The clown is running away from the circus. The contortionist wants nothing more to do with him. She’s confessed everything to her husband, the strongman, who’s after the clown’s blood. The clown has no time to pack. Hurrying from the big top he snatches up his most treasured possessions and some refreshments:
- a makeup case
- a box camera, with tripod attached
- a cactus
- a roasted goose
- a magnum of champagne
Each item weighs exactly 3kg.
Soon he reaches the edge of a ravine. A rope bridge connected to the other side has a sign in front of it.
WARNING UNSTABLE STRUCTURE SAFE TO A MAXIMUM OF 75KG
The bridge is 100m long. The clown weighs 70kg. The strongman, who’s closing in, weighs considerably more. The clown must cross the bridge at once to effect his escape. How can he do so without abandoning any of his baggage?
Elsewhere, it’s school sports day. Conditions are perfect for the high jump — warm, sunny, still — and a talented young athlete has raised the bar to 1.85m, which happens to be his own height. On the first two attempts he fails. On the third attempt he succeeds.
“Chapeau!” says the French teacher.
“Awesome!” says the Chaplain.
“Unbelievable!” says the head of Mathematics.
“Actually,” the sports coach says, “it’s quite simple: a combination of talent, training, and technique. He cleared his own height but his centre of gravity didn’t.”
“What nonsense!” says the mathematician.
The clown barely breaks stride. Juggling with mismatched objects is part of his act and quick as a flash case, camera, cactus, fowl and fizz are in the air. At no point does he have more than one object in either hand so his weight never exceeds 73kg. The bridge holds. The clown gets away.
“Grrrr!” says the strongman, shaking his fists.