Terms & Conditions
This is not really a puzzle, merely a curious and clever piece of text.
You can imagine an arrow in flight, toward a target. For the arrow to reach the target, the arrow must first travel half of the overall distance from the starting point to the target. Next, the arrow must travel half of the remaining distance.
For example, if the starting distance was 10m, the arrow first travels 5m, then 2.5m.
If you extend this concept further, you can imagine the resulting distances getting smaller and smaller. Will the arrow ever reach the target?
Hint: This puzzle needs some very careful thinking.
Since the arrow does indeed hit the target, it must be true that 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + ... = 1.
This is because the sum of an infinite series can be a finite number.
Imagine a prisoner in a prison. He is sentenced to death and has been told that he will be killed on one day of the following week. He has been assured that the day will be a surprise to him, so he will not be anticipating the hangman on a particular day, so keeping his stress levels in check.
The prisoner starts to think to himself, if I am still alive on Thursday, then clearly I shall be hanged on Friday, this would mean that I then know the day of my death, therefore I cannot be hanged on Friday. Now then, if I am still alive on Wednesday, then clearly I shall be hanged on Thursday, since I have already ruled out Friday. The prisoner works back with this logic, finally concluding that he cannot after all be hanged, without already knowing which day it was.
Casually, resting on his laurels, sitting in his prison cell on Tuesday, the warden arrives to take him to be hanged, the prisoner was obviously surprised!
Hint: Be careful not to let your brain melt on this one.
Answer: This puzzle is a classic paradox. You are led through a sequence of seemingly valid arguments which lead to a conclusion, which quite clearly cannot be true.
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