Tag Archives: travel puzzles

Skating Rendezvous Problem

This is a fun problem from the 1989 American Invitational Mathematics Exam (AIME).

“Two skaters, Allie and Billie, are at points A and B, respectively, on a flat, frozen lake. The distance between A and B is 100 meters. Allie leaves A and skates at a speed of 8 meters per second on a straight line that makes a 60° angle with AB. At the same time Allie leaves A, Billie leaves B at a speed of 7 meters per second and follows the straight path that produces the earliest possible meeting of the two skaters, given their speeds. How many meters does Allie skate before meeting Billie?”

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Mountain Climbing Puzzle

This puzzle from the Scottish Mathematical Council (SMC) Middle Mathematics Challenge has an interesting twist to it.

“Two young mountaineers were descending a mountain quickly at 6 miles per hour. They had left the hostel late in the day, had climbed to the top of the mountain and were returning by the same route.  One said to the other “It was three o’clock when we left the hostel. I am not sure if we will be back before nine o’clock.” His companion replied “Our pace on the level was 4 miles per hour and we climbed at 3 miles per hour. We will just make it.” What is the total distance they would cover from leaving the hostel to getting back there?”

See the Mountain Climbing Puzzle.

Parallel Stroll Problem

This is a slightly challenging problem from the 1993 American Invitational Mathematics Exam (AIME).

“Jenny and Kenny are walking in the same direction, Kenny at 3 feet per second and Jenny at 1 foot per second, on parallel paths that are 200 feet apart. A tall circular building 100 feet in diameter is centered midway between the paths. At the instant when the building first blocks the line of sight between Jenny and Kenny, they are 200 feet apart. Find t, the amount of time in seconds, before Jenny and Kenny can see each other again.”

See the Parallel Stroll Problem

Meeting on the Bridge

Here is another Brainteaser from the Quantum math magazine.

“Nick left Nicktown at 10:18 A.M. and arrived at Georgetown at 1:30 P.M., walking at a constant speed. On the same day, George left Georgetown at 9:00 A.M. and arrived at Nicktown at 11:40 A.M., walking at a constant speed along the same road. The road crosses a wide river. Nick and George arrived at the bridge simultaneously, each from his side of the river. Nick left the bridge 1 minute later than George. When did they arrive at the bridge?”

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River Traffic Problem

Here is another elegant Quantum math magazine Brainteaser problem.

“A raft and a motorboat set out downstream from a point A on the riverbank. At the same moment a second motorboat of the same type sets out from point B to meet them. When the first motorboat arrives at B, will the raft (floating with the current) be closer to point A or to the second motorboat? (G. Galperin)”

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Walking Banker Problem

Here is another Brainteaser from the Quantum magazine.

“Mr. R. A. Scall, president of the Pyramid Bank, lives in a suburb rather far from his office. Every weekday a car from the bank comes to his house, always at the same time, so that he arrives at work precisely when the bank opens. One morning his driver called very early to tell him he would probably be late because of mechanical problems. So Mr. Scall left home one hour early and started walking to his office. The driver managed to fix the car quickly, however, and left the garage on time. He met the banker on the road and brought him to the bank. They arrived 20 minutes earlier than usual. How much time did Mr. Scall walk? (The car’s speed is constant, and the time needed to turn around is zero.) (I. Sharygin)”

I struggled with some of the ambiguities in the problem and made my own assumptions.   But it turned out there was a reason they were ambiguous.

See the Walking Banker Problem

The Hose Knows

This is a fairly straight-forward Brainteaser from the Quantum magazine.

“A man is filling two tanks with water using two hoses. The first hose delivers water at the rate of 2.9 liters per minute, the second at a rate of 8.7 liters per minute. When the smaller tank is half full, he switches hoses. He keeps filling the tanks, and they both fill up completely at the same moment. What is the volume of the larger tank if the volume of the smaller tank is 12.6 liters?”

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Bixley to Quixley Puzzle

I braved another attempt at a Sam Loyd puzzle.

“Here is a pretty problem which I figured out during a ride from Bixley to Quixley astride of a razor-back mule. I asked Don Pedro if my steed had another gait, and he said it had but that it was much slower, so I pursued my journey at the uniform speed as shown in the sketch.

To encourage Don Pedro, who was my chief propelling power, I said we would pass through Pixley, so as to get some liquid refreshments; and from that moment he could think of nothing but Pixley. After we had been traveling for forty minutes I asked how far we had gone, and he replied: “Just half as far as it is to Pixley.”  After creeping along for seven miles more I asked: “How far is it to Quixley?” and he replied as before: “Just half as far as it is to Pixley.”

We arrived at Quixley in another hour, which induces me to ask you to figure out the distance from Bixley to Quixley.”

I was disconcerted by what I thought was extraneous information and wondered if I had misunderstood his narrative again.

See the Bixley to Quixley Puzzle

Old Hook Puzzle

Here is another, more challenging, problem from the Sherlock Holmes puzzle book by Dr. Watson (aka Tim Dedopulos).

“An event that occurred during The Adventure of the Wandering Bishops inspired Holmes to devise a particularly tricky little mental exercise for my ongoing improvement. There were times when I thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed his efforts, and times when I found them somewhat unwelcome. I’m afraid that this was one of the latter occasions. It had been a bad week.

‘Picture three farmers,’ Holmes told me. ‘Hooklanders. We’ll call them Ern, Ted, and Hob.’

‘If I must,’ I muttered.

‘It will help,’ Holmes replied. ‘Ern has a horse and cart, with an average speed of eight mph. Ted can walk just one mph, given his bad knee, and Hob is a little better at two mph, thanks to his back.’

‘A fine shower,’ I said. ‘Can’t I imagine them somewhat fitter?’

‘Together, these worthies want to go from Old Hook to Coreham, a journey of 40 miles. So Ern got Ted in his cart, drove him most of the way, and dropped him off to walk the rest. Then he went back to get Hob [who was still walking], and took him into Coreham, arriving exactly as Ted did. How long did the journey take?’

Can you find a solution?”

I added the statement in brackets.  I initially thought Hob waited in Old Hook until Ted fetched him.  But the solution indicated that was not the case.  So I realized Hob had started out at the same time as the others. The solution has some hairy arithmetic.  Even knowing the answer it is difficult to do the computations without a mistake.

See the Old Hook Puzzle