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Life or Death? The Emperor's Proposition

Probability puzzles require you to weigh all the possibilities and pick the most likely outcome.

 

Puzzle ID:#15446
Fun:**** (3.15)
Difficulty:** (1.8)
Category:Probability
Submitted By:pete**
Corrected By:Mogmatt16

 

 

 



You are a prisoner sentenced to death. The Emperor offers you a chance to live by playing a simple game. He gives you 50 black marbles, 50 white marbles and 2 empty bowls. He then says, "Divide these 100 marbles into these 2 bowls. You can divide them any way you like as long as you use all the marbles. Then I will blindfold you and mix the bowls around. You then can choose one bowl and remove ONE marble. If the marble is WHITE you will live, but if the marble is BLACK... you will die."

How do you divide the marbles up so that you have the greatest probability of choosing a WHITE marble?



Answer

Place 1 white marble in one bowl, and place the rest of the marbles in the other bowl (49 whites, and 50 blacks).

This way you begin with a 50/50 chance of choosing the bowl with just one white marble, therefore life! BUT even if you choose the other bowl, you still have ALMOST a 50/50 chance at picking one of the 49 white marbles.

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