Puzzle 10 – Can you solve it?

It’s our final puzzle…..

A millionaire tells his two sons to buy two horses and ride to a town 5 miles away. The one whose horse is slower wins and will inherit his fortune. After thinking about the race for days, the brothers ask a wise man for guidance. Upon receiving the advice, they jump on their horses and race to the town as fast as they can.

What did the wise man say to them?

Yesterday I posted this puzzle….

What phrases are represented here….

2 mothers and 2 daughters go out for lunch. They order 6 slices of pizza and can share the slices equally between them.

If you haven’t tried to solve it, have a go now. For everyone else, the answer is below….

If the group consists of a grandmother and her daughter and her granddaughter, then the 3 of them would constitute 2 mothers and 2 daughters. Thus the 6 pieces can be evenly shared between the 3 of them.

I hope you enjoyed the 10 puzzles. Stay safe and I hope to see you soon. Oh, and if you need the answer to the horse puzzle, here it is…..

The wise man told them to swap horses.  Given that the money will go to the slower horse, by swapping horses each son will try to get to the town first, thus creating a proper race.

Puzzle 9 – Can you solve it?

Only two more puzzles to go! Here is today’s puzzle…..

2 mothers and 2 daughters go out for lunch. They order 6 slices of pizza and can share the slices equally between them.

How is this possible?

Yesterday I posted this puzzle….

What phrases are represented here….

1) sta4nce

2) Give Give Give Give Get Get Get Get

3) 1245safety78271

If you haven’t tried to solve it, have a go now. For everyone else, the answer is below….

1) For instance

2) Forgive and forget

3) Safety in numbers

Follow the blog for more daily puzzles. See you tomorrow!

Puzzle 8 – Can you solve it?

Here is today’s puzzle…..

What phrases are represented here….

1) sta4nce

2) Give Give Give Give Get Get Get Get

3) 1245safety78271

Yesterday I posted this puzzle….

Yesterday I went fishing.  I caught a fish that had a length of 30 inches plus half its own length.

If you haven’t tried to solve it, have a go now. For everyone else, the answer is below….

If the fish was 30 inches long plus half its length, then half of the fish must be 30 inches, making the whole fish 60 inches long.

Follow the blog for more daily puzzles. See you tomorrow!

Puzzle 7 – Can you solve it?

I can’t believe that we are into a week of puzzle solving already. I hope you are having fun.  Here is today’s puzzle…..

Yesterday I went fishing.  I caught a fish that had a length of 30 inches plus half its own length.

How long was the fish?

Yesterday I posted this puzzle….

My friend Albert is trying to open a safe.  The following numbers are on the safe door….

77 – 49 – 36 – xx

…the next number in the sequence will open the safe.

What number should Albert use to get inside the safe?

If you haven’t tried to solve it, have a go now. For everyone else, the answer is below….

The sequence involves multiplying the two numbers together to get the next number….

7×7 =49

4×9= 36

… and so the number that Albert was after was 3×6=18

Follow the blog for more daily puzzles. See you tomorrow!

Puzzle 6 – Can you solve it?

OK, here is the new puzzle…..

My friend Albert is trying to open a safe.  The following numbers are on the safe door….

77 – 49 – 36 – xx

…the next number in the sequence will open the safe.

What number should Albert use to get inside the safe?

Yesterday I posted this puzzle….

Erica has two children. One of them is male. What is the probability of her other child also being male?

If you haven’t tried to solve it, have a go now. For everyone else, the answer is below….

Let’s imagine that Erica has two children. Assuming that they were not born at the exact same time, there are four possible combinations….
Male Male

Male Female

Female Male

Female Female

This will give rise to 50% males and 50% females. However, we know that one of Erica’s children is male, therefore she cannot fall into the last category, thus leaving us with…..
Male Male

Male Female

Female Male

All of these options are equally likely, so the chances of her other child being male is one third.

Any other answers? If so, post them below.

Follow the blog for more daily puzzles. See you tomorrow!

Puzzle 5 – Can you solve it?

OK, here is the new puzzle…..

Erica has two children. One of them is male. What is the probability of her other child also being male?

Yesterday I posted this puzzle….

A camper walks one mile south from their tent. They then walk one mile west and has a little dance with a bear. Then they walk one mile north, and find themselves back at their camp.

What colour was the bear?

If you haven’t tried to solve it, have a go now. For everyone else, the answer is below, along with another puzzle….

The camper had a dance with a white bear because the directions only make sense if he was at the North Pole!

Follow the blog for more daily puzzles. See you tomorrow!

Puzzle 4 – Can you solve it?

OK, here is today’s new puzzle…..

