Archetype solutions

Here are my answers to the Archetype puzzle I