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80 Ball Riddle

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80 Ball Riddle

Icebreaker

80 balls are resting on a table. They are identical except one is lighter than any of the others. You are given an analytical balance and a set of weights. How can you find the light ball in 4 steps?

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80 Balls - Tip

Icebreaker

Disregard the weights -- they are a distraction


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Solution

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80 Balls Answer: Step 1


1a. Split the 80 balls into three groups of 27, 27 and 26

Icebreaker

27

27

26

80 Balls Answer: Step 1

Icebreaker

1b. put a group of 27 on each of the balance plates and leave the remaining group of 26 on the table. 26 27 27

If the balance indicates an imbalance then select the lighter group, discard the other two groups and proceed to the next step. If the balance indicates equally weighted groups then select the group of 26 on the table (the lighter ball must be in this group) and discard the two groups of 27 and proceed to the next step.
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Which Group Do you Want?


27 26

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80 Balls Answer: Step 2

Icebreaker

2a. For group of 27 split into three groups of 9, put two groups of 9 on the balance and 1 group of 9 on the table 9 9 9

If the balance indicates an imbalance then select the lighter group, discard the other two groups and proceed to the next step. If the balance indicates equally weighted groups then select the group of 9 on the table (the lighter ball must be in this group) and discard the two groups of 9 and proceed to the next step.
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80 Balls Answer: Step 2

Icebreaker

2b. For group of 26 split into two groups of 9 (put these on the balance) and one group of 8 on the table 8 9 9

If the balance indicates an imbalance then select the lighter group, discard the other two groups and proceed to the next step. If the balance indicates equally weighted groups then select the group of 8 on the table (the lighter ball must be in this group) and discard the two groups of 9 and proceed to the next step.
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Which Group Do you Want?


9 8

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80 Balls Answer: Step 3


3

Icebreaker

3a. For a group of 9 split into three groups of 3, put two groups of 3 on the balance and 1 group of 3 on the table

If the balance indicates an imbalance then select the lighter group, discard the other two groups and proceed to the next step. If the balance indicates equally weighted groups then select the group of 3 on the table (the lighter ball must be in this group) and discard the two groups of 3 and proceed to the next step.
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80 Balls Answer: Step 3

Icebreaker

3b. Split into two groups of 3 (put these on the balance) and one group of 2 that you will leave on the table. 2

If the balance indicates an imbalance then select the lighter group, discard the other two groups and proceed to the next step.

If the balance indicates equally weighted groups then select the group of 2 on the table (the lighter ball must be in this group) and discard the two groups of 3 and proceed to the next step.
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80 Balls Answer: Step 4

Icebreaker

For a group of 3 you will have a ball on each plate and one on the table to make the decision with. For a group of two just put a ball on each plate to find the lighter one.

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