Lateral Brain Teasers

September 18, 2006  

Creativity is often about solving problems with non-linear thinking. One of my favorite techniques for warming up the brain is the use of “lateral” brain teasers. These are questions that can not be solved via traditional logic. Rather they require you to surface and challenge assumptions. Here are ten lateral brain teasers to get you started. After you have answered all ten, click the link at the bottom to get to the answers. No cheating! Have fun and don’t take it too seriously.

1. A sun dial is the time piece with the fewest moving parts. What is the time piece with the most moving parts?

2. A man walks into a hardware store to make a purchase. He can buy 6 for $6, 12 for $12, and 24 for $12. What is the man buying?

3. How could a baby fall out of a 20 story building and live?

4. In a town in ancient Greece, there was a law stating that all men must be clean-shaven and that no man might shave himself. The only person allowed to shave these people was the licensed town barber. Since the barber was bound by the same law. Who shaved the barber?

5. Back in old England, the rich poured the tea into the coffee cups first, followed by the milk. The poor did it the other way around, pouring the milk in the coffee cup first, followed by the tea. Why?

6. Train A and train B are crossing the country, from coast to coast, over 3,000 miles of railroad track. Train A is going from east to west at 80 miles per hour, and Train B is going from west to east at 90 miles per hour. Which train will be closer to the west coast when they meet?

7. Take two apples from five apples. How many do you have?

8. Do they have Fourth of July in England?

9. What was the biggest ocean in the world before Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean?

10. A dog is tied to a 15 foot leash. How can the dog reach a bone 20 feet away?

Ready for the answers? Click here.