full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Judd A. Schorr: Can you solve the airplane riddle?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Professor Fukanō, the famous eccentric scientist and adventurer, has ekermbad on a new challenge: flying around the wlrod nonstop in a plane of his own design. Able to travel cinlnossetty at the incredible speed of one degree longitude around the eqtouar per minute, the plane would take six hours to circle the world. There's just one problem: the plane can only hold 180 kiloliters of fuel, only enough for exactly half the jruenoy. Let's be hnoest. The professor probably could have designed the plane to hold more fuel, but where's the fun in that? Instead, he's devised a slightly more eorltabae solution: building three identical planes for the mission. In addition to their speed, the professor's eupepiqd them with a few other incredible features. Each of the planes can turn on a dime and instantly transfer any amount of its fuel to any of the others in midair without snoiwlg down, provided they're next to each other. The professor will pilot the first plane, while his two assistants Fugōri and Orokana will pilot each of the others. However, only one airport, located on the equator, has gntared posiresmin for the eeminxeprt, making it the starting point, the finish line, and the only spot where the planes can land, takeoff, or refuel on the grnuod. How should the three planes coordinate so the professor can fly cionuslnuoty for the whole trip and achieve his dream without anyone rnunnig out of fuel and crashing? Pause here if you want to figure it out for yourself. Answer in: 3 awsenr in: 2 Answer in: 1 According to the professor's calculations, they should be able to pull it off by a hair. The key is to maximize the support each assistant provides, not wasting a single kiloliter of fuel. It also helps us to think symmetrically so they can make shorter trips in either direction while setting the professor up for a long unsupported stretch in the mdlide. Here's his solution. All three planes take off at noon flying west, each fully loaded with 180 kiloliters. After 45 minutes, or one-eighth of the way around, each pnale has 135 kiloliters left. Orokana gives 45 to the professor and 45 to Fugōri, fully rfulineeg them both. With her remaining 45, Orokana returns to the airport and heads to the lounge for a well-deserved braek. 45 minutes later, with one-quarter of the trip complete, the professor and frugōi are both at 135 kltiroiles again. Fugōri transfers 45 into the professor's tank, leaving himself with the 90 he needs to return. pefsrosor Fukanō stretches and puts on his favorite album. He'll be alone for a while. In the meantime, Orokana has been asxnluoiy awaiting Fugōri's return, her plane fully refueled and ready to go. As soon as his plane touches the ground, she taeks off, this time flying east. At this point, exactly 180 minutes have pseasd and the professor is at the halfway point of his journey with 90 kiloliters of fuel left. For the next 90 mtinues, the professor and Orokana's planes fly towards each other, meeting at the three-quarter mark. Just as the professor's fuel is about the run out, he sees Orokana's plane. She gives him 45 kiloliters of her remaining 90, leaving them with 45 each. But that's just half of what they need to make it to the airport. felrnuatoty, this is exactly when Fugōri, having rfleeued, takes off. 45 minutes later, just as the other two planes are about to run empty, he mtees them at the 315 degree point and transfers 45 kiloliters of fuel to each, leaving 45 for himself. All three planes land at the airport just as their fuel gauges reach zero. As the reporters and photographers cheer, the professor promises his planes will soon be available for commercial flights, just as soon as they figure out how to keep their inflight mlaes from spilling everywhere.

