Fraudulent InventorScience brain teasers require understanding of the physical or biological world and the laws that govern it.
Professor Lipshultz was showing off his new inventions to a prospective investor. He told the investor that he had developed machines which would allow scientists to study the motion of gas molecules. His explanation of the machines was as follows:
"The first unit will take in any gas and completely dry it, removing all traces of liquid. Right now it is removing water vapor from air...and now you can see the "DRY" light has come on.
The second unit removes all but one molecule from the chamber. There you see the "READY" light, indicating that only a single molecule remains.
The third unit will analyze the contents of the chamber, determining exactly what chemicals are in the chamber, and in what quantity. And as you can see on the screen, the unit indicates 'Air: 1 molecule'.
The final machine will trace the exact path that the molecule takes as it bounces around the chamber. The path is represented by the lines on this computer screen."
"I'm sorry," said the investor, "but you're obviously lying to me. I can accept the fact that three of the four machines COULD work as you say, but one of them is obviously a fake."
Which machine was the fake?
HintWhat exactly is in the chamber at each step?
AnswerThe third unit, which analyzed the contents of the chamber, is definitely a fake. "Air" is a name that we give to the combination of gasses that make up our atmosphere. It is made up of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and trace amounts of several other chemicals. Because of this, there is no such thing as one molecule of air. Assuming that there is only one molecule in the chamber, it would either be oxygen, nitrogen, or one of the other chemicals. A piece of analysis equipment would never call it "air".
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