In what we hope may or may not become a sort of regular feature, possibly appearing periodically from time to time on a monthly or perhaps annual basis, space permitting, but probably not, we are somewhat pleased to present a new column dubiously titled Stump the Mastermind, written by one Busby LeClair. Mr. LeClair, currently under house arrest, claims to be an expert on everything from marsupials to flamenco dancing, and looks forward to receiving challenging questions that hopefully aren’t too hard from any of our larnin’ and cipherin’ readers who think they may know a thing or two.
Today’s particularly nasty mathematical problem has been forwarded by one of Mr. LeClair’s ex-wives, and regular The Voice reader, Agnes Folwadder.
Here’s a little problem for you to put in your pipe and smoke. I found this whilst searching the internet for nude pictures of Rowan Atkinson:
My grandmother and her twin sisters held a joint birthday party last week and invited their entire family. They both have an equal number of daughters, who in turn have as many daughters as they have sisters, all surviving. The combined number of all these daughters and granddaughters is equal to the age of my grandmother, who in three years time will be exactly three times my own age.
How old is my grandmother, how old am I, and how many granddaughters received invitations to the party?
Let me begin by saying that I hope your own dear Granny, wonderful lady that she is, is settled down and enjoying her retirement from the vivisection industry. Now then, the problem you have presented me with, while admittedly a bit of a poser, is certainly not insoluble. In fact, via the application of a little something that I like to call convective inverse deductive logical sequencing, it would be possible to quickly determine not only the age of said Granny and narrator, as well as the number of granddaughters receiving invitations, but also the precise type and quantity of appetizers being served, and which of the guests is most likely to be found guzzling gin in the backyard at three o’clock in the morning singing Roll Out the Barrel with her knickers over her head. However, due to the tragic spontaneous combustion of second cousin Camellia Lupritia-Anthrax, the party has been indefinitely postponed, and all invitations revoked.
Trust this helps.