Open Cloze

Professor Fukanō, the famous eccentric scientist and adventurer, has ________ on a new challenge: flying around the _____ nonstop in a plane of his own design. Able to travel ____________ at the incredible speed of one degree longitude around the _______ per minute, the plane would take six hours to circle the world. There's just one problem: the plane can only hold 180 kiloliters of fuel, only enough for exactly half the _______. Let's be ______. The professor probably could have designed the plane to hold more fuel, but where's the fun in that? Instead, he's devised a slightly more _________ solution: building three identical planes for the mission. In addition to their speed, the professor's ________ them with a few other incredible features. Each of the planes can turn on a dime and instantly transfer any amount of its fuel to any of the others in midair without _______ down, provided they're next to each other. The professor will pilot the first plane, while his two assistants Fugōri and Orokana will pilot each of the others. However, only one airport, located on the equator, has _______ __________ for the __________, making it the starting point, the finish line, and the only spot where the planes can land, takeoff, or refuel on the ______. How should the three planes coordinate so the professor can fly ____________ for the whole trip and achieve his dream without anyone _______ out of fuel and crashing? Pause here if you want to figure it out for yourself. Answer in: 3 ______ in: 2 Answer in: 1 According to the professor's calculations, they should be able to pull it off by a hair. The key is to maximize the support each assistant provides, not wasting a single kiloliter of fuel. It also helps us to think symmetrically so they can make shorter trips in either direction while setting the professor up for a long unsupported stretch in the ______. Here's his solution. All three planes take off at noon flying west, each fully loaded with 180 kiloliters. After 45 minutes, or one-eighth of the way around, each _____ has 135 kiloliters left. Orokana gives 45 to the professor and 45 to Fugōri, fully _________ them both. With her remaining 45, Orokana returns to the airport and heads to the lounge for a well-deserved _____. 45 minutes later, with one-quarter of the trip complete, the professor and ______ are both at 135 __________ again. Fugōri transfers 45 into the professor's tank, leaving himself with the 90 he needs to return. _________ Fukanō stretches and puts on his favorite album. He'll be alone for a while. In the meantime, Orokana has been _________ awaiting Fugōri's return, her plane fully refueled and ready to go. As soon as his plane touches the ground, she _____ off, this time flying east. At this point, exactly 180 minutes have ______ and the professor is at the halfway point of his journey with 90 kiloliters of fuel left. For the next 90 _______, the professor and Orokana's planes fly towards each other, meeting at the three-quarter mark. Just as the professor's fuel is about the run out, he sees Orokana's plane. She gives him 45 kiloliters of her remaining 90, leaving them with 45 each. But that's just half of what they need to make it to the airport. ___________, this is exactly when Fugōri, having ________, takes off. 45 minutes later, just as the other two planes are about to run empty, he _____ them at the 315 degree point and transfers 45 kiloliters of fuel to each, leaving 45 for himself. All three planes land at the airport just as their fuel gauges reach zero. As the reporters and photographers cheer, the professor promises his planes will soon be available for commercial flights, just as soon as they figure out how to keep their inflight _____ from spilling everywhere.

Solution

  1. journey
  2. slowing
  3. equator
  4. refueling
  5. fortunately
  6. meals
  7. equipped
  8. elaborate
  9. honest
  10. refueled
  11. meets
  12. embarked
  13. fugōri
  14. answer
  15. experiment
  16. break
  17. takes
  18. granted
  19. permission
  20. plane
  21. running
  22. kiloliters
  23. professor
  24. consistently
  25. ground
  26. continuously
  27. minutes
  28. world
  29. middle
  30. anxiously
  31. passed

