Latest Issue

Enigmas & puzzles

By Ian Stewart   October 2005

Triangles and tetrahedra

The eccentric privateer Sir Francis Duck disliked being interrupted while playing bowls, but the situation was urgent.

“Cap’n Duck?” said the ship’s mate nervously, tapping him on the shoulder.

“What is it?” asked Duck, irritably.

“The King of Spain’s fleet is approaching the coast of Plymouth, bent on invasion!”

“Then we shall defend the realm,” Duck replied calmly.

“With what? We’re out of cannonballs.”

“We will use bowls instead,” said the ever-inventive Duck, pointing to a regular-looking pile of perfectly round bowls.

“How many are there in that pile, Cap’n?”

“At this club,” said Duck, “each…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect