happy to hear other views.

    2. Congratulations ChrisR, a sterling answer. You correctly and briefly note the obvious and necessary assumptions regarding cups, amount of liquids, etc but failed to pick up on the fact that I had placed my cup over a bunsen burner.

      Fortuitously, although the bunsen was connected to a supply of suitable gas I had neglected to bring anything with which to ignite a flame so it didn’t affect the end result. Probably.

      So, this was really more of a practical science question rather than a strict puzzle but I was bored with the plug in a value for ‘x’ to get ‘y’ type. You are correct in that where there is a greater energy differential (between the hot drinks and the ambient air+table) the flow of energy in order to equalise things (temperature) will be greater/faster. This is similar (though not quite the same) to how a small car full of clowns will roll down a steeper hill faster than a less-steep one. So – you are correct – my drinking partner’s coffee will be noticeably cooler.

      The lighter (milky) coffee actually absorbs slightly less visible radiation than the darker coffee but the effect on temperature is negligible.

      The warming of the milk has a very small effect (in reducing the difference between the two coffees) but it is overwhelmed by other factors. However, if the café was in, say, Morocco, and the ambient temperature was close to, say, 45°C and we had ordered cappuccinos (children’s coffees consisting of half milk and half coffee), then the temperature of the milk would play a more significant role.

      So congratulations again, ChrisR, you’ve won the advertised prize of a free drink at Sodom Sam’s Wine Bar and Tattoo Parlour. Free as in free of Rohypnol. Probably.

  10. As this experiment in operant conditioning has left us to amuse ourselves…Eddie’s mention of a torus reminded me of something that puzzled me for ages, I needed a mathsdoctor to ‘prove’ the answer to me. Please forgive the lack of mathematically accurate terms (topology, surface).

    Take a hollow sphere, ie tennis ball, but perfectly elastic like a klein bottle.
    Poke a knife in and push the sphere through the hole, the result is fairly obvious…an inside out sphere.

    Take a hollow torus, ie inner tube, poke a hole,
    What happens when that is pushed inside out?

    1. @Lazy T – I’m not a maths doctor and I don’t think I can prove the answer to you but I can tell you what happens.

      Any hollow object that is turned inside-out through a small hole in its surface maintains its overall topology and, if the material from which it is made is not completely flimsy, also it’s general shape. So the tennis ball becomes an inside-out sphere rather than a cube or a torus.

      So you’d think that a torus turned inside-out will also be a torus, and it is. Except that the hole seems to move. That’s because the external hole through the centre of torus’s ring becomes the tubular space running around inside the tube and what was the internal tubular space becomes the outside hole.

      If the torus was sitting flat like a donut on a plate, turning it inside out would leave it standing on its edge. If you used a torus where the diameters of the hole and the inner tubular space differ by a lot, like a bicycle inner-tube, the torus will change from a thin tube surrounding a large hole to a fat tube surrounding a small hole, altho’ I suppose if it’s perfectly elastic then you could stretch it to make it whatever you wanted.

      Also, if you were draw coloured bands around the tubular space like on a sea-snake, after you turn the torus inside-out, the bands would then be stripes running along the tubular space around the central hole.

      I’ve just read that back and it’s not that clear if you don’t already kind of know what it’s about. What I prob should’ve done in the first place is looked for a good diagram (altho’ I guess you could’ve done that too). I found this on good ol’ Wikipedia which demonstrates it quite nicely:

    2. Thanks Simon, I guessed it would be an inside out torus but inebriated discussions left me uncertain and unable to show that it wouldn’t turn into a sphere with ‘tangle’ inside it, the gif says it all.
      The next step was an inflatable knuckle-duster treated in a similar manner, which I am now thinking would transform into a torus with tangle inside it.

  11. Suppose 6 monkeys take 6 minutes to eat 6 bananas.
    How many minutes would it take 3 monkeys to eat 3 bananas?
    – they eat at the same rate;
    – the term banana is used to signify a fruit of the Musa acuminata variety;
    – the banans are eaten in both trials at standard temperature and pressure.
    – mastication rate reamains the same in both trials
    – no pedantic idiot comes up with any other stupid assumption.

