QUIZ TIME – Einstein’s Logic Problem

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I’m sure there are people who can do this kind of thing in their heads. I’m not one of them – but I did get the right answer in 18 minutes, using pen and paper (all that time I spent with logic problem books as a kid finally paid off!)

Can you beat me?!

Please leave your FULL answer (house colour, nationality, drink, cigar brand, and pet for each house) and the time it took you in the comments. I’ve turned on full comment moderation to avoid early birds spoiling it for the latecomers, and will reveal the answer and all the comments on Monday morning.

The answers are available in the comments of the original post – but NO PEEKING!

Nothing but bragging rights up for grabs, I’m afraid. But HAVE FUN anyway – that’s an order!

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"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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39 Responses to QUIZ TIME – Einstein’s Logic Problem

  1. Vojtěch Kletečka says:

    Hi, actually I solved this problem quite a long time ago(I think it took me something about 20 minutes for the first time and I used paper, pen and scissors) but then I realized that there is really simple solution based on psychology: Einstein was German so he probably had chosen German as the answer. It’s questionable if he wanted other people to find out this way or it is coincidence but as I remember the right answer was German.

  2. Ian says:

    Einstein was born in 1879, and didn’t speak or write until many years after that. Thus, it is unreasonable to believe that he posited this riddle early in the 19th century, 60-70 years before his birth and ability to speak. So, the correct answer is that it is a trick question. Einstein ate the fish for lunch. I determined this in 12 seconds.

    What did I win?

  3. Julia says:

    Erm …”early in the 19th century”? Really? Fifty or sixty years before he was born?

  4. csrster says:

    Amazing that Einstein guy. Most of us have to wait until after we’re born to come up with pointless time-wasting conundrums.

  5. Mike says:

    Einstein wasn’t alive early during the 19th Century.
    What do I win?

  6. cromercrox says:

    where did they bury the survivors?

  7. Megan Cully says:

    Wow, that took a while (just shy of 2h- I can’t believe I spent that much time on a quiz but I hate not getting the answer once I’ve started. Probably why I’m a lousy scientist, beating uninteresting projects into mediocre publications). It wasn’t clear that the green and white houses were adjacent, but if I assume they are it’s quite fast.

    yellow, Norwegian, water, Dunhill, cats
    blue, Danish, tea, Blend, horse
    red, Brit, milk, PM, bird
    green, German, coffee, Prince, fish
    white, Swedish, beer, BM, dog

    Ok, now I can have lunch!

  8. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    OK, so I already have five comments pointing out (a couple, from first-time commenters, quite snarkily) that clearly the date on the puzzle is wrong – it’s supposed to say 20th century, not 19th. I didn’t write the puzzle – it’s from the Dropping The Science site linked under the image – so please stop yelling at me! 😉

  9. Steve Caplan says:

    Okay! On my lunch break, with a face full of avocado, salad, and the phone ringing non-stop, I did manage to solve it (I’m pretty sure) in about 30 min. I am going to give this to my 10 y old who will probably have the answer in 5 min. without breaking a sweat. Here is my solution:

    First house: Yellow, Norwegian, cats, water, Dunhill
    2nd house: Blue, Dane, horses, tea, Blend
    3rd house: Red, Brit., birds, milk, PallMall
    4th house: Green, German, FISH, coffee, Prince
    5th house: White, Swede, dogs, beer, BlueMaster

    I am assuming that this is the only combination that works, as the latter stages were done by trial and error, and luckily for me it worked out without having to go through all the possibilities.

    • Nice work!

      It was actually possible to do the whole thing without trial and error, although I lost a few minutes trying to figure out how! I hate having to guess, having worn through multiple erasers that way when working on the hardest Sudokus.

  10. Robyn Roscoe says:

    Took me a little more than 20 minutes, but my excuse is that I’m on holidays and therefore not at my brainy best :-). Got it:

    House 1 – Yellow, Norwegian, Water, Dunhill, Cats
    House 2 – Blue, Dane, Tea, Blend, Horse
    House 3 – Red, Brit, Milk, Pall Mall, Birds
    House 4 – Green, German, Coffee, Prince, FISH!!
    House 5 – White, Swede, Beer, Bluemaster, Dogs

    Love these puzzles – thanks for sharing this one!

  11. cromercrox says:

    I don’t see why the famous physicist Albert Einstein couldn’t have written it in the 19th century. He was born in 1879, so he lived his first 21 years in it. If, indeed, we are talking about the same Albert Einstein and not a different Albert Einstein, for example the gas fitter who lives at 37 Durbar Mansions, Matabeleland Crescent, Kensington.

    Anyway, here’s my answer – the Dane keeps fish.

    More fully –
    No. 1 is green and a coffee-drinking Norwegian lives there, smoking Pall Mall and keeping birds.
    The German lives at Blue No. 2. He drinks water, smokes Prince and is a keen equestrian.
    Milk-drinker Swede lives at Yellow No. 3, and he smokes Dunhill while walking his dogs.
    Empty bottles of Beer are found outside No. 4, the red and catty house of Bluemaster Brit.
    Meanwhile, at whitewashed No. 5, our Dane sips tea, smokes Blend and admires his fish.

    This took me at least five tries and a lot longer than 18 minutes. I was worried by the implicit assumption that we are looking at the houses from the front and they are all in a line (all such things being relative) but the solution is consistent with that view. Another thing that foxed me was the implicit assumption (by me) that ‘neighbours’ necessarily live next door to one another.

    • I had the same worries, especially the looking at the houses from the front assumption – but assumed that there was no trick involved that required semantic nitpicking about the meaning of the words neighbour, left of, etc.

  12. Bob O'H says:

    Got it in about half an hour, including distractions.

      • Bob O'H says:

        I have nothing to declare but my genius.

        I did it on a spreadsheet, and didn’t save it. I actually ended up with 2 possible configurations, from which I found out that the German lived in either house 4 or 5 and had the fish. At that point I didn’t bother to check which was right (they were otherwise identical), or if they were both correct.

  13. Stephen says:

    Do you every look at Richard Wiseman’s puzzles? I had a go at the one yesterday and think I figured it out quite quickly.

    Haven’t attempted Einstein’s one though…

  14. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Vojtěch, Megan, Steve, Edmund and Robyn have it right!

    Cromercrox does not

    The accuracy of Bob’s solution is unknown

    Thanks to all those who played!

  15. Cromercrox says:


  16. ok it took my 40 minutes, but I was nursing and distracting a 10 month old while doing it!

    yellow, norweigen, water, dunhill, cats
    blue, dane, tea, blend, horse,
    red, british, milk, pall mall bird
    green, german, coffee, prince, fish
    white, swede, beer, beer, dogs

  17. I am *so* glad I didn’t spend the time trying to solve this.

    Besides, it’s clear that the cat belonged to Schroedinger, who was of course German.

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