A FENCE PROBLEM.
The practical usefulness of puzzles is a point that we are liable to
overlook. Yet, as a matter of fact, I have from time to time received
quite a large number of letters from individuals who have found that the
mastering of some little principle upon which a puzzle was built has
proved of considerable value to them in a most unexpected way. Indeed,
it may be accepted as a good maxim that a puzzle is of little real value
unless, as well as being amusing and perplexing, it conceals some
instructive and possibly useful feature. It is, however, very curious
how these little bits of acquired knowledge dovetail into the
occasional requirements of everyday life, and equally curious to what
strange and mysterious uses some of our readers seem to apply them.
What, for example, can be the object of Mr. Wm. Oxley, who writes to me
all the way from Iowa, in wishing to ascertain the dimensions of a field
that he proposes to enclose, containing just as many acres as there
shall be rails in the fence?
The man wishes to fence in a perfectly square field which is to contain
just as many acres as there are rails in the required fence. Each
hurdle, or portion of fence, is seven rails high, and two lengths would
extend one pole (161/2 ft.): that is to say, there are fourteen rails
to the pole, lineal measure. Now, what must be the size of the field?
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