What would you do ? (7) The Puzzle

“What would you do ?” used to figure on the cover of a boys’ comic called “Boys’ World”. This was a publication, obviously, aimed at boys and first appeared on January 26th 1963. There were 89 issues before the comic was merged with Eagle in 1964. The last issue of “Boys’ World” came out on October 3rd 1964.

I used to buy “Boys’ World”, and this was mainly for the front cover, which always featured a kind of puzzle. It was called “What would you do ?” and was based on somebody being in what Ned Flanders would call “A dilly of a pickle”. Here’s the situation:

The blue box sets the scene, and the task is for you to solve the situation. Perhaps you might like to write your idea in the “Comments” section.

Here’s the blue box enlarged:

So, a dilly of a space pickle. The space craft floats helplessly after the atomic motors have failed. The crew are in space suits but they have very little time to start the necessary repairs before the ship’s alarm goes off. An extremely large meteorite is coming towards them at ten miles a second. The time left before impact is less than sixty seconds and counting.

What can the crew do ??????






Filed under Aviation, Literature, Personal, Writing

33 responses to “What would you do ? (7) The Puzzle

  1. I think you need Captain James T Kirk on this puzzle John. Don’t spaceships have an emergency escape pod?
    They could do what Robert Duvall did in the film ‘Deep Impact’ and let the meteor hit the ship and destroy it before it can hit the earth and destroy mankind.

    • If there is one, then that would probably be a solution, although they only have less than a minute to get in and blast off.
      There is also the problem of how long the escape pod would support them, out there in the middle of nowhere “2000 Light Years From Home” as Mick Jagger put it, more years ago than I care to be remember.
      He would be in my top ten, incidentally, of “People I would not want to be stuck in an escape pod with for 2000 Light Years”. Twenty minutes would be my limit, I think

      • It will have to be the blowing yourself for the sake of mankind option then.
        Jagger would be pain for sure but for me the people I would least like to share the pod with it would be Ant and Dec and Michael Gove.

  2. Mike Wells

    Assuming no escape pod or emergency booster rocket etc (as none mentioned in the question). I guess you have to create some force on the space ship to change its direction from the collision course it is on.

    1 – Jump up and down in unison?
    2 – Run to the front and throw yourself at the ship to shift it a few feet?
    3 – Put space suits on and open the door to vent the pressurised atmosphere to space and create thrust that way.

    • I think that Methods 1 and 2 are perhaps a little optimistic, but your number 3 is certainly the problem writer’s solution of choice.

      • Michael Wells

        Re 1&2 my weight may well provide an advantage here.

        PS for my point 3 how come a later poster wins the prize 😦

      • I do beg your pardon. I was applying the GCSE marking rules “When a candidate offers three answers, mark the first one and disregard the rest, even if it is correct”.
        Anyway here is the prize,although personally, I wouldn’t pay that much for it;

  3. Hum, I think Andrew has the answer – call Capt. Kirk!! Or bend over and kiss you behind goodbye.
    Does this ship have an escape pod?

    • As I mentioned to Andrew (above), if there is an escape pod, it may only be a short term postponement of your fate. And as for James T Kirk, if he’s still alive, he’s at least 94. Perhaps a little past it for solving the insoluble?

  4. Thanks for sharing!.. if it the space craft doesn’t have a emergency plan in place or not enough time to use the plan, continue to try to start the engines and brace for impact… 🙂

    Hope all is well in your part of the universe and life is all that you wish for it to be… 🙂

    • Yes, thank you, we continue to stay at home and try to avoid this dreadful disease. “Home” is Nottingham where we live in the suburb of Sherwood, and covid rates are a little lower here than in much of the city, where irresponsible students have pushed infection rates sky high.
      I think that your idea of trying to start the engines is a good one, but it may take more than the minute you have before the meteorite strikes.
      The solution lies in a film, which I would expect most people of our age will have seen.

  5. Chris Waller

    I’m going to invoke Newton’s Third Law of Motion. I am assuming the space-craft is pressurised. If they open the hatch, the air will rush out and push the space-craft very slightly in the opposite direction to the escaping air. With luck, that will be enough to move the space-craft out of the path of the meteorite.

  6. This really is a dilly of a pickle and I’m stumped! I’d suggest bouncing against the side of the ship the same way you do in a boat on water. Instead they could always call the AA/RAC/Green Flag who all claim to be there very quickly!

    • I suspect that the inertia of a large spacecraft would prevent it moving in this way, but that is certainly the most original suggestion so far. One person has actually solved the problem, but if you don’t want to look at what he said, then you need to think of the end of a very famous science fiction film.

  7. Jan

    It’s a daft question. A meteorite is an interstellar object that struck the surface of a planet.

    • Granted, but they can bounce off on occasion, such as those meteorites found in Antarctica years ago, that were supposed to have examples of life from Mars on them.
      Anyway, we know what the problem setter meant. Perhaps he didn’t know that meteorite and meteor are different things.

  8. I must admit I cheated as I saw Jan’s answer. She’s got it. Mine would have been …. pray. LOL

    • That does raise the question though, of whether our Christian god has jurisdiction so many miles out in space. Or does he, (or indeed, she) have to bow to the decisions of the Klingon gods or maybe even the Romulan gods? The “D’ravsai”, an ancient species who seeded many forms of intelligent life throughout the galaxy. (thank you, Google)

      • Interesting reply, John …..

      • Jan

        I guess it depends whether you cleave to Thomas Aquinas’ proposition that God is the omnipotent creator of the universe who is able to bring about any state of affairs in the world unilaterally, as long as that state of affairs is not self-contradictory. Or Descartes’ truly omnipotent God who could have “created a circle with unequal radii if he had so wished”. Something for the philosophers.

      • I once went to a series of eight lectures on René Descartes at university. Dr James, I think it was, prefixed it all by saying “Well today we know that “I think, therefore I am” is wrong, which does take a lot away from what he said”. Sadly, the other seven hours fifty three minutes are just a hazy blur.

  9. atcDave

    Assuming the term “meteorite” is a typo/brain fart I would lean towards some reaction thrust from venting your own pressurization into space. Hard to imagine that providing much thrust, but its all I got!

    • Well, that is the correct solution, as you will see in due course. I would presume that as the comic was published in April 1963, the writer was perhaps influenced by the size of spacecraft at that time, even though, in the illustration, their spaceship does look to be a lot bigger than both the Mercury and Gemini capsules.

  10. Jeff Tupholme

    Call a team meeting and undertake to deliver a thorough risk assessment before… oh

    • After attending so many Training Days (that I’ll never get back), you are quite right about the risk assessment. You need to act cautiously when you’re moving a huge starfreighter.

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