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Can you solve Einstein’s puzzle? February 19, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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15 comments

“My IQ is just one point below Einstein’s!” a friend announced recently. This comment kept gnawing at our friend Ben, and finally I consulted Google to see what I could find on the subject of Einstein and IQ. As I suspected, Einstein never took an IQ test, so nobody really knows his IQ. But my friend, whose IQ is 177, wasn’t just engaging in idle boasting, either: Most estimates place Einstein’s IQ between 178 and 180.

However, as our friend Ben was looking for Einstein’s IQ, I came upon something intriguing that I think you’ll enjoy. Listed most frequently as “Einstein’s IQ Test,” it’s actually an exercise in deductive reasoning, aka a puzzle, supposedly invented by Einstein for his students. It presents a hypothetical situation, provides clues, and then poses a question that you’re supposed to answer based on the data you’ve been given. (And yes, it is possible to solve it; our friend Ben did it, but only, I admit, after diagramming it.)

Our friend Ben has no idea if Einstein actually developed this puzzle, or if it somehow became attached to his name in the manner of an urban legend, but I enjoyed working it out and think you will, too. Ready to get started? Here we go:

                Einstein’s Puzzle

The data:

* There are five houses in five different colors.

* In each house lives a person with a different nationality.

* These 5 owners drink a certain type of beverage, smoke a certain type of cigar, and keep a certain type of pet.

* No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar, or drink the same drink.

The question:

Who keeps fish?

The clues:

1. The Brit lives in a red house

2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets

3. The Dane drinks tea

4. The green house is on the left of the white house

5. The green house owner drinks coffee

6. The person who smokes Pall Mall keeps birds

7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill

8. The person living in the house right in the middle drinks milk

9. The Norwegian lives in the first house

10. The person who smokes Blend lives next door to the one who keeps cats

11. The person who keeps horses lives next door to the one who smokes Dunhill

12. The owner who smokes Blue Master drinks beer

13. The German smokes Prince

14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house

15. The person who smokes Blend has a neighbor who drinks water

Have fun and good luck! Remember, the point of the exercise is to determine who keeps fish. You can do it! (And no, there’s no “score” or IQ ranking associated with this puzzle, which is why our friend Ben was puzzled—pardon the pun—as to why it’s known as “Einstein’s IQ Test.”)

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