    1. This is a classic puzzle altho’ I’ve not heard it presented in this form before, so I’ll not post an answer. I also don’t care if anyone thinks that I don’t really know the answer.

      Thanks to Eddie for again making an effort.

    2. I feel that you’re really limiting our options with all of your assumptions listed.
      I agree I’ve not seen this precise version of the puzzle before, but it’s nicely phrased.

    3. I’ve also not seen this puzzle presented in this form before. Usually the puzzle-bananas are triploid cultivars of Musa × paradisiaca so it is refreshing to see a wild, seeded, heritage variety specified instead.

      Any idea what species the monkeys are?

    4. Are the monkeys in the two trials traveling at the same speed, and what’s the relative speed of the observer? This could affect the time measuring.

    5. Thanks for the puzzle, Eddie. When is it polite to offer answers, would you say? I’ve got one but I’m not convinced I’m right (as usual).

  12. The problem is trivial.

    Six monkeys eat six bananas in six minutes.

    Cancel two of the sixes (not all three — that is the trap) and we have:

    One monkey eats six bananas in one minute.

    It therefore takes 10 seconds to eat a banana.

    With three monkeys and three bananas that becomes 3 times 3 times 10 seconds = 1.5 minutes.

    Surely we can come up with harder problems than this to offer to the dwindling crowd on this blog.

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  14. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways,
    just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  15. I think this blog has come to the end of its life. Richard Wiseman seems thoroughly disinterested in it now. Shame as I enjoyed the mix of puzzles and YouTube videos but all good things must come to an end I suppose.

  16. Been reading this blog for many years. Really enjoyed the early years when RW wasn’t selling his wares as much. Really enjoyed the ghost and unexplained pictures that someone always had a reason for. Going to miss this blog. It was the only one I have ever been on. I guess I will have to look else where for daily reading. Any suggestions from the world out there?

  17. I seldom comment, but after browsing through a few of
    the responses on this page What do your fingers say about you?

    Richard Wiseman. I actually do have 2 questions for you if you do
    not mind. Is it only me or do some of these responses appear like they are
    written by brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are posting on additional online sites, I would like to keep up with everything fresh you have to
    post. Could you post a list of every one of your public pages like
    your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

    1. Sir, Richard’s Twitter, Youtube and Facebook links are on almost every page this site. If you can make the effort, go to the top of this page and look on the right.

  18. A magic rectangular belt always shrinks its length to 1/2 and width to 1/3 whenever its owner wishes something.

    After three such wishes, its surface was 4 cm2.

    What was the original length, if the original width was 9 cm?

  19. Good man. I was just wondering what I was going to do while I waited for my tea to brew. Perfect timing.

    I won’t give the answer away but I will say that I would probably have to punch some extra holes in this belt if I were to successfully use it to hold up my harem pants.

    1. I reckon it might just fit me – allowing for overlap etc.

      As it’s Monday morning do we get an official answer posted (that we can argue about)?

    2. Yes, using two non-simultaneous (and non-similtaneous) equations. One to calculate how much the area had reduced by and what it had originally been – A × (1/2 × 1/3)³ = 4; A = 864 – and one to find the original length given the original area – L = A/9 = 96.

      Obviously I could have just used a single more complex equation but this was quicker, easier, less error-prone, and simpler to check that I hadn’t made a mistake.

    3. yeah!
      area divides by 6 on a wish, so 3 wishes means it’s divided by 216 times original, which is therefore 864 cm2
      original width is 9 cm so original, length is 864/9 = 96 cm, which is approx 38inches (a bit of a tight fit but if I breath in…however I wouldn’t normally wear a belt that wide)

    1. Bravo @An Onyx Mouse

      Those who used similtaneous equations to solve the puzzles are the ones who destroyed this blog.

      They threw away the imagination the reality the splendour the insight into life and replaced it with mechanicalistic manipulations of symbols which they insisted on defining themselves.

