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#### You’re stranded in a rainforest, and you’ve eaten a poisonous mushroom. To save your life, you need an antidote excreted by a certain species of frog. Unfortunately, only the female frog produces the antidote. The male and female look identical, but the male frog has a distinctive croak. Derek Abbott shows how to use conditional probability to make sure you lick the right frog and get out alive. How do you get out alive?

**Answer: ** If you chose to go to the clearing, you're right, but the hard part is correctly calculating your odds. There are two common incorrect ways of solving this problem. Wrong answer number one: Assuming there's a roughly equal number of males and females, the probability of any one frog being either sex is one in two, which is 0.5, or 50%. And since all frogs are independent of each other, the chance of any one of them being female should still be 50% each time you choose. This logic actually is correct for the tree stump, but not for the clearing. Wrong answer two: First, you saw two frogs in the clearing. Now you've learned that at least one of them is male, but what are the chances that both are? If the probability of each individual frog being male is 0.5, then multiplying the two together will give you 0.25, which is one in four, or 25%. So, you have a 75% chance of getting at least one female and receiving the antidote. So here's the right answer. Going for the clearing gives you a two in three chance of survival, or about 67%. If you're wondering how this could possibly be right, it's because of something called conditional probability. Let's see how it unfolds. When we first see the two frogs, there are several possible combinations of male and female. If we write out the full list, we have what mathematicians call the sample space, and as we can see, out of the four possible combinations, only one has two males. So why was the answer of 75% wrong? Because the croak gives us additional information. As soon as we know that one of the frogs is male, that tells us there can't be a pair of females, which means we can eliminate that possibility from the sample space, leaving us with three possible combinations. Of them, one still has two males, giving us our two in three, or 67% chance of getting a female. This is how conditional probability works. You start off with a large sample space that includes every possibility. But every additional piece of information allows you to eliminate possibilities, shrinking the sample space and increasing the probability of getting a particular combination. The point is that information affects probability. And conditional probability isn't just the stuff of abstract mathematical games. It pops up in the real world, as well. Computers and other devices use conditional probability to detect likely errors in the strings of 1's and 0's that all our data consists of. And in many of our own life decisions, we use information gained from past experience and our surroundings to narrow down our choices to the best options so that maybe next time, we can avoid eating that poisonous mushroom in the first place.

**Solution: **

## Show Answer

If you chose to go to the clearing, you’re right, but the hard part is correctly calculating your odds. There are two common incorrect ways of solving this problem. Wrong answer number one: Assuming there’s a roughly equal number of males and females, the probability of any one frog being either sex is one in two, which is 0.5, or 50%. And since all frogs are independent of each other, the chance of any one of them being female should still be 50% each time you choose. This logic actually is correct for the tree stump, but not for the clearing. Wrong answer two: First, you saw two frogs in the clearing. Now you’ve learned that at least one of them is male, but what are the chances that both are? If the probability of each individual frog being male is 0.5, then multiplying the two together will give you 0.25, which is one in four, or 25%. So, you have a 75% chance of getting at least one female and receiving the antidote. So here’s the right answer. Going for the clearing gives you a two in three chance of survival, or about 67%. If you’re wondering how this could possibly be right, it’s because of something called conditional probability. Let’s see how it unfolds. When we first see the two frogs, there are several possible combinations of male and female. If we write out the full list, we have what mathematicians call the sample space, and as we can see, out of the four possible combinations, only one has two males. So why was the answer of 75% wrong? Because the croak gives us additional information. As soon as we know that one of the frogs is male, that tells us there can’t be a pair of females, which means we can eliminate that possibility from the sample space, leaving us with three possible combinations. Of them, one still has two males, giving us our two in three, or 67% chance of getting a female. This is how conditional probability works. You start off with a large sample space that includes every possibility. But every additional piece of information allows you to eliminate possibilities, shrinking the sample space and increasing the probability of getting a particular combination. The point is that information affects probability. And conditional probability isn’t just the stuff of abstract mathematical games. It pops up in the real world, as well. Computers and other devices use conditional probability to detect likely errors in the strings of 1’s and 0’s that all our data consists of. And in many of our own life decisions, we use information gained from past experience and our surroundings to narrow down our choices to the best options so that maybe next time, we can avoid eating that poisonous mushroom in the first place.

