Chemistry Test

May 31, 1996

RAY: I stole this from Joseph Rayle from Durham, North Carolina. Two undergraduate chemistry students at a major university had a highly successful semester in an introductory chemistry class. So their confidence is high, so high in fact that they decide to blow off their reading period, you know that period they give you to study for final exams, and they go to a fraternity party in a town quite a distance away and they have a pretty good time, so good in fact that they probably got a little drunk, met some girls, who knows.

TOM: Probably did some thinking too.

RAY: So good in fact that they don't make it back in time for their final exam. They missed the exam. In a panic, however, they devise a plan. They agree to tell the professor that they had a flat tire and this prevented their returning in time to take the exam. They pleaded with him, "Let us take the exam, please, this could ruin us, we promise nothing like this will ever happen again." The professor agrees and tells them to return the next morning. The two return the following morning, and the professor gives them their exam, but decides he isn't going to hang around. He has them leave their books and backpacks in the office and sends them to different rooms to take their exams. The test consists of one five-point question - some molarity problem - and each, smiling confidently, each answers the question. Then they turn the page, and the next question is a ninety-five-point question. And our question is: What is the question? What is the question that the professor puts on the make-up exam?

TOM: How the heck are we supposed to know that?

RAY: It has to do with the story. Weren't you listening?

Answer: 
RAY: Of course, the second question could have been anything, but with the information you were given, and if you were the professor and you suspected these two of devising, and inventing, and fabricating all of what had happened, you might ask this very question: Where was the flat tire?

TOM: Where was the tire? Which tire? And you can just see the...which tire?

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