Can you solve it? Do you think like an engineer? | Mathematics

Today’s puzzles are about deducing the mechanisms behind two extremely puzzling objects: a practical joke cup supposedly invented by Pythagoras and a vehicle that seemingly travels the wrong way.

1. Pythagoras’s Cup

Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician and mystic, is credited with devising a cup with the following properties:

1) If you pour it up to a certain level it behaves like a normal cup.

2) If you pour it beyond that level all of the liquid in the cup empties through a hole at the bottom of the cup.

Can you draw the mechanism inside the cup?

The solution is very simple and has no moving parts. (If you are a plumber you might find this very easy.)

The cup is a cute metaphor for moderation in life. Fill it up just a little too much and you will lose everything.

2. Backwards jalopy

Design a simple mechanism for a four-wheeled toy vehicle such that when you pull a piece of string backwards out the vehicle, the vehicle moves forward.

I’ll be back at 5pm UK with the answers. Please NO SPOILERS. Instead please discuss your favourite engineering-based practical joke objects.

I’ve been setting a puzzle here on alternate Mondays since 2015. I’m always on the look-out for great puzzles. If you would like to suggest one, email me.

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