Identify the poisoned wine

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A king has 1000 bottles of wine. An assasin tried to poison the wine. The king's guards caught the assasin after he poisoned only one bottle, but they did not know which bottle was poisoned.

It is known however that the poison is so powerful that even a tiny bit of the poisoned wine will kill, and it is known also that the poison will only kill after 24 hours. The king order you, his advisor, to get some of the criminals in the dungeon to test the wines for him. The king expects to find out the result the next day, essentially 24 hours after the testers drink the wine.

Now the simplest way is if 1000 criminals were available, just get them to each drink a little bit from each of the 1000 bottles. Hence, the poisoned bottle will be identified when one particular tester, out of the thousand testers, dies the following day. However, only 10 criminals is imprisoned in the dungeon on that particular day!

Is there a way to identify the poisoned bottle by the following day using only 10 testers? What is the method?"

This Post has 8 Comments Add your own!
Anonymous - August 20, 2008 at 10:21 PM

All down to timing! Line the 1000 bottles up..
T+1min, 1st criminal drinks 1st bottle
T+2min, 2nd criminal drinks 1st bottle, 1st criminal drinks 2nd bottle..
T+10min, 10th criminal drinks 1st bottle, 1st criminal drinks 10th bottle..
And so on..meaning,
T+1000min, 1st criminal would finish his round alr..10th criminal would be at 991st bottle..
If at T+99min+23hrs50mins someone die, then it's the 99th bottle..
Why minus 10mins, cos he's the 1st person who drank it..So he would die 10mins earlier than the rest..And the rest would die every min later..
1000mins = 16hrs40mins..
Let's say it's the 1st bottle which is poisoned, tt means 7hrs11mins(T+1min_24hrs) after drinking the last bottle, he will die.

Collin Yeo - August 20, 2008 at 11:14 PM

Very interesting. While it might be able to crack the case based on paper solution, executing it successfully might prove otherwise.

Few points for your consideration.

Firstly, it was stated that the poison will kill after 24 hours, not on the 24 hours dot; hence solution based on timing is not acceptable.

Secondly, the king needs to know the results by the next day. Essentially based on your solution, it will take roughly 16 hours for the process to finish. And should the 1000th wine bottle be the poisoned one, it will take more than a day to derive the result.

Last but not least, every criminals will die based on your solution. Thats real sacrifice huh.

Not a bad effort though, keep them coming! :)

Kelvin - August 21, 2008 at 9:39 AM

The first person will drink bottles 1-500.
The 2nd person will drink bottles 1-250 and 501-750.
The 3rd person will drink bottles 1-125, 251-375, 501-625 and 751-875.
So on and so on.
The last person will drink odd number bottles.
Each person will drink 500 bottles each.
2 to the power of 10=1024.
Therefore the bottles can be found by knowing who died and who did not after 24hrs.

Collin Yeo - August 21, 2008 at 10:46 PM

Yo Kelvin,

Don't quite get your explanation.

Why the criminals need to drink in such a strange looking numbers? What is the 2^10 for? And how do I know who died and who did not?

ziyang - August 24, 2008 at 12:27 AM

catch the assassin's family and get them to drink the wine... as long as they get to the 1 with poison.. the assassin sure will have some reaction or so... thus identifying the poison bottle

Anonymous - August 24, 2008 at 1:14 AM

Label bottles in binary numbers and get each prisoners to drink the bottles with 1 in each column. IE. Prisoner 1 drink with binary 1 in column 1.. and 2 drink with binary 1 in column 2 and so on.. The answer to which bottle is poisoned lies with which are the prisoners who are dead.
if prisoners 2 , 3 , 4 , 7 died
means bottle 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 is poisoned.

Prisoner 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 ,10

Bottle 1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Bottle 2:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Bottle 3:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
and so on..

Anonymous - August 24, 2008 at 1:40 AM

solving this puzzle requires the understanding of the binary system. each 'pattern' in the binary system corresponds to one unique number.

the 1st prisoner will take the 1st number of the binary (so he'll be taking a sip out of bottles 1,3,5,7...all the way to 999).

the 2nd prisoner will take the 2nd number of the binary (bottles 2,3,6,7,10,11...).

the rest of the prisoners will take their respective places in the binary. (3rd prisoner take 3rd number in binary and so on so forth)

so let's say bottle 736 is the one with the poison. the binary for 736 is 0101110000. therefore, prisoners 5,6,7,9 will be dead by the next day.

well, i'm pretty certain that this is the answer to the puzzle. took me 20mins to figure this out. ain't too sure if they knew binaries in medieval times.

Anonymous - August 24, 2008 at 1:41 AM

oo the guy beat me to it lol. should have posted earlier :P

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