Sam and the Ingots

SAM the Butcher (whom we met in an earlier Enigma), was the current carry-over champion about to play for the major prize on the high-rating TV game show, "What's That Smell?". Sam, using his extensive experience of odours foul and fair, easily brushed aside all contestants who dared to challenge him.

As a last-ditched effort to stop Sam winning the major prize - which was a trip for two to the largest Limburger Cheese factory in the world - the host decided to change the rules of the major prize round. He asked for suggestions, and one of his cameramen put forward that Sam should identify the smell of a cyanide gas sample. Everyone scoffed at the idea because they wouldn't know what to do with the body.

Eventually, they decided on completely changing the task that Sam would have to perform. They believed that Sam couldn't possibly be a mental-giant, so they set him a logic task.

In front of him, they placed 80 unmarked gold ingots, each of the same size. They told him that one weighed slightly more than the other 79 which were identical. Using a simple balance scale, he must find the odd one out in no more than four weighings.

Sam performed the feat in seconds and was off on his fragrant trip. Unfortunately, the host forgot that Sam was a butcher and used scales everyday. Just how did Sam work it out?


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Copyright Stu Hasic 1998