I thought some of the folks on this list might like to figure this one
out. The solution will be published on the Car Talk website later
today (8/24). I think I know the answer, which may have applications
in real life some day.
The Kitchen Carpentry Cure
RAY: This puzzler was sent in by Jerry Galloway. He writes:
"My friend had purchased a piece of slate to put into the floor in the
hearth in front of his fireplace. The slate was 3/4 of an inch thick,
by 10 inches wide, by 48 inches long, and weighed on the order of 175
pounds. He had cut a hole in the oak floor that was the same size as
the piece of slate."
TOM: He had to plunk it right there, and get his fingers out of the
way as fast as possible!
RAY: "The depth of the hole was exactly 3/4 of an inch, the same as
the slate. And, of course, there was the sub-floor underneath. When he
put one end of the slate into the hole in the floor, he realized that
he would have to drop the other end to get the slate into the hole. He
realized that if he dropped the brittle slate, even half an inch, it
Not only that, but it wouldn't go in the hole, anyway. There was so
little clearance that he couldn't even use that thin fishing line to
lower the end of the slate. So he sat there for the longest time,
drinking beers and pondering this dilemma.
After his 5th or 6th trip to the kitchen he returned with something
that solved the problem in elegant fashion."
What did he find there that allowed him to lower the slate into the
hole without risk of breaking it?