A camper walks one mile south from their tent. They then walk one mile west and has a little dance with a bear. Then they walk one mile north, and find themselves back at their camp.

What colour was the bear?

Yesterday I posted this puzzle…..

Here are four suspects, and one of them has committed a crime.  They make the following statements, but only one of them is telling the truth.  Who committed the crime?

Jon: James did it.
James: Bob did it.
Sid: I didn’t do it.
Bob: James is lying.

If you haven’t tried to solve it, have a go now. For everyone else, the answer is below, along with another puzzle….

If Sid is innocent, then his statement is true and so the other three suspects are lying. But that means that Bob is also telling the truth, a contradiction. So Sid can’t be innocent and so he must be murderer.

As ever, follow the blog for your daily puzzle. See you tomorrow!

Puzzle 3 – Can you solve it?

Here is today’s new puzzle…..

There are four suspects and one of them has committed a crime.  They make the following statements, but only one of them is telling the truth.  Who committed the crime?

Jon: James did it.
James: Bob did it.
Sid: I didn’t do it.
Bob: James is lying.

Yesterday I posted this puzzle…..

Your task is to identify the phrase indicated in the following types of words….

YOU JUST ME

In this instance the answer is ‘just between you and me’.

See you get on with these six:

1) SALE SALE SALE SALE

2) STAND
I

3) BRO KEN

4) R | E | A | D | I | N | G

5) TIMING TI-MING

6) THE GORILLAS MIST

If you haven’t tried to solve it, have a go now. For everyone else, the answers are below….

OK, here we go…..

1) FOR SALE

2) I UNDERSTAND

3) BROKEN IN HALF

4) READING BETWEEN THE LINES

5) SPLIT SECOND TIMING

6) GORILLAS IN THE MIST

Feel free to follow the blog for a free daily puzzle. See you tomorrow!

Puzzle 2 – Can you solve it?

Welcome puzzle-fiends! Here is today’s puzzle…..

Your task is to identify the phrase indicated in the following types of words….

YOU JUST ME

In this instance the answer is ‘just between you and me’.

See you get on with these six:

1) SALE SALE SALE SALE

2) STAND
I

3) BRO KEN

4) R | E | A | D | I | N | G

5) TIMING TI-MING

6) THE GORILLAS MIST

Feel free to say if you think you have solved them, and even offer clues, but please don’t post the answer.

Yesterday I posted this puzzle….

What letter comes next in this sequence….

W, L, C, N, I, T,_

and how about this one?

O, T, T, F, F, S,_

And finally, this one….

A, S, D, F, G, H,_

If you haven’t tried to solve it, have a go now. For everyone else, here are the answers…

W, L, C, N, I, T,_

These are the first letter of the first six words in the sentence….

What Letter Comes Next In These Sequences

and so the next letter is S

O, T, T, F, F, S,_

This the old classic, One, Two, Three. Four, etc., and so the next letter is S (for Seven)

A, S, D, F, G, H,_

And these are the order of the letters on the middle row of a keyboard, so the next letter is J.

Feel free to follow this blog for more daily puzzles. See you tomorrow!

Puzzle 1 – Can you solve it?

I thought it would be a good time to revisit posting some puzzles. Each day I will post a puzzle and then post the answer the following day. So, here we go with our very first puzzle….

What letter comes next in this sequence….

W, L, C, N, I, T,_

and how about this one?

O, T, T, F, F, S,_

And finally, this one….

A, S, D, F, G, H,_

Feel free to say if you think you have solved it, and even offer clues, but please don’t post the answer.

Oh, and feel free to subscribe to the blog to get a notification of each daily puzzle. See you tomorrow!

Hocus Pocus – the comic that reads your mind!

I am delighted to announce the arrival of the first issue of Hocus Pocus!

I have teamed up with talented illustrator Jordan Collver, writer Rik Worth and colourist Owen Watts to create a comic about magic, mystery, science and the paranormal.

The comic allows you to travel back in time and discover the ‘strange but true’ stories of Victorian mind reader Irving Bishop, pioneering paranormal scientist J B Rhine and Alexander, the mysterious man who knows all. Along the way you will discover the secret science of psychic readings, test your extra-sensory perception and meet a talking horse. Entertaining and educational, it is beautifully printed on heavy card. Not only that, but if you are into magic, you can use the comic to perform several mind reading miracles.

Copies are onside from Travelling Man here

If you are a magician you can get a copy (including secret stuff) from PropDog here

And the magazines website is here.

“From the very first page, Hocus Pocus is a truly mind blowing read….one of the most inventive and gorgeous comics we have read this year”
Pipeline Comics. Full review here.

Golden Grolla Award

I am delighted and honoured that the Masters Of Magic have announced that they will be giving me a Golden Grolla award for my work into psychology and illusion.

