Puzzles & Quizzes

Can You Solve the Poisoned Wine Brain Teaser?

The poisoned wine brain teaser by PBS Infinite Series requires knowledge of binary numbers in order to solve it. It's a tough one, but give it a shot. (There is wine involved, after all!)

Here's the Brain Teaser

You have 1,000 bottles of wine, and exactly one bottle is poisoned. You need to find the poisoned wine before your party starts in an hour. You have 10 rats to test on to find out which bottle is deadly. The poison takes effect after an hour of consumption, so you only have one chance to run your rat poison experiment, meaning you can't feed some rats wine and wait an hour before feeding them more wine. Assume each rat can drink as much wine as you feed it. How do you find the poisoned wine? Watch the video below to see how it's solved, or scroll down for the answer.

Can You Solve the Poisoned Wine Challenge?

Here's the Answer

Number each bottle 1-1,000. Under each base 10 number (that's just regular counting!), also write the number in binary (base 2). Line up your rats and allow them each to represent the digit of a binary number. Take each bottle of wine and feed it to those rats which represent a 1 in the binary representation of the bottle's label. For example, bottle four is 100 in binary, so the third rat will be fed the wine from that bottle. After all the wines are distributed, you can literally read the binary number from the rats that are dead after an hour. See exactly how this works in the video above — it's pretty incredible.

If you're looking for more brain teasers, check out "399 Games, Puzzles, & Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young" by Nancy Linde. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Curiosity Staff January 19, 2017

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