Some time ago, at my brothers birthday party, one of his friends introduced me to the so called “Four Square Riddle” and asked me to solve it. He drew this in front of me:
My first task was to divide the one labeled with “1” in two identical pieces. Easy!
Now I was asked to divide the one labeled with “2”, but this time in three identical pieces. Not much harder than the first.
Third one I had to divide in four. This one was much harder than first two, but I eventually got it. In case you want to give it a shot I am putting some space here, scroll when you want to see the solution.
And now, the last remaining one! I was asked to divide it in 7 identical pieces. I spend some time on this, admitted failure and was given the solution. Scroll for an answer:
I felt stupid… It was the easiest of all, yet I could not see it. Somehow, I have tricked my own brain that the solution was so complicated, that I failed to see the obvious.
I tried it on other people, following the same sequence. Most of them failed, so I felt relieved I am not the only stupid one. I also noticed people that started from fourth square solved it easily.
I thought — it is just a game, a clever party trick, it will never happen in real world, right?
And then I started to remember…
How I wanted to make a blog, but was thinking about all the stuff that needed to be done and thought I’ll never have the time. Hosting, domain, WordPress, plugins, oh my! All this actually took… 20 minutes. It was not perfect from beginning and still isn’t, but much simpler than I thought it will be.
How one of my colleagues had to write a simple webpage for university assignment. He spend days configuring a complicated application server for this, when any simple web server would have been enough.
How I was asked to develop simple chat and add it in our existing web application. We have been discussing on the technology we will use to carry the messages for a while, when our team lead interrupted and asked the obvious question: “Why you can’t just send plain text?”
The common in all examples is I assumed things are complicated and in many cases proceeded to make them so. Same thing happened when I was solving the riddle.
So next time things look very hard, don’t just assume they really are. Perhaps you are missing something obvious?
Thank you for reading.