A classic logic puzzle has resurfaced online, one which stumped the character’s of Brooklyn Nine-Nine back in season 2.

Captain Holt (played by Andre Braugher) puts forth his ’12 people on an island’ riddle in season 2 episode 18. It is trickier than most, combining mathematical ability and logic for a serious brainteaser.

So, what is the ’12 people on an island’ riddle and what is the answer?

Andre Braugher in Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013) – IMDb

Riddle: ’12 people on an island’

In the episode, Holt says:

“There are 12 men on an island. 11 weigh exactly the same amount, but one of them is slightly lighter or heavier. You must figure out which. The island has no escapes, but there is a see-saw. The exciting catch? You can only use it three times.”

Here is a more precise retelling of the riddle we found. This way of wording will help make it easier to figure out the puzzle.

“There are 12 men on an island. 11 of them weigh the same and one of them is either slightly heavier or slightly lighter. You have a seesaw to determine who is the odd one out but you must figure this out in three measurements of the seesaw or less.”

Answer: ’12 people on an island’

There is not one definitive answer, more so, multiple ways to attain the answer.

Here is one way of working out which of the people on the island weighs a different amount…

Answer explained – step by step

  1. Number the islanders 1 to 12
  2. First weigh 1, 2, 3, 4 vs 5, 6, 7, 8 on the seesaw. If they are equal then…
  3. Weigh 9, 10, 11 vs 1, 2, 3. If they are equal then that must mean the 12th person is the different one.
  4. Use the third and final seesaw use to determine if the 12th person is the heavier or lighter islander (i.e. 1 v 12)

If you found that the second group weigh was unequal, then weigh 9 vs 10. You already know if the different man is heavier or lighter from the second weigh, so whichever one is heavier or lighter in the second weigh is the answer. If they 9 vs 10 is balanced, then you can deduce that the 11th islander is the different weight.

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