8 Identical Balls Problem

Question: 

You are given 8 identical looking balls. One of them is heavier than the rest of the 7 (all the others weigh exactly the same). You a provided with a simple mechanical balance and you are restricted to only 2 uses. Find the heavier ball.

.

.

C

A

P

T

A

I

N

I

N

T

E

R

V

I

E

W

.

.

Solution: For convenience sake, let’s name the balls 1-8. First we weigh {1,2,3} on the left and {4,5,6} on the right. There are three scenarios which can arise from this.If the left side is heavier, then we know that one of 1, 2 or 3 is the heavier ball. Weigh {1} on the left and {2} on the right. By doing this, we will know if 1 or 2 is heavier. If they balance out, then 3 is the heavier one.If the right side is heavier, then we know that either 4, 5 or 6 is the heavier ball. Weigh {4} on the left and {5} on the right. By doing this we will know if 4 or 5 is heavier. If they balance out, then 6 is the heavier one.If {1,2,3} and {4,5,6} balance out, then we know either 7 or 8 is the heavier one. Weigh both of them to find out which one is heavier.

Confused yet? or was it too easy? This is one of the basic identical ball problems. Here is a more complex problem involving 12 balls with one fake.

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