If you have not yet looked at the riddle, then go no further! The riddle can be found by clicking here. I’ve even put the article further down the page so you don’t accidentally see anything. You have been warned.
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You’ll notice that the hint to the first riddle is the second riddle. What is interesting is that most people easily solve the second riddle. The clan leader, to avoid causing the bridge to collapse, must separate his army into four smaller divisions and attack the castle from all four bridges. Each bridge will be able to hold up the smaller divisions while still allowing the clan leader to bring the full force of his army to bear on the castle.
What people don’t always immediately see is that the solution to the second riddle solves the first riddle. If I were to draw out both problems using the following crude diagram… the answer becomes more obvious.
If firing one laser will destroy the healthy cells on the way to the tumor, then an elegant solution would be to split the beam of radiation into multiple weaker beams and fire it at the tumour from different angles. The weaker beam won’t damage (nearly as much) the healthy cells, but when the beams converge on the tumour, it will be strong enough to destroy the tumour.
This might not be the only answer, but you have to admit, it’s pretty clever.
Now, what does have to do with anything other than teasing our brains?
I saw this riddle in a psychology textbook (called The Adaptive Mind… I think?). This ability to find solutions to a particular problem by reframing the problem or by finding solutions in other fields is a type of associative or “lateral” thinking. Creative people are often able to associate two totally unrelated ideas… just like in these two riddles.
Of course, lateral thinking by itself will not help you if you don’t have some basic idea of how radiation works. And it will definitely not help you patent and implement the technology! There has to be depth to your understanding as well.
This leads to part 2 of “How BIG is your creative space?” which will come out in the new year. Look for it then.
Chris Hsiung BSc. CPCC
HUMAN Venture Coaching
Chris Hsiung graduated with distinction from the University of Calgary in Electrical Engineering. He is a certified professional coach through the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). He is learning, teaching, presenting curriculum through Leadership Calgary. Currently he runs a practice (U Venture) guiding and coaching professionals who are choosing to engage in pioneering life challenges.