June 12, 2024


Today’s puzzles are about deducing the mechanisms behind two extremely puzzling objects: a practical joke cup supposedly invented by Pythagoras and a vehicle that seems to be traveling the wrong way.

1. Pythagoras’ Cup

Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician and mystic, is credited with designing a cup with the following characteristics:

1) If you pour it up to a certain level, it behaves like a regular cup.

2) If you throw it beyond that level all the liquid empty into the cup through a hole at the bottom of the cup.

Can you draw the mechanism inside the cup?

The solution is very simple and has no moving parts. (If you’re a plumber, you might find this very easy.)

The cup is a cute metaphor for moderation in life. Fill it just a little too much and you’ll lose everything.

2. Backward jalopy

Design a simple mechanism for a four-wheeled toy vehicle so that when you pull a piece of string backwards out of the vehicle, the vehicle moves forward.

I’ll be back at 5pm UK with the answers. NO SPOILERS please. Please discuss your favorite engineering-based practical joke objects instead.

I’ve been doing a puzzle here on alternate Mondays since 2015. I’m always on the lookout for great puzzles. If you want to suggest one, email me.



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