July 2018
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Pill Popper

Pill Puzzler
You’ve been placed on a course of expensive medication in which you are to take one tablet of medicine A and one tablet of medicine B daily. You must be careful that you take just one of each because taking more of either can have serious side effects. Taking an A without taking a B, or vice versa, can also be very serious, because they must be taken together in order to be effective. In summary, you must take exactly one of the A pills and one of the B pills at one time. Therefore, you open up the A bottle, and you tap one A pill into your hand. You put that bottle aside and you open the B bottle. You do the same, but by mistake, two Bs fall into your hand with the A pill. Now, here’s the problem. You weren’t watching your hand as the pills fell into it, so you can’t tell the A pill apart from the two B pills. The pills look identical. They are the same size, same weight, same color, same everything, and they are not marked differently in any way. What are you going to do? You cannot tell which pill is which, and they cost $100 a piece, so you cannot afford to throw them away and start over again. How do you get your daily dose of exactly one A and exactly one B without wasting any of the pills?

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10 guesses to Pill Popper

  • you put thoes pills aside and start all over 1 each, at the end of the mo. you,ll have less of 1 pill then the other and then you,ll know what to take.

  • Roolstar

    You can find out that you have two B pills and one A in your hand by counting the rest of the pills or continuing normally after putting the 3 aside.

    Still that won’t allow you to find out which pill is which, and you’ll have eventually to take one A pill and choose one of the 3 in your hand with a 2/3 chance of picking a B. But that’s not really a solution here.

    Essentially, the puzzle is reduced to: You have 3 indistinguishable pills in your hand, 2 of them are Bs and one is A. How can you make sure that you are taking exactly one A and one B?

    Well, personally I believe you can’t!

  • Yes, as mentioned, we already know which one will come up missing, it will be “B Pill,” that doesn’t help us in telling them apart. The answer is a good one and very possible. Remember, the question is not how do you tell them apart, it’s: How do you make sure you get one A Pill and one B Pill without wasting any pills. Here’s a hint: It’s in the mathematical category.
    Good luck.

  • Paul

    Take out an A pill leaving two As and two Bs. Half all four pills. Knowing the two halves from the A pill you just took out of the bottle, take one half of that A with one half of each of the three unknown pills, thus assuring yourself of taking two halves of A and two halves of B.

  • Roolstar

    Nicely done Paul!

  • Paul

    Orange-cha kind. Coming from the riddle master, your compliment is most appreciated.

  • Great job, Paul. You’re today’s winner.

  • Arnie A

    Too easy:

    Simply take out another “A” Pill and add to the other three. Now you have 2 A’s and 2 B’s–50-50. Dissolve all 4 pills into a cup (8 oz) of water. Mix thoroughly so you know the pills a completely dissolved. Drink 4 oz of the mixture today and 4 oz tomorrow and you have the proper dose for today and tomorrow. On the following day, go back to 1 A and 1 B.

    Or pulverize all 4 pills into a powder and us 1/2 today and 1/2 tomorrow.

  • nathan

    You drop one more of Pill A out cut them all in half and take 1/2 of each pill for 2 days.

  • Michelle

    Take another pill A out then cut them all in half and take one of each of the halfs. The next day eat the other halfs