# Impossible Riddle!

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jonny K, Apr 7, 2003.

1. ### Jonny K Second Unit

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My math prof at University tells the class that if we can provide an acceptable explanation for this riddle, we get bonus marks. He also said that nobody has been able to solve it since he was in high school (a VERY long time ago). Have a go at it! I know there's no way I'll be able to solve it:

Question: Why is a mouse when it spins?

Answer: Because the higher the fewer.

And yes, that is the exact correct grammer.

Thanks.

Jonny K.

2. ### Bob Kavanaugh Second Unit

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Patrick Nethercot, of Durham, offers a reasonable explanation: "This peculiar saying relates to a certain type of governor on steam engines, whereby revolutions of the engine are reduced if a spinning weight (mouse) is lifted up a shaft by its centrifugal force, releasing steam pressure and ensuring fewer revs: the higher, the fewer. Such systems were common on static engines like those found originally in cotton mills in the heyday of the steam revolution."

3. ### Allen_Appel Second Unit

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God bless the Internet. I bet your math professor soon stops asking this question.

4. ### Jonny K Second Unit

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Yeah, I agree! The internet rocks!

Jonny K.

5. ### Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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6. ### JayV Supporting Actor

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Could "why" be Y, as in a variable?

Y = Mouse WHEN Y = Spins

Or something.

And then you fill in some math-oriented symbols and terminology, figure out the riddle, win the Publisher's Sweepstakes, and there you go!

-j

7. ### Doug_H Supporting Actor

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this nonsense question was popular among the RAF apprentices at Halton, Bucks, in the early 1950s, when the full version was: 'Why is a mouse when it spins? Because the higher they fly the fewer, and the engine driver's name was Smith. Why was his name Smith? Because his father's name was Smith.' Apart from the logic of the last bit, the repartee had no meaning whatsoever and was probably the precursor of the Monty Python type of humor." Geoff Black, of Cambridge, added "the correct wording should have been 'Why does a mouse when it spins?' with the then obvious answer 'Higher or lower'. At least that was the version which sixth formers at Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool used in the early 1960s to test the gullibility of younger members of the school such as myself. It was rumored that it had been devised by John Lennon, a pupil at the school until 1959, but perhaps I am being gullible in believing this." Maurice F. deCogan, of Dalkey, County Dublin, spins his own tale: "1919 - The Black and Tans were prodding the armchairs with bayonets to see if the stuffing was hand-grenades. We kids were lined against the wall. 'When is your husband expected?' the officer asked my mother. 'When is a mouse when she spins?' she replied, adding, to his elevated eyebrows, 'The higher the fewer'. He and we knew the conversation was closed. He gathered his men and left - without finding the wireless transmitter under the aspidistra." Peter M. Horsey MA, of Stockbury, Sittingbourne, Kent, says that the riddle fist came to his attention when he was a student fresher in 1942: "At the same time another phrase was popular. In answer to any question to which one could give no answer, such as 'Have you seen so-and-so?' or 'Have you read such-and-such?' the reply would be 'No, but my sister rides a bicycle.' There was also a sort of son-of-mouse to which the answer was 'No, but you can clean a straw hat with a lemon.' Unfortunately I've forgotten the question. Although this appears to be so much student nonsense, it taught me the meaning of non sequitur. As Hugh Lloyd said to Tony Hancock in The Blood Donor, 'For things unknown there is no knowing.'" Finally Patrick Nethercot, of Durham, offers a reasonable explanation: "This peculiar saying relates to a certain type of governor on steam engines, whereby revolutions of the engine are reduced if a spinning weight (mouse) is lifted up a shaft by its centrifugal force, releasing steam pressure and ensuring fewer revs: the higher, the fewer. Such systems were common on static engines like those found originally in cotton mills in the heyday of the steam revolution."

8. ### Bill Griffith Supporting Actor

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IMHO

Why is a mouse when it spins? - The higher the Fewer.

This "question" has been around for a very, very, very, very, very, very, very long time. Its found in all sorts of literature, of differing genres.

Its similar to "If a tree falls in the woods and your not there does it make any sound?" and "What is the sound of 1 hand clapping?"

both of these are very Zen type questions posed to people to make them start thinking "outside of the box"

There really is no real answer to philisophical statements such as these.

It's not a riddle as most of us would think of a riddle.

9. ### TimDoss Second Unit

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Why is a mouse when it spins...
"Y" is a spinning mouse...
if you spin a mouse on it's nose the tail will fall slightly
to one side giving it the appearance of the letter "Y"

Because the higher the fewer...
[email protected] if I know... maybe because the higher the mouse
is (think length of the mouse from nose to tail, standing
it on it's nose, that would be heighth) the fewer turns
it will make when you spin it, then it falls over and is
not a "Y" anymore.

10. ### Anders Englund Second Unit

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TimDoss:

The higher you try to stack the spinning mice, the fewer you'll have left standing.

--Anders

11. ### Jonny K Second Unit

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Just an update...

My prof accepted the answer and I scored 100% on my lowest exam mark.

Thanks.

Jonny K.

12. ### Yee-Ming Producer

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sheesh Jonny, that sounds a bit like the possibly apocryphal story going around in my uni that in a philosophy exam, the question "What is guts?" was met by a one-line answer "This is guts", or a blank sheet, depending on the version, and was awarded full marks.

13. ### Allen_Appel Second Unit

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One word test: "Why?"

14. ### Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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15. ### Jonny K Second Unit

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"claps with one hand"

That's always what I think about when I hear that.

Jonny K.