15 November 2013

The Mathematician, The Philosopher, and the Camels.

A man who had seventeen camels and three sons died.

When the last will and testament was read, it stated that one half of the camels would be for his oldest son, one third for the second, and one ninth for the third. What to do? There were seventeen camels so how could you give half to the oldest son? One of the animals would have to be cut in half. This wouldn't resolve the problem either because one third still needed to go to the second son and one ninth to the third.

The sons went to look for the smartest man in the city who was also a mathematician. He thought hard about the problem but couldn't come up with a reasonable solution that wouldn't damage the camels. Then someone suggested: "It might be better to look for somebody who knows about camels and not mathematics".  The boys finally found a philosopher who seemed to know a lot about various things and who had some experience in these matters. They explained the problem to him. The philosopher laughed and said, "Don't worry about it. The solution is quite". Now it just so happened that the philosopher had recently been given the gift of a camel so he lent it to the boys to help them even up the account.

Now there were eighteen camels instead of seventeen, thus making the problem much easier to deal with. The philosopher began to divvy up the camels. He gave nine to the oldest son who was very satisfied because this was half of the camels. To the second son he gave six camels which was a third of the camels, and he gave two camels, which represented one ninth, to the third son. Guess what? There was one camel left over which was returned to the philosopher.

Let's see...
17+1= 18
Oldest son gets 18/2= 9 camels
Second son gets 18/3= 6 camels
Third son gets 18/9= 2 camels
Total camels in the father's will 9+6+2= 17 camels
18-17= 1 camel returned to the lender.

So what's wrong with that?

6 comments:

Ken Richards said...

good one! Waiting for answer - breathlessly.

Bob Mrotek said...

Ken, the answer is 42 :)

Ken Richards said...

42? Good number; thanks. I can breathe now. Wheeeeeewwwwwww.

Johnny Townsend said...

9 is more than 1/2 of 17
6 is more than 1/3 of 17
2 is more than 1/9 of 17

It's not an accurate dispersal as was designated in the will. However, if all parties are happy with the transaction, who's to mind...

Bob Mrotek said...

Thanks Johnny! I agree with you about the math AND the diplomacy :)

RETA said...

I am impressed!(I do not have a math-mind).

RETA@ http://evenhaazer.blogspot.com

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.