Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Judge Edwards and the 12 pool balls

Few people would turn down a nearly guaranteed seat in the U.S. Congress in order to work with troubled children on the wrong side of the Law. Judge Len Edwards did.

When political parties approached Edwards about running for the congressional seat his father Don held for more than three decades, he turned them down, choosing instead to continue his service as a juvenile court judge for Santa Clara County. Now that he is stepping down from the bench, he will spend his retirement travelling around the state helping other judges reform their courts with the goal of being as successful as he was.

The cover story in this week's Town Crier reminded me of a riddle he used to ask that nagged at me for years.

Back when I was in elementary school, on a camping trip with his son Don (who is memorialized by a tree and plaque on the front lawn of Bullis Purisssima school), Len posed us the following riddle. I think I was in high school by the time I figured it out, but I was so proud that I called him up to tell him the answer, hoping he'd be impressed with me. Here it is, in honor of perhaps the only deserving winner of the title of Los Altan of the Year.

You have twelve virtually identical twelve pool balls and one balance. The balls are all the same color and indistinguishable by touch or sight, but one of the twelve weighs slightly more or less than the others.

Using the balance only three times, can you identify the odd ball and whether it is heavier or lighter than the others?

2 comments:

Jon said...

Dude, it's impossible.

Nemesis of Evil said...

Maybe for a stupid eskimo.

Do you really think Len Edwards would ask a 9-year-old kid a riddle with no answer? It's not like we're talking about our dads here.