## Want to be a safe-cracker like Richard Feynman ? :-)

You must have heard of “the” American, darling, maverick, physicist, Nobel-Laureate, Mr. Richard Feynman. He was one of the young, brilliant team of physicists assembled at Los Alamos for the secret atomic bomb project. (There were many others also!) In his autobiography, “Surely, you are joking, Mr. Feynman!”, he says that he used to pick locks, and cracks safes containing top-secret stuffs at Los Alamos. He was a prankster!! You too can try to see if you can be a “good” safecracker ๐

The combination of a safe consists of the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4. There are only the four numbers in the combination but the safe is computerized and changes the combination each time it is closed. Each number appears only once in each combination. The person opening the safe is only allowed four attempts, after which the safe cannot be opened for at least 48 hours. When you tap into the combination on the push-button panel, there is a display next to the panel which indicates the number of numbers you have “tapped in” in the correct position. The last time that I opened the safe I tapped in the following combinations; on my first attempt I tapped in 3 1 2 4, none of which were in the correct place. I then tapped in 2 3 4 1; again none of the numbers were in the correct place. On my third attempt I only tapped in the number 1 in first place; the safe indicated that it was not ย in the correct place, after which I then knew the combination. What was the correct combination?

There is a chapter in Richard Feynman’s autobiography: He fixes radios by thinking!!! So, now u can pick locks and cracks safes by thinking !! By the way, this is also a nice exercise in permutations and combinations.

Cheers,

Nalin Pithwa.