Physicist or Mathematician?

I came across this puzzle the other day and thought I’d post it for y’all to try:

Physics Puzzle

As you can see, there are two rooms. One room contains 3 normal light bulbs, the other contains 3 switches. Each switch turns one of the light bulbs on and off – the objective is to work out which switch controls which bulb. However, you can only enter each room once. Also, you can’t see the light shining out of the room, you can’t move the switches or bulbs, or any other form of cheating like that.

The idea behind it is that if you get it, you’re more likely to be a physicist, and if you can’t, you’re more likely a mathematician. What are you?

In other news, RL is looking as busy as anything this week, so expect some slightly more random and/or short posts before we get back into the swing of things properly.


6 Responses to “Physicist or Mathematician?”

  1. Sarainy Says:

    I think I’ve found a possible answer, although it might be cheating! I will reserve posting an answer until your next blog post though as to not ruin it for others πŸ™‚

    Have fun in the real world πŸ˜‰

  2. Vahan Says:

    Oh dear, perhaps I’m taking the wrong degree given that I gave in and Googled it!


    I don’t especially like the solution (which I won’t spoil) because when you said “normal” bulb, I thought of the energy saving ones (which are now the norm under UK law) which wouldn’t work for this puzzle. So it’s obviously all your fault!

  3. Mirtai Says:

    I’m neither so tried googling the answer and must have put in a strange search term as the first hit on google was – and you won’t believe this – a website entitled ‘der hexenmeister’ which is written by a certain ‘Veliaf’ – had to lol!! πŸ˜€

  4. Veliaf Says:

    Oh, I’m suddenly so popular!

    @Sarainy: You could email the answer if you like, I’m still undecided as to whether I will actually post a solution πŸ˜‰

    @Vahan: Oh dear. The post definitely wasn’t written with you in mind, or anything… But you’re probably along the right lines there, and I do apologise for not clarifying, but it might have made the answer obvious.

    @Mirtai: Nice try!

  5. Sarainy Says:

    Well after seeing Vahan’s post where he looked up the answer – and the discussion on energy saving lightbulbs not counting… I know my answer is most likely correct πŸ˜‰

    Took me a while to get it though!

  6. Vahan Says:

    @Veliaf In all seriousness, I really appreciate you posting this problem. I’m fairly certain that 90% of my course mates would not be able to solve this, because they would start trying to formulate equations and as you put it, act like a mathematician. Physical intuition is something that we lose at A level, so this was a useful reminder of that. And dw, I was only kidding with my last comment πŸ˜‰

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