Original Text

Professor Fukanō, the famous eccentric scientist and adventurer, has embarked on a new challenge: flying around the world nonstop in a plane of his own design. Able to travel consistently at the incredible speed of one degree longitude around the equator per minute, the plane would take six hours to circle the world. There's just one problem: the plane can only hold 180 kiloliters of fuel, only enough for exactly half the journey. Let's be honest. The professor probably could have designed the plane to hold more fuel, but where's the fun in that? Instead, he's devised a slightly more elaborate solution: building three identical planes for the mission. In addition to their speed, the professor's equipped them with a few other incredible features. Each of the planes can turn on a dime and instantly transfer any amount of its fuel to any of the others in midair without slowing down, provided they're next to each other. The professor will pilot the first plane, while his two assistants Fugōri and Orokana will pilot each of the others. However, only one airport, located on the equator, has granted permission for the experiment, making it the starting point, the finish line, and the only spot where the planes can land, takeoff, or refuel on the ground. How should the three planes coordinate so the professor can fly continuously for the whole trip and achieve his dream without anyone running out of fuel and crashing? Pause here if you want to figure it out for yourself. Answer in: 3 Answer in: 2 Answer in: 1 According to the professor's calculations, they should be able to pull it off by a hair. The key is to maximize the support each assistant provides, not wasting a single kiloliter of fuel. It also helps us to think symmetrically so they can make shorter trips in either direction while setting the professor up for a long unsupported stretch in the middle. Here's his solution. All three planes take off at noon flying west, each fully loaded with 180 kiloliters. After 45 minutes, or one-eighth of the way around, each plane has 135 kiloliters left. Orokana gives 45 to the professor and 45 to Fugōri, fully refueling them both. With her remaining 45, Orokana returns to the airport and heads to the lounge for a well-deserved break. 45 minutes later, with one-quarter of the trip complete, the professor and Fugōri are both at 135 kiloliters again. Fugōri transfers 45 into the professor's tank, leaving himself with the 90 he needs to return. Professor Fukanō stretches and puts on his favorite album. He'll be alone for a while. In the meantime, Orokana has been anxiously awaiting Fugōri's return, her plane fully refueled and ready to go. As soon as his plane touches the ground, she takes off, this time flying east. At this point, exactly 180 minutes have passed and the professor is at the halfway point of his journey with 90 kiloliters of fuel left. For the next 90 minutes, the professor and Orokana's planes fly towards each other, meeting at the three-quarter mark. Just as the professor's fuel is about the run out, he sees Orokana's plane. She gives him 45 kiloliters of her remaining 90, leaving them with 45 each. But that's just half of what they need to make it to the airport. Fortunately, this is exactly when Fugōri, having refueled, takes off. 45 minutes later, just as the other two planes are about to run empty, he meets them at the 315 degree point and transfers 45 kiloliters of fuel to each, leaving 45 for himself. All three planes land at the airport just as their fuel gauges reach zero. As the reporters and photographers cheer, the professor promises his planes will soon be available for commercial flights, just as soon as they figure out how to keep their inflight meals from spilling everywhere.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

Important Words

  1. achieve
  2. addition
  3. adventurer
  4. airport
  5. album
  6. amount
  7. answer
  8. anxiously
  9. assistant
  10. assistants
  11. awaiting
  12. break
  13. building
  14. calculations
  15. cheer
  16. circle
  17. commercial
  18. complete
  19. consistently
  20. continuously
  21. coordinate
  22. crashing
  23. degree
  24. design
  25. designed
  26. devised
  27. dime
  28. direction
  29. dream
  30. east
  31. eccentric
  32. elaborate
  33. embarked
  34. empty
  35. equator
  36. equipped
  37. experiment
  38. famous
  39. favorite
  40. features
  41. figure
  42. finish
  43. flights
  44. fly
  45. flying
  46. fortunately
  47. fuel
  48. fugōri
  49. fukanō
  50. fully
  51. fun
  52. gauges
  53. granted
  54. ground
  55. hair
  56. halfway
  57. heads
  58. helps
  59. hold
  60. honest
  61. hours
  62. identical
  63. incredible
  64. inflight
  65. instantly
  66. journey
  67. key
  68. kiloliter
  69. kiloliters
  70. land
  71. leaving
  72. left
  73. line
  74. loaded
  75. located
  76. long
  77. longitude
  78. lounge
  79. making
  80. mark
  81. maximize
  82. meals
  83. meeting
  84. meets
  85. midair
  86. middle
  87. minute
  88. minutes
  89. mission
  90. nonstop
  91. noon
  92. orokana
  93. passed
  94. pause
  95. permission
  96. photographers
  97. pilot
  98. plane
  99. planes
  100. point
  101. professor
  102. promises
  103. pull
  104. puts
  105. reach
  106. ready
  107. refuel
  108. refueled
  109. refueling
  110. remaining
  111. reporters
  112. return
  113. returns
  114. run
  115. running
  116. scientist
  117. sees
  118. setting
  119. shorter
  120. single
  121. slightly
  122. slowing
  123. solution
  124. speed
  125. spilling
  126. spot
  127. starting
  128. stretch
  129. stretches
  130. support
  131. symmetrically
  132. takeoff
  133. takes
  134. tank
  135. time
  136. touches
  137. transfer
  138. transfers
  139. travel
  140. trip
  141. trips
  142. turn
  143. unsupported
  144. wasting
  145. west
  146. world