      There was no breath of life in here. Just dull use of narrow mathematical techniques.

      And even so. That often did not work. It would take them a whole weekend of scribbling and solving before they would publish their solutions. Whereas those of us with a true relation with reality are able to display the answer immediately.

      Yes they were buffoons. Yes they destroyed this blog. Their narrow minded non-holistic adherence to “mathematical methods” may indeed truely be destroying our entire actual world as we see before our eyes.

      Let is hope that Mr Wiseman learns lessons and creates a future blog that is free of such people.

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  21. Hi Richard,

    I’ve not received a “Friday’s Puzzle” for over a month. Has my name and email address somehow been deleted?

    Please let me know if you are still doing this.

    Thanks, Mark Cohen

    1. Hi Mark,

      Sorry about that. Things have been a bit hectic lately with all the changes due to the break up.

      I should hopefully have things back on track sooner rather than later.

      I’m not able to access the mailing database any more so it would help if you could give me your email address again.

      All the best,

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  24. No reason to have to wait until Friday for Eddie to post another puzzle. (Thanks btw).

    There’s a long, narrow room – it might be a hallway. No wait, it’s a walk-in wardrobe. Or larder.

    Anyway it’s a rectangular prism 5 metres long, 1.5 m wide and 3 m high. Actually, it’s a panic room. It’s completely empty and doesn’t have any doors or windows so you would almost certainly panic if you were inside it.

    There is a female beetle on one of the smaller walls at one end of the room. It is 0.5 m below the ceiling and equidistant from either of the two longer walls (ie 0.75 m). A male beetle is on the opposite smaller wall, equidistant from the two larger walls and 0.5 m above the floor.

    Thee male beetle somehow knows that the female beetle is there and wants to go over to her. Obviously he can’t see her because, like all insects, he is quite short-sighted. I mean, he doesn’t even have any superannuation. It’s probably magic. Or pheromones maybe.

    Like all beetles, he can fly, but like a lot of them he prefers to walk. What is the shortest distance he can walk in order to meet up with his sweet-smelling lady beetle (not Lady beetle)?

    1. @Eddie – yeah, wrote it and then sort of regretted it but there’s never been an edit facility on this blog (except where the question got changed).
      I don’t know the background, so: sorry Richard – if indeed it was Richard that posted.

      but @AOM, I liked that one. Took a bit of scribbling and a calculator with a SQRT function but I have an answer.
      Of course it assumes that she is not likewise attracted to him and meets him half-way – or conversely thinks she is walking towards him while actually matching his movements and keeping the distance between them the same.

    2. I make it 6.8m. Here’s how I did it:

      If you take just the two walls on which the bugs are sitting, plus one long side wall and fold them out flat, you can draw a straight line from one bug to the other. This line is the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle, whose other sides are:

      – length 6.5m (the side parallel to the long edge, which goes 0.75m over small wall, 5m along long wall, 0.75m over small wall) and

      – 2m (the side parallel to the edge joining the small and long wall), distance is 3m less twice 0.5m given the bugs positions.

      6.8^2 = 2^2 + 6.5^2 so by Pythagoras, 6.8m is the answer.

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  26. If you like doodling this puzzle’s for you. At the start of movie ‘Good Will Hunting’ there is a maths problem. It’s described by a chirpy chap on the youtube clip “The problem in Good will hunting – Numberphile”.The problem is to: “draw all homeomorphically irreducible trees of size n = 10.” Stop watching the clip at approximately 3:30 and have a go. It’s good fun!

    1. @Edie

      Continuing to add puzzles will not bring Mr Wiseman back. He has gone. The math-obsessed commentators who excluded all of us with more heuristic intuitional skills have also driven him away.

      If only the likes of @steve and @simon had a little more humility and humanity this blow would have thrived. And they would have learned valuable lessons about life and it’s infinite variations.

      Instead the blog became a desert of similteneous equations. So sad to see that happen.

    1. Judging by your random and free form use of punctuation and capitalisation in many of your earlier posts, in my humble opinion, I think you may want to refrain from casting the first stone.

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