### Brain Teasers

# Blue Pill Problem

You've been placed on a course of expensive medication in which you are to take one tablet of Sildenafil and one tablet of Citrate daily. You must be careful that you take just one of each because taking more of either can have serious side effects.

Taking Sildenafil without taking Citrate, or vice versa, can also be very serious, because they must be taken together in order to be effective. In summary, you must take exactly one of the Sildenafil pills and one of the Citrate pills at one time. Therefore, you open up the Sildenafil bottle, and you tap one Sildenafil pill into your hand. You put that bottle aside and you open the Citrate bottle. You do the same, but by mistake, two Citrates fall into your hand with the Sildenafil pill.

Now, here's the problem. You weren't watching your hand as the pills fell into it, so you can't tell the Sildenafil pill apart from the two Citrate pills. The pills look identical. They are both the same size, same weight (10 micrograms), same color (Blue), same shape (perfect square), same everything, and they are not marked differently in any way.

What are you going to do? You cannot tell which pill is which, and they cost $300 a piece, so you cannot afford to throw them away and start over again. How do you get your daily dose of exactly one Sildenafil and exactly one Citrate without wasting any of the pills?

Taking Sildenafil without taking Citrate, or vice versa, can also be very serious, because they must be taken together in order to be effective. In summary, you must take exactly one of the Sildenafil pills and one of the Citrate pills at one time. Therefore, you open up the Sildenafil bottle, and you tap one Sildenafil pill into your hand. You put that bottle aside and you open the Citrate bottle. You do the same, but by mistake, two Citrates fall into your hand with the Sildenafil pill.

Now, here's the problem. You weren't watching your hand as the pills fell into it, so you can't tell the Sildenafil pill apart from the two Citrate pills. The pills look identical. They are both the same size, same weight (10 micrograms), same color (Blue), same shape (perfect square), same everything, and they are not marked differently in any way.

What are you going to do? You cannot tell which pill is which, and they cost $300 a piece, so you cannot afford to throw them away and start over again. How do you get your daily dose of exactly one Sildenafil and exactly one Citrate without wasting any of the pills?

### Answer

Carefully cut each of the three pills in half, and carefully separate them into two piles, with half of each pill in each pile. You do not know which pill is which, but you are 100% sure that each of the two piles now contains two halves of Citrate and half of Sildenafil. Now go back into the Sildenafil bottle, take out a pill, cut it in half, and add one half to each stack. Now you have two stacks, each one containing two halves of Sildenafil and two halves of Citrate. Take one stack of pills today, and save the second stack for tomorrow.Hide Answer Show Answer

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