Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The 18th Camel

This is a story that I listened to this morning from a TED talk given by William Ury.

"There once was an old father who had 3 sons and 17 camels. When the old man died, he left 1/2 of the camels to his oldest son, 1/3 of the camels to the middle son, and 1/9 of the camels to the youngest son. They realized that you can't divide 17 by 1/2, 1/3, or 1/9, so the began arguing and tension started to rise.

They found a wise old woman and asked for her help. She thought and thought and finally said, "Well, that's a difficult situation, but if it helps any, you can have my camel."

So the three brothers took the old woman's camel and now had 18 camels. The first son took 1/2 of the camels (which is 9), the second son took 1/3 of the camels (which is 6), and the third son took 1/9 of the camels (which is 2), which comes to a total of 17 camels.

So they returned the 18th camel back to the woman."


Interesting story, isn't it? He used this story to explain how many problems to our solutions come from sitting back and trying to look at the whole picture.

2 comments:

Kathy Haynie said...

That is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it!

Katie said...

Poof!

I think my brain just exploded from the complexity of that math.