15 January 2009

How to Stump Blaine the Pain?

I've recently started book four of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, Wolves of Calla.  Trying to avoid spoilers, the protagonists find themselves aboard a monorail train that is driven by a computer thousands of years old.  The computer tells them that it will kill them unless they can provide a riddle it cannot answer correctly.

The idea is fascinating to me.  A computer that's been around and self-aware for millenia.  It's smart.  Really smart.  And it likes to solve riddles.  

I went to bed before reading through this scene to see how the situation is resolved.  It was the first time I've ever dreamt about something I'm reading.  I had a dream where I was also in the protagonists' situation, frantically trying to think of a riddle to stump a super-genius computer.  I thought of two of my favorite riddles, ready to save the day, but woke up before I could finish reciting.  

I thought it was neat that I was dreaming but I was conscious enough to dig through my real memories to find a riddle.  When I woke up, I couldn't stop thinking about ways to stump the machine.  What if you asked it, "What is one divided by zero?"  Would it crash the computer?  Or does he run everything through a try{ ... } catch(exception e) ?  I decided it would not be best to crash a computer controlling a train travelling in excess of 800 miles per hour.  

How would you try to stump a computer that excels at riddles?

In the spirit of riddling, here are the two I had remembered in my dream.  The third is one that I created while laying in bed.  Can you figure them out?

A man who lives in at the top of an apartment building takes the elevator down to the lobby each morning.  When he returns, he takes the elevator half way up and the stairs the rest of the way home.  Why?

Police investigators discovered the corpse of a man who had hung himself in the middle of a room with no windows and the only door bolted shut from the inside.  The room was empty and there is no way he could have lifted himself to the height of the noose by himself.  How did he carry out his death?

I live at the center of my universe; I am neither good or bad; neither happy or sad.  I never add anything to a situation.  What am I?

Answer them in the comments!


  1. i think i've heard the one about the hanging man before, and the answer was he stood on a block of ice... but that riddle i'm pretty sure they told you there was a puddle of water on the floor so maybe this is a different riddle.

  2. same riddle, block of ice is the answer. i dont remember the puddle... i think whoever told it to me said the water evaporated

  3. The first one is very obvious - he was short (midget, dwarf, little person) and could reach the Lobby button, but could not reach the button for the top floor, so he would press the button for the highest floor he could reach, get off, and walk the rest of the way.