## Show Answer

If you chose to go to the clearing, you’re right, but the hard part is correctly calculating your odds. There are two common incorrect ways of solving this problem. Wrong answer number one: Assuming there’s a roughly equal number of males and females, the probability of any one frog being either sex is one in two, which is 0.5, or 50%. And since all frogs are independent of each other, the chance of any one of them being female should still be 50% each time you choose. This logic actually is correct for the tree stump, but not for the clearing. Wrong answer two: First, you saw two frogs in the clearing. Now you’ve learned that at least one of them is male, but what are the chances that both are? If the probability of each individual frog being male is 0.5, then multiplying the two together will give you 0.25, which is one in four, or 25%. So, you have a 75% chance of getting at least one female and receiving the antidote. So here’s the right answer. Going for the clearing gives you a two in three chance of survival, or about 67%. If you’re wondering how this could possibly be right, it’s because of something called conditional probability. Let’s see how it unfolds. When we first see the two frogs, there are several possible combinations of male and female. If we write out the full list, we have what mathematicians call the sample space, and as we can see, out of the four possible combinations, only one has two males. So why was the answer of 75% wrong? Because the croak gives us additional information. As soon as we know that one of the frogs is male, that tells us there can’t be a pair of females, which means we can eliminate that possibility from the sample space, leaving us with three possible combinations. Of them, one still has two males, giving us our two in three, or 67% chance of getting a female. This is how conditional probability works. You start off with a large sample space that includes every possibility. But every additional piece of information allows you to eliminate possibilities, shrinking the sample space and increasing the probability of getting a particular combination. The point is that information affects probability. And conditional probability isn’t just the stuff of abstract mathematical games. It pops up in the real world, as well. Computers and other devices use conditional probability to detect likely errors in the strings of 1’s and 0’s that all our data consists of. And in many of our own life decisions, we use information gained from past experience and our surroundings to narrow down our choices to the best options so that maybe next time, we can avoid eating that poisonous mushroom in the first place.

#### Why is green grass like a mouse?

**Answer: ** Green grass is like a mouse, because the cattle eat it (cat’ll eat it).

**Solution: **

#### Taking that internship in a remote mountain lab might not have been the best idea. Pulling that lever with the skull symbol just to see what it did probably wasn’t so smart either. But now is not the time for regrets because you need to get away from these mutant zombies…fast. Can you use math to get you and your friends over the bridge before the zombies arrive? Alex Gendler shows how.

**Answer: ** At first it might seem like no matter what you do, you're just a minute or two short of time, but there is a way. The key is to minimize the time wasted by the two slowest people by having them cross together. And because you'll need to make a couple of return trips with the lantern, you'll want to have the fastest people available to do so. So, you and the lab assistant quickly run across with the lantern, though you have to slow down a bit to match her pace. After two minutes, both of you are across, and you, as the quickest, run back with the lantern. Only three minutes have passed. So far, so good. Now comes the hard part. The professor and the janitor take the lantern and cross together. This takes them ten minutes since the janitor has to slow down for the old professor who keeps muttering that he probably shouldn't have given the zombies night vision. By the time they're across, there are only four minutes left, and you're still stuck on the wrong side of the bridge. But remember, the lab assistant has been waiting on the other side, and she's the second fastest of the group. So she grabs the lantern from the professor and runs back across to you. Now with only two minutes left, the two of you make the final crossing. As you step on the far side of the gorge, you cut the ropes and collapse the bridge behind you, just in the nick of time.

**Solution: **

## Show Answer

At first it might seem like no matter what you do, you’re just a minute or two short of time, but there is a way. The key is to minimize the time wasted by the two slowest people by having them cross together. And because you’ll need to make a couple of return trips with the lantern, you’ll want to have the fastest people available to do so. So, you and the lab assistant quickly run across with the lantern, though you have to slow down a bit to match her pace. After two minutes, both of you are across, and you, as the quickest, run back with the lantern. Only three minutes have passed. So far, so good. Now comes the hard part. The professor and the janitor take the lantern and cross together. This takes them ten minutes since the janitor has to slow down for the old professor who keeps muttering that he probably shouldn’t have given the zombies night vision. By the time they’re across, there are only four minutes left, and you’re still stuck on the wrong side of the bridge. But remember, the lab assistant has been waiting on the other side, and she’s the second fastest of the group. So she grabs the lantern from the professor and runs back across to you. Now with only two minutes left, the two of you make the final crossing. As you step on the far side of the gorge, you cut the ropes and collapse the bridge behind you, just in the nick of time.

## Show Answer

At first it might seem like no matter what you do, you’re just a minute or two short of time, but there is a way. The key is to minimize the time wasted by the two slowest people by having them cross together. And because you’ll need to make a couple of return trips with the lantern, you’ll want to have the fastest people available to do so. So, you and the lab assistant quickly run across with the lantern, though you have to slow down a bit to match her pace. After two minutes, both of you are across, and you, as the quickest, run back with the lantern. Only three minutes have passed. So far, so good. Now comes the hard part. The professor and the janitor take the lantern and cross together. This takes them ten minutes since the janitor has to slow down for the old professor who keeps muttering that he probably shouldn’t have given the zombies night vision. By the time they’re across, there are only four minutes left, and you’re still stuck on the wrong side of the bridge. But remember, the lab assistant has been waiting on the other side, and she’s the second fastest of the group. So she grabs the lantern from the professor and runs back across to you. Now with only two minutes left, the two of you make the final crossing. As you step on the far side of the gorge, you cut the ropes and collapse the bridge behind you, just in the nick of time.

#### A woman waved to a man in a taxi. She got into the taxi and told the taxi driver where to take her. He nodded to her and drove. The woman talked a lot and that annoyed the taxi driver. The taxi driver said,” Ma’am, I can’t hear what you are saying! I am as deaf as a post!” The woman stopped talking for the rest of the ride. Once she got out of the taxi, she realized he was lying. How did she know?

**Answer: ** There are two ways she figured out: 1. He would have had to hear her to know she was talking as he was focusing on driving. 2. He would not have heard her directions if he was deaf and wouldn't have nodded in response as a way to confirm he got the directions.

**Solution: **

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