iStock / VeraPetruk
iStock / VeraPetruk

Can You Solve the Pirate Riddle?

iStock / VeraPetruk
iStock / VeraPetruk

In the video riddle below, we explore the distribution of pirates' booty. It gets complicated.

The scenario is this: Amaro is the captain of a pirate ship. His mateys, Bart, Charlotte, Daniel, and Eliza, are the other members of the crew. The group has come upon a bounty of 100 gold coins, and now must divide it up among the group according to "the pirate's code."

The code stipulates that Amaro, as captain, gets to suggest the first plan for distributing the coins among the five pirates. After that proposal, each pirate (including Amaro) votes "yarr" or nay on whether to accept the proposal. If the proposal results in either a tied vote (equal numbers "yarr"/nay) or a majority of "yarrs," it passes and the coins are immediately distributed. If it fails to meet this threshold, Amaro must walk the plank, making Bart the next captain. (Amaro walking the plank removes him from future votes, as well as eligibility for coin disbursals, on account of his death. Yuck.)

This process now repeats with Bart as captain, and the captain's hat will be passed on, in order, to Charlotte, Daniel, and finally Eliza. (If it gets all the way to Eliza without a passing proposal, she gets the booty.)

To make the situation more complex, there are rules governing how the pirates act. First, they each want to stay alive (that's their highest priority), but their next priority is maximizing their personal gold horde. Second, they distrust each other—there are no alliances and they cannot collaborate on a strategy. Third, they are bloodthirsty, and would love to see a fellow pirate walk the plank if they think it won't affect their own gold distribution. Fourth, each pirate has excellent logical deduction skills, and they're aware that everyone has the same skills. For the purposes of the puzzle, we can assume everyone is logical and obeys all the rules.

So we arrive at the key problem for Amaro: What distribution should he propose to ensure he lives and maximizes his own gold return? In order to figure this out, we have to walk through the chain of events and sort it out. Get your scratch paper ready!

The video below explains this puzzle (and its solution); here are the "rules" as stated at the 1:48 freeze-frame:

1. The captain makes a proposal for splitting up the 100 gold coins, which everyone votes on. A proposal that gets a tie or a majority of yarrs passes. A proposal with a majority of nays fails, and the captain has to walk the plank. The new captain then makes a proposal. The order of succession is Amaro, Bart, Charlotte, Daniel, and Eliza.

2. Each pirate's primary objective is to stay alive.

3. Each pirate's secondary objective is to maximize his or her gold.

4. Each pirate will vote to make the others walk the plank, all other results being equal. There are no abstentions.

5. Each pirate knows that the others share the same set of preferences.

6. Pirates cannot collaborate, make promises to each other, or form alliances; there is no communication outside the proposal and the votes, and no other trickery like murder or bribery. Even though they're pirates.

7. Each pirate is a perfect logician and all of them know this about each other.

Think on this a bit, and for the answer, have a look:

For more on the puzzle, check out this TED-Ed page. For a solution (and longer/more complex versions), read this PDF of an article by Ian Stewart.

TAKWest, Youtube
Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]

Watch a Chain of Dominos Climb a Flight of Stairs

Dominos are made to fall down—it's what they do. But in the hands of 19-year-old professional domino artist Lily Hevesh, known as Hevesh5 on YouTube, the tiny plastic tiles can be arranged to fall up a flight of stairs in spectacular fashion.

The video spotted by Thrillist shows the chain reaction being set off at the top a staircase. The momentum travels to the bottom of the stairs and is then carried back up through a Rube Goldberg machine of balls, cups, dominos, and other toys spanning the steps. The contraption leads back up to the platform where it began, only to end with a basketball bouncing down the steps and toppling a wall of dominos below.

The domino art seems to flow effortlessly, but it took more than a few shots to get it right. The footage below shows the 32nd attempt at having all the elements come together in one, unbroken take. (You can catch the blooper at the end of an uncooperative basketball ruining a near-perfect run.)

Hevesh’s domino chains that don't appear to defy gravity are no less impressive. Check out this ambitious rainbow domino spiral that took her 25 hours to construct.

[h/t Thrillist]


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