An Impossible Bet
This has nothing to do with physics, but I
want to make a bet with you and 99 other people: 100 in total. You’ll all stand in a line,
take a one dollar bill out of your pocket and write your position in line on the bill.
Then I’ll collect the bills, take them to a separate room, put each one into its own
one of 100 identical boxes, and randomly rearrange the boxes. The game is this: each of you come into the
room and try to find which box your bill is in – but you’re only allowed to come in one
at a time, you’re only allowed to peek in half of the boxes, and you aren’t allowed
to change anything about the boxes or move bills around. If you find your own bill, great!
Show me that you’ve succeeded and then leave the bill in its box. And regardless of whether
or not you find your bill, you have to leave the room by a different route so you can’t
tell anyone else what you’ve seen, and the room is then reset before the next person
comes in. At the end, if all 100 of you have successfully
found your own bills, you all win and I’ll give each of you a hundred dollars plus the
one you started with! But if any one of you doesn’t find your bill… I keep all the dollars.
You are allowed to plan a strategy together with the other players before any of you come
into the room, but no communication afterwards. The question is this: should you take the
bet? To recap, every person gets to look in half
of the boxes, there’s no communication between players after they go into the room, and you
only win if every single person finds their own bill. $101 dollar payout if you win, nothing
if you lose. Take a moment to think about it, then click
the links on screen or in the description to make your choice – and find out what the
correct answer is.