Try Solving This Riddle From a High School Math Competition

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iStock

Math olympiads feature some of the brightest minds to enter high school. The problems given to competitors are meant to be tricky, but there’s one question that’s so notorious it even has its own Wikipedia page.

The "Cheryl’s Birthday" riddle first appeared on a math olympiad test given to students in Singapore. Local television presenter Kenneth Kong posted a picture of the original text on Facebook in 2015. The clunky English makes for a riddle that's hard to decipher, so The New York Times published an edited version that reads as follows:

"Albert and Bernard just met Cheryl. 'When’s your birthday?' Albert asked Cheryl. Cheryl thought a second and said, 'I’m not going to tell you, but I’ll give you some clues.' She wrote down a list of 10 dates: May 15, May 16, May 19, June 17, June 18, July 14, July 16, August 14, August 15, August 17. 'My birthday is one of these,' she said. Then Cheryl whispered in Albert’s ear the month—and only the month—of her birthday. To Bernard, she whispered the day, and only the day. 'Can you figure it out now?' she asked Albert. Albert: I don’t know when your birthday is, but I know Bernard doesn’t know, either. Bernard: I didn’t know originally, but now I do. Albert: Well, now I know, too! When is Cheryl’s birthday?"

If you read through this quickly, it’s easy to get lost. How is it possible to guess someone’s birthday when you only have one half of the date? And how could Albert and Bernard help each other guess correctly without sharing their intel out loud? The secret lies in the possible dates Cheryl chooses to share.

In her list, every day is repeated once except for the 18th and the 19th—so if she had whispered “18” in Bernard’s ear he would immediately know her birthday was June 18, and if she’d whispered “19” he’d know it was May 19. Bernard confirms it couldn’t be either of those dates when he says he “didn’t know originally.” That means June and May are no longer options for Albert, which narrows it down to five possibilities: July 14, July 16, August 14, August 15, and August 17.

When Bernard says “I didn’t know[…]but now I do” that disqualifies 14, because in that case he would have two potential answers (July 14 and August 14) to choose from. These leaves three dates—July 16, August 15, and August 17—that could be correct. When Albert says, “Well, now I know too!” he eliminates July from the equation because that’s also a case where he’d be left with two options. July 16 is therefore the one true answer.

Does your head hurt yet? Unfortunately, math problems intended for grade-schoolers in Singapore don’t get much simpler. Check out this perplexing homework problem given to first-graders if you need convincing.

[h/t The New York Times]

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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The Northern Lights Storms Are Getting Names—and You Can Offer Up Your Suggestions

A nameless northern lights show in Ylläs, Finland.
A nameless northern lights show in Ylläs, Finland.
Heikki Holstila, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

While all northern lights are spectacular, they’re not all spectacular in the same way. Aurora borealis, or “northern dawn,” occurs when electrons in the magnetic field surrounding Earth transfer energy to oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere. The molecules then emit the excess energy as light particles, which create scintillating displays whose colors and shapes depend on many known and unknown factors [PDF]—type of molecule, amount of energy transferred, location in the magnetosphere, etc.

Though the “storms” are extremely distinct from each other, they haven’t been named in the past the way hurricanes and other storms are christened. That’s now changing, courtesy of a tourism organization called Visit Arctic Europe. As Travel + Leisure reports, the organization will now christen the strongest storms with Nordic names to make it easier to keep track of them.

“There are so many northern lights visible in Arctic Europe from autumn to early spring that we started giving them names the same way other storms are named. This way, they get their own identities and it’s easier to communicate about them,” Visit Arctic Europe’s program director Rauno Posio explained in a statement.

Scientists will be able to reference the names in their studies, much like they do with hurricanes. And if you’re a tourist hoping to check out other people’s footage of the specific sky show you just witnessed, searching by name on social media will likely turn up better results than a broad “#auroraborealis.”

Visit Arctic Europe has already given names to recent northern lights storms, including Freya, after the Norse goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, and Sampo, after “the miracle machine and magic mill in the Finnish national epic poem, ‘Kalevala.’” A few other monikers pay tribute to some of the organization’s resident “aurora hunters.”

But you don’t have to be a goddess or an aurora hunter in order to get in on the action. Anybody can submit a name (along with an optional explanation for your suggestion) through the “Naming Auroras” page here. It’s probably safe to assume that submissions related to Nordic history or culture have a better chance of being chosen, but there’s technically nothing to stop you from asking Visit Arctic Europe to name a northern lights show after your dog.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]