Established in 1953, this is one of the oldest awards in the entertainment world, with previous recipients including Federico Fellini, David Copperfield, Paul Daniels, Dynamo, David Blaine, David Berglas, Arturo Brachetti and Silvan.

This year the other recipient is the multi-talented actor, director and magician, Andy Nyman. Andy co-created the hit stage show ‘Ghost Stories’, has directed several Derren Brown shows, and recently took the lead role in the West-End musical, ‘Fiddler On The Roof’. The two of us met over 20 years ago when we created and performed a Victorian seance show together, and so I am delighted that he is a fellow awardee.

Both awards will be presented at a ceremony in May, and if you are into magic please come along for four days of shows, lectures and talks.

Monkey Cage and Laughlab

I recently appeared on Radio 4’s ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’, to chat about the psychology of comedy alongside Frank Skinner, Prof Sophie Scott, Robin Ince and Brian Cox. Fun was had and you can listen to the recording here.

I spoke about a project that I conducted a few years ago called ‘Laughlab’. Billed as ‘the scientific search for the world’s funniest joke’, this online experiment ran for a year and was reported across the globe.

The project website had two sections.  In one part, people could input their favourite joke and submit it to an archive.  In the second section, people could answer a few simple questions about themselves (such as their sex, age, and nationality), and then rate how funny they found five randomly selected jokes on a five-point scale ranging from ‘not very funny’ to ‘very funny’.

Picture[1]

During the project, we approached some of Britain’s best-known scientists and science writers, and ask them to submit their favourite jokes into LaughLab.   The joke that went on to win the ‘best joke submitted by a well-known scientist’ category, was submitted by Nobel laureate, and professor of chemistry, Sir Harry Kroto:

A man walking down the street sees another man with a very big dog.  The man says: “Does your dog bite?” The other man replies: “No, my dog doesn’t bite”.  The first man then pats the dog, has his hand bitten off, and shouts; “I thought you said your dog didn’t bite”. The other man replies: “That’s not my dog”.

clown2

The comedy K
Early in the experiment, we received the following submission:

There were two cows in a field. One said: “Moo.” The other one said: “I was going to say that!”

We decided to use the joke as a basis for a little experiment, and re-entered the joke into archive several times, using a different animal and noise.  We had two tigers going ‘Gruurrr’, two birds going ‘Cheep’, two mice going ‘Eeek’, two dogs going ‘Woof’, and so on.  At the end of the study, we examined what effect the different animals had had on how funny people found the joke.

The winning animal noise joke was:

Two ducks were sitting in a pond, one of the ducks said: “Quack.” The other duck said: “I was going to say that!”

Interestingly, the ‘k’ sound (as in the ‘hard c’) is associated with both the word ‘Quack’ and ‘duck’, has long been seen by comedians and comedy writers as being especially funny.  The idea of the comedy ‘k’ has certainly made it into popular culture.  There was also an episode of The Simpsons, in which Krusty The Clown (note the ‘k’s) visits a faith healer because he has paralysed his vocal chords trying to cram too many ‘comedy k’s’ into his routines.  After being healed, Krusty exclaims that he is overjoyed to get his comedy k’s back, celebrates by shouting out ‘King Kong’, ‘cold-cock’, ‘Kato Kaelin’, and kisses the faith healer as a sign of gratitude.

reveal

By the end of the project the project had received 40,000 jokes, and had them rated by more than 350,000 people from 70 countries.  They were awarded a Guinness World Record for conducting one of the largest experiments in history, and made the cover story of The New Yorker.

We carefully went through the huge archive and found our top joke:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed.  The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services.  He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?”.  The operator says “Calm down.  I can help.  First, let’s make sure he’s dead.”  There is a silence, then a shot is heard.  Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?”

Five years after the study, we came across a documentary about Spike Milligan (‘ I Told You I Was Ill’) that contained a brief clip from a 1951 BBC programme called London Entertains with the following early Goon sketch:

Michael Bentine: I just came in and found him lying on the carpet there. 
Peter Sellers: Oh, is he dead? 
Michael Bentine: I think so. 
Peter Sellers: Hadn’t you better make sure? 
Michael Bentine: Alright. Just a minute. 
Sound of two gun shots. 
Michael Bentine: He’s dead.

This is clearly an early version of our winning joke. It is highly unusual to be able to track down the source of a joke, because their origins tend to become lost in the mists of time.  Spike Milligan had died in 2002, but I contacted his daughter Sile, and she confirmed that it was highly likely that her father would have written the material.

LaughLab has now finished but is described in my book, Quirkology.

And you can download over 1000 of the LaughLab jokes (all clean!) here.