The Bear




I've always enjoyed this one, largely because of the unexpected question and the fact, despite the weird question, that it is a real puzzle with a sensible answer.

The Problem

One day, some hunters leave their tent and go looking for bear.  They go five miles due south, at which point they find bear tracks.  They follow the bear tracks five miles due east at which point they shoot the bear and kill it.  They then return to their tent by going five miles due north.

What color was the bear?

The Answer

is below, about two pages down.  See if you can't figure it out before you look!






































The Answer

White, of course.  That geometry (go south five miles, then east five miles, then north five miles, returning to your starting point) can only exist at the north pole. So...

Actually, that is not true!  There are an infinite number of solutions to the geometry problem, all of which occur near the south pole.  Since there are no bears there, the puzzle's solution, as given, still stands.  The geometry solutions are as follows:

1. Start just far enough north of the south pole so that, after going south five miles, the trip east will be a full circumference of the south pole.  Going north five miles will then, by definition, lead right back to the starting point!

2. Same as 1. except that the start is a little further south, so that the eastward trip goes twice around the south pole.

3. Etc.