Murderous Maths


In Vicious Circles and other Savage Shapes you'll find the bear hunter puzzle.

This is a classic puzzle, because it looks like the hunter has moved like this:

...and it doesn't tell you what colour the bear is!

However there IS somewhere on Earth where it is possible for him to move south, east then north and get back again!


He starts at at the NORTH POLE.

This means he walks south for a mile, but when he heads east for a mile he's just walking round in part of a circle, and stays one mile from the North pole. Therefore he only has to walk a mile north to get back!

Side View
Top View

Many thanks to Lt Col Scott Dudley of the U.S. Air Force Academy! Seven years after the book was first published, he spotted the mistake on page 65.
The three angles of the triangle walked by the hunter are NOT all 90º. The angle at the North pole is almost exactly 1 radian or 57º so the total of the three triangle angles should be 237º.
Copies printed after 2009 have been updated.
So what colour is the bear? It has to be a polar bear, so it's WHITE!

Ok, now forget about the bear. Can you think of anywhere else the hunter could set off, walk a mile south, a mile east and then a mile north and get back to where he started?

The irritating thing is that there are INFINITY places where he could start from, but can you work out where they are? Click the hunter for the answer!

Professor Fiendish's Tricks and Games

Murderous Maths Home Page