1. Wat?
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    17 Sep '11 11:25
    The Emperor

    You are the ruler of a medieval empire and you are about to have a celebration tomorrow. The celebration is the most important party you have ever hosted. You've got 1000 bottles of wine you were planning to open for the celebration, but you find out that one of them is poisoned.

    The poison exhibits no symptoms until death. Death occurs within ten to twenty hours after consuming even the minutest amount of poison.

    You have over a thousand slaves at your disposal and just under 24 hours to determine which single bottle is poisoned.

    You have a handful of prisoners about to be executed, and it would mar your celebration to have anyone else killed.

    What is the smallest number of prisoners you must have to drink from the bottles to be absolutely sure to find the poisoned bottle within 24 hours?

    If you want to be analytical please try to work out the answer and explain why.

    If you want to be boring, and google the answer go ahead, but don't post it!

    -m.
  2. Joined
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    17 Sep '11 17:03
    Binary chop?
  3. Joined
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    18 Sep '11 06:33
    Originally posted by mikelom
    The Emperor

    You are the ruler of a medieval empire and you are about to have a celebration tomorrow. The celebration is the most important party you have ever hosted. You've got 1000 bottles of wine you were planning to open for the celebration, but you find out that one of them is poisoned.

    The poison exhibits no symptoms until death. Death occurs wi ...[text shortened]... in why.

    If you want to be boring, and google the answer go ahead, but don't post it!

    -m.
    test of Reveal Hidden Content
    test


    ignore
  4. Wat?
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    18 Sep '11 07:27
    Originally posted by iamatiger
    Binary chop?
    of sorts....

    Give me a number. 😉
  5. Joined
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    18 Sep '11 08:571 edit
    Hmm ... 10?
  6. Wat?
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    18 Sep '11 11:26
    Well googled. 😀
  7. DonationAnthem
    The Ferocious Camel
    g1
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    18 Sep '11 14:22
    we assign each bottle a number 0 to 999, and then convert to binary. There are at most 10 bits in each (binary) number. Get 10 prisoners. The first drinks from only bottles with a 1 in the first bit, the second from only those with a 1 in the second bit etc.

    Thus if the first prisoner dies the poisoned bottle has a 1 in the first bit of its label etc. Thus we find the poisoned bottle using 10 prisoners.
  8. Joined
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    18 Sep '11 20:292 edits
    Nice one anthem, that's how I did it too, no googling was utilised btw 😉

    You can perhaps speed up the tests by making the servants construct cocktails for the prisoners in 10 buckets. Then the prisoners can't easily foil you by skipping bottles incorrectly.

    The main problem would seem to be in getting the prisoners to take 500 sips of wine without collapsing so you need to be strict on portions. Seeing as there are 150 teaspoons in a standard wine bottle and each prisoner drinks from about 500 bottles, you need to limit the dosage to about 1/3 of a teaspoon from each, and even then the prisoners get pretty smashed, so lets hope the poison is strong!
  9. Standard memberTomCr
    woodpusher
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    19 Sep '11 01:10
    If you don't care about animals dying, get 1000 guinea pigs, and use the 1000 slaves to feed each guinea pig a tiny portion of wine from an individual wine bottle. zero people killed, and bottle is found in 10 to 24 hours. The problem does not say that the poison exclusively affects humans, and virtually anything lethally poisonous to a human will be the same to a guinea pig.
  10. e4
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    21 Sep '11 00:42
    Potatoes.

    If the pioson has a potatoe base then all the guinea pigs will die.

    Potatoes are poisonous to guinea pigs.
  11. THORNINYOURSIDE
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    21 Sep '11 15:30
    Originally posted by mikelom
    The Emperor

    You are the ruler of a medieval empire and you are about to have a celebration tomorrow. The celebration is the most important party you have ever hosted. You've got 1000 bottles of wine you were planning to open for the celebration, but you find out that one of them is poisoned.

    The poison exhibits no symptoms until death. Death occurs wi ...[text shortened]... in why.

    If you want to be boring, and google the answer go ahead, but don't post it!

    -m.
    Why waste good wine on prisoners?

    At an average of six glasses per bottle you are looking at killing as few as 6 people and possible only 1 if the person drinks the whole bottle.

    As the person will not die for 10-20 hours after drinking, it is more than likely they will be home, as the party will be over.

    As such the celebration will not have been marred.
  12. Joined
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    21 Sep '11 19:48
    Follow on question:

    On average, given the suggested strategy, how many of the 10 prisoners will die?
  13. Standard memberwolfgang59
    howling mad
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    22 Sep '11 05:49
    Originally posted by iamatiger
    Follow on question:

    On average, given the suggested strategy, how many of the 10 prisoners will die?
    5
  14. Joined
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    23 Sep '11 14:03
    Originally posted by adramforall
    Why waste good wine on prisoners?

    At an average of six glasses per bottle you are looking at killing as few as 6 people and possible only 1 if the person drinks the whole bottle.

    As the person will not die for 10-20 hours after drinking, it is more than likely they will be home, as the party will be over.

    As such the celebration will not have been marred.
    Besides, you're a depraved, byzantine emperor. The people you invite are going to be your higher-echelon nobles, the equivalent of cardinals in the Roman Catholic church or senior secretaries in the British government - they are, if anything, going to be even more depraved than you are.

    Bill it as a Russian Roulette party, a great opportunity to show how blasé you are by taking this one-in-a-thousand gamble on your life. They will throng to your party like there's no tomorrow - and the one guy for whom there really isn't will be famed in song forever after.

    Richard
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