Not so complicated...

My sister sent me an email with a story about a jar, and it reminded me of a story I heard when I was in college.
A professor presented his class with this hands on problem. He took them to the roof and showed them a three foot section of  pipe that was fixed to the building. The pipe was just big enough to drop a ping pong ball into and was sealed at the bottom. The professor had carried a box up with them and gave it to the students saying, "You can use anything in this box to solve the problem of how to retrieve these ping pong balls." He dropped 3 balls into the pipe and sat back to watch his students. Immediately, the students pulled stuff out of the box -- on top was a cooler filled with beer, under that was a length of hose, string, hooks, wire clothes hangers, etc. Some of the students immediately began poking things into the tube and some just sat back to think and sketch. After an hours, the students had made no progress and it was getting hot on the roof top. Several of the students began to argue about a machine they were building with the tubing -- the idea was to suction the ping pong balls back up. The professor opened the cooler and helped himself to a beer. The students struggled on and it just kept getting hotter. At the end of the next hour, the professor drank another beer. At the end of the third hour, the students were hot and exhausted. "We give up," they told the professor, "We can't figure it out." The professor walked over to the cooler pulled out four beers and said, "Sometimes the solution to a complicated problem is simple." Then he poured the four beers into the pipe and the ping pong balls popped out. He turned and said, "Class dismissed." 

Posted 7 years ago by MoM4.6 Subscriber! | Permalink


  • Excellent!

    So, sometimes the solution is beer at hand?
    Posted 7 years ago by Carl Projectorinski Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Heh, we used to play all sorts of thought games like that back when I was in highschool and college. For the physics and engineering students I knew, it was an almost mandatory "badge" to come up with a half dozen or more  ways to solve a problem. I liked your story, although I'll admit I never heard it before. I got the solution about half way through reading, right after the prof cracked open his first cold one.... (next time, leave the solution out until a few days have passed...)
    Posted 7 years ago by Woochi Subscriber! | Permalink