Mother Utopia


On Sundays, Browser readers receive a special edition with puzzles, poems, books, charts, music and more - plus selections from our decade-plus archive of the finest writing on the internet. Here's a taste of this week's edition.


Problem Of The Week

The following four statements refer exclusively to a mother and her four daughters. One of the statements is true and the remaining three are false:

  1. Alice is the mother.
  2. Carol and Ella are both daughters.
  3. Beth is the mother.
  4. One of Alice, Diane or Ella is the mother.

Who is the mother?

— from The Ultimate Mathematical Challenge by The UK Mathematics Trust

solution below, after the Book of the WEek


Book Of The Week

Slouching Towards Utopia
J. Brad DeLong | Basic Books | 2022

recommended by Paul Krugman at the New York Times
"Slouching Towards Utopia is a magisterial history of what DeLong calls the 'long 20th century' running from 1870 to 2010, an era shaped overwhelmingly by the economic consequences of technological progress. DeLong argues that there are two great puzzles about this transformation: Why all this technological progress happened, and why it hasn't made society better than it is"


Problem Solved

Problem: The following four statements refer exclusively to a mother and her four daughters. One of the statements is true and the remaining three are false:

1 Alice is the mother.
2 Carol and Ella are both daughters.
3 Beth is the mother.
4 One of Alice, Diane or Ella is the mother.

Who is the mother?

Solution: If Alice is the mother then statements 1, 2 and 4 are true. If Beth is the mother then statements 2 and 3 are both true. If Carol is the mother then all four statements are false. If Diane is the mother then statements 2 and 4 are both true. If Ella is the mother then statements 1, 2 and 3 are false and statement 4 is true, which meets the precondition, so the answer must be: Ella.

— from The Ultimate Mathematical Challenge by The UK Mathematics Trust


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