It sounded like one of those old vaudeville type jokes. I mean, who smokes cigars in this day and age?
But this was no joke. It was classic Einstein - as in Albert, the genius discoverer of relativity, quantum physics and refrigerators (http://tinyurl.com/yg3p7x), and it's what got me enrolled on a short vacation, relaxing as the nice young men in their clean white coats take care of me. And it's so appropriate that I'm taking some time off here at the "Funny Farm" - after all, it was Einstein's little joke that got me here. Or maybe it's my mother's fault I'm laid up here. Yeah, that's it - the doc was right. After all, she was the one that told me I was a "genius," the smartest kid in town. Am I in the top 2 percent, mom? Oh yes, son, definitely.
Well, if so, figuring out a riddle Einstein said could be solved only by the cream of the IQ crop should have been a piece of cake. Should have, but wasn't. They say Einstein himself was a little crazy - he certainly wondered about it himself (http://tinyurl.com/y4cxel). Maybe he, too, was a little too anxious to solve his puzzle! So just what is this insane inspiring puzzle?
Well, like I said, it starts out like an old joke: "There are five men of different nationalities living in a row of five houses," and they all drink different drinks and smoke different types of cigars, among other things. You get a bunch of clues, such as "The Brit lives in the red house; the Swede keeps dogs as pets; the Dane drinks tea," etc. All you have to do is figure out who keeps the fish (of course, fish isn't mentioned as one of the items held by anybody). The whole thing is on-line, at http://tinyurl.com/yy3dr7, if you'd care to try your luck (the answer is one click away, so don't drive yourself crazy figuring it out).
As one would expect from a puzzle authored by a certified genius, there is more than one answer (the site lists three, but there are probably more, based on the way the site explains the answers. Of course, I couldn't even get one. But that puzzle is easy, compared to the real goods - Einstein 2.0, the computerized version of the puzzle. Einstein's verbal puzzle takes on new and frightening dimensions when translated to the big PC screen. Now, you don't just have to figure out who ate or smoked what; this is a whole new world of letters, numbers, Roman numerals and all sorts of squiggly things.
The key to the puzzle, according to Einstein 2.0's help file, is to figure out the relationships between the different cards and position them appropriately. There is a relationship between each card, where it belongs on the board and what spot it should be in. There are all sort of hints on the board, and what you don't know is as important as what you do.
So, I played. And played some more. After looking at the written version of the puzzle - no fewer than three times, I'll have you know - I thought I was ready, having understood the logic behind the solution. But this graphic version - it's just not the same. Even though Einstein 2.0 gives you all sorts of hints that can help you solve the thing, and generously allows you to redo the puzzle, I just couldn't hack it. Can you?
Well, there's only one way to find out - just download Einstein 2.0 for free from http://games.flowix.com. There's a version for every platform (Windows, Mac, Linux/Unix). As forgiving and helpful this program is, I must warn you - the riddle will haunt you, to the extent that you will find yourself thinking about it day and night. Unable to stop. Obsessed.
Until you find yourself one day in a place like this. It's not too bad, really. They promised to make me all better, maybe run a little operation to fix things up just right. I hear they even let you keep the part of the brain they take out. Maybe I won't keep mine, though - after falling apart on the Einstein puzzle, I don't think I'm in any mood for the mysteries of the human brain.