Gastrointestinal Puzzler

Aug 25, 2001

RAY: We're back. You're listening to Car Talk with us, Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, and we're here to discuss cars, car repair and--duh!--the new Puzzler.

TOM: And it's good to be back into the swing of it.

RAY: Isn't it? Isn't it?

TOM: For so many months, you said the Puzzler's on vacation. It was so depressing. Now...

RAY: The Puzzler was so happy, though, being on vacation.

TOM: It was. So were you.

RAY: Well, I'm torn this week, because I have a lot of potentially lousy Puzzlers I could use, and you may have noticed that I'm working up to the good ones.

TOM: I didn't actually notice a trend.

RAY: Not a trend yet, because it's hard to have a trend when you only have one.

TOM: Two points.

RAY: One Puzzler under your belt.

TOM: What is it?

RAY: The other night I had a...what is it? A gastrointestinal attack in the middle of the night.

TOM: Really?

RAY: Well, it may have had something to do with that double-anchovy, pepperoni pizza I had at 11:00.

TOM: Does happen.

RAY: Or the cheesecake I ate out of the freezer an hour later. But in the middle of the night, I wake up moaning and groaning, clutching my stomach, and I find myself at the medicine chest looking for some medicinal relief. And I pull out the bottle of the stuff, which I recognize by its shape and color. And, lo and behold, I can't read the infinitesimally small print on the bottle.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: So, I go clutching my stomach. I make my way to the bedroom and find my glasses on the dresser, and I come back and I put them on, and even with my glasses...

TOM: You can't read it.

RAY: I still can't read it. Too, the print is just too small. And I'm in agony now. I'm...

TOM: You wanted to just swizzle it down. You're going to swizzle it down.

RAY: I'm moaning and groaning. And I don't want to take the wrong dose, because too little is as bad as too much.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: No, it isn't.

TOM: No.

RAY: And to make matters even worse, as I'm bent over in pain, my glasses fall off my head and they break in half. I say, "Jeez, that's it. I'm going to just die right here."

TOM: On the bathroom floor.

RAY: On the bathroom floor. Unless I'm fortunate enough that my moaning wakes up another member of the household.

TOM: I hope.

RAY: I hope.

TOM: And all you could hear was three people yelling, "Shut up out there!"

RAY: That's about it.

TOM: That's about it, yeah.

RAY: And yet, a minute later...

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: I was tucked in bed, tucked under the covers, having taken the correct dosage. How did I do it?

TOM: Nobody woke up to help you.

RAY: Nobody. All you have is what you have. You have all the facts. Now, if you think you know the answer, write that answer on the back of a $20 bill and send it to Puzzler Tower...

RAY: How did I do it? Well, I think I mentioned when I broke the glasses that they broke in half, so that I had two. How would they break in half?

TOM: Two monocles.

RAY: Two monocles. Exactly.

TOM: Instead of one diabolical.

RAY: So, I had one lens with a stick attached to it, and another lens with a stick attached to it.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And, lo and behold, if you gang the lenses, that is, put one in front of the other, you essentially double the magnification. So there I was, unable to read the dosage, and with these two pieces in my hand, these two lenses back to back, so to speak...

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: I was able to read the bottle, and it said, "Take two of these and stick them down your throat." And, next thing I know, I'm in bed.

TOM: Wow!

RAY: And all's right with the world.

TOM: Yeah!

RAY: Now, there is another answer to this, which I'm not going to delve into right now.

TOM: No, I think you should mention it, at least, because we don't understand any of this, let's face it.

RAY: Someone will call.

TOM: This is part of 801, was it not? Optics?

RAY: No, not when They didn't have optics then. We didn't have...we Optics was brand new when you were there.

TOM: Benjamin Franklin had just invented the bifocal.

RAY: Well, here's the other answer that I happen to like better. Let's assume I didn't break my glasses, but in fact, I had small print that I couldn't read. Now, when you try to read something that's too small, when your eyesight is good, what do you do? You bring it closer to your eye, do you not?

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: But then it goes out of focus. And even people with good eyesight can bring something so close that they can no longer read it.

TOM: Right.

RAY: Except that if it's small, I mean, duh. You don't need a genius to tell you that if it's small, you ain't going to move it farther away from you, because you got less of a chance of seeing it.

TOM: Mm-hmm.

RAY: So, if you were trying to look at the legs of a flea, you would try to bring that flea as close to your eye as possible, but in doing so, you would put it out of focus.

TOM: Yeah. I'm with you.

RAY: So, if you take your index finger...I'm wearing my glasses now, but I'm staring at the bottle unable to look at the print.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Unable to read the print because it's blurred.

TOM: I'm doing this right now, myself.

RAY: But it's close enough so that I can see it. Take your index finger and curl it so your fingernail now touches the point where your thumb joins your hand, and in doing that an apt description?

TOM: Yeah. You make a little teeny hole with your index finger.

RAY: You're going to make a little teeny hole. And you could accomplish the same thing by taking a piece of paper and punching a hole in it.

TOM: Oh, man! This works like a dream!

RAY: If you then look through that hole, you are, in fact, unfuzzying the image. It is like you are bringing it into focus, because the hole acts to...acts to...ah-ah-ah-ah-ah, what's the word?

TOM: I don't know. I have no idea how this works.

RAY: It doesn't, well, maybe it does magnify, but maybe it doesn't magnify. But if nothing else, it brings it into focus.

TOM: It does.

RAY: So that something that was close enough so that you could read it if you had good eyes is now readable because you have fixed the image by unfuzzying it.

TOM: Wow!

RAY: So that is one other solution to this problem. And I don't know exactly why it works. I don't remember.

TOM: It would be nice Who cares? If it works, it works. I don't really care how it works.

RAY: Well, I think what happens is all the light that was going all over the place now has to go through that little pinhole which you've made with your finger.

TOM: And so...that would say, though--if that theory is correct--that would say that you could produce the same effect with more light, and I don't think that's true.

RAY: Oh, yeah, it is.

TOM: If you put this right up here so you can't read it, right in front of your face...

RAY: And brighter light.

TOM: If I put a thousand watts, points of light--thanks to George Bush on that...

RAY: Yeah. You'll be able to...

TOM: It would clear it up?

RAY: Yeah.

TOM: Impossible.

RAY: Yeah.

TOM: Bullfeathers!

RAY: Well, the solution was, I turned on the bathroom light. Anyway, do we have a winner?

TOM: Yeah. We have winners.

RAY: Winners.

TOM: The winners this week are Pete and Barbara Van Kuren, I believe it is, from Conshahawkin, Pennsylvania.

RAY: Love it!

TOM: Conshehawkin, Pennsylvania.

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