Everyday Einstein – 8.16.2010

From Lewis Carroll’s Games and Puzzles, newly compiled and edited by Edward Wakeling.

“Carroll sent this puzzle to his old mathematics tutor, Professor Bartholomew Price.

There are four brothers sitting at a table with a monkey. On the table is a pile of nuts.

The first brother gives one nut to the monkey, and takes a quarter of the remaining nuts for himself. He gives the rest to the second brother.

The second brother gives one nut to the monkey, and takes a quarter of the remaining nuts for himself. He gives he rest to the third brother.

The third brother gives one nut to the monkey, and takes a quarter of the remaining nuts for himself. He gives the rest to the fourth brother.

The fourth brother gives one nut to the monkey and takes a quarter of the remaining nuts for himself.

The remaining nuts are divided equally between the four brothers.

What is the smallest number of nuts with which it is possible to start?”

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