Gizmodo Monday Puzzle: Can You Outsmart These April Fools’ Pranks?

In the very first Gizmodo Monday Puzzle, I made you a promise: I swore that the puzzles I post here will not be gimmicky, that what they seem to be asking really is what they’re asking. In 35 installments, I think I’ve upheld the promise, but in honor of April Fool’s Day it’s time to break my one rule. Here’s an example of the kind of gimmick I mean:

I have two U.S. coins that add up to 30 cents. One of them is not a nickel. What are the two coins?

What Inspired Dominic Monaghan’s Performance in Moriarty?

Answer: A quarter and a nickel. One of them is not a nickel but the other one is.

This is the brainteaser equivalent of a dad joke. Puzzledom abounds with them. I steer clear of groaners because I believe in the importance of trusting the source of one’s puzzle. If I intermixed real puzzles with trick questions, then you would always look over your shoulder for deceit and miss out on genuine insight.

Don’t get me wrong, outsmarting a trick question carries a special satisfaction. And for the first time ever, we’re offering a cash prize of $750,000 to whoever solves all of this week’s puzzles. Don’t believe me? Only one way to find out.

Did you miss last week’s puzzle? Check it out here, and find its solution at the bottom of today’s article. Be careful not to read too far ahead if you haven’t solved last week’s yet!

Puzzle #36: April Fools

  1. A rope ladder hangs over the edge of a ship. The ladder is 20 feet long, and the rungs are each 1 foot apart. The bottom rung just barely grazes the water. The ocean tide rises 3 inches per hour. How much time will pass before the bottom nine rungs of the ladder are submerged under water?
  2. What’s worth more, a gallon of nickels or half a gallon of dimes?
  3. A man leaves home and takes three left turns. When he arrives back at home he sees two men wearing masks. Who are these men?
  4. You meet two girls named Chloe Smith and Zoe Smith. They look alike and you ask if they’re twins. They say “No, but we have the same parents and we were born on the same day of the same month of the same year.” How is this possible?
  5. I feel bad only leaving you with gimmicky puzzles so I’ve included one real one. I come to you with a curious observation. I pick a number and if it’s even, I divide it by 2 but if it’s odd, I multiply it by 3 and then add 1. I then repeat this process on whatever the resulting number is. For example, if I start with 5 then the sequence goes: 5, 16, 8, 4, 2, 1. This is because 5 is odd, so I start by multiplying by 3 and adding 1 to get 16, which is even, so I divide by 2 to get 8, which is also even, and so on. I’ve noticed that no matter what number I start with, I always get to 1 eventually. Can you explain why? This one shouldn’t be too hard, but if you need a hint I’ve supplied one here.

I’ll be back next Monday with the answers and a new puzzle. Do you know a cool puzzle that you think should be featured here? Message me on X @JackPMurtagh or email me at

Solution to Puzzle #35: Whodunits

Did you find last week’s whodunits elementary? I was heartened to see several new commenters last week. I will likely feature more whodunits in a future installment.

1. In the first story, the Chief of Police says that Diddy’s apartment was pitch black and it was only after turning a light on that they saw the suicide note on the bed. We’re told that it’s a bright day and that Diddy lived in a studio apartment. Sherlock reasons that if Diddy jumped out his window, then the window should still be open in his apartment and light should be streaming through. Somebody must have been there to close the window or shut the blinds.

2. In the second story, the Chief assumed that Mrs. Howe died in her home. All we know is that she died by asphyxiation at 6:00 pm. Sherlock figures that Mrs. Howe could have left home to meet her husband somewhere near his work. He could have killed her elsewhere and staged the body at home.

Shout-out to frslou89 for busting both cases. Several of you came up with an alternate solution to the second whodunit: Mr. Howe’s office is in a different time zone from his house. This could give him an extra hour to drive home and make it there just in time to kill Mrs. Howe by 6:00 pm. It’s a clever idea and I completely overlooked the possibility. thrill000 points out that Sherlock solves crimes in England, which only has one time zone.