Aug 10, 2020
RAY: This puzzler was sent in by Jerry Galloway. Here it is:
My friend had purchased a piece of slate to put into the floor in the hearth in front of his fireplace. The slate was 3/4 of an inch thick, by 10 inches wide, by 48 inches long, and weighed on the order of 175 pounds. He had cut a hole in the oak floor that was the same size as the piece of slate.
He had to plunk it right there, and get his fingers out of the way as fast as possible!
The depth of the hole was exactly 3/4 of an inch, the same as the slate. And, of course, there was the subfloor underneath. When he put one end of the slate into the hole in the floor, he realized that he would have to drop the other end to get the slate into the hole. He realized that if he dropped the brittle slate, even half an inch, it would break.
Not only that, but it wouldn't go in the hole, anyway. There was so little clearance that he couldn't even use that thin fishing line to lower the end of the slate. So he sat there for the longest time, drinking beers and pondering this dilemma.
After his 5th or 6th trip to the kitchen, he returned with something that solved the problem in an elegant fashion.
What did he find there that allowed him to lower the slate into the hole without risk of breaking it?
RAY: He returned with something from the kitchen that solved the problem in an elegant fashion: the ice cube tray from the freezer. He simply placed a few strategic ice cubes on the sub-floor and balanced the slate on top of those. As the ice cubes melted, the slate lowered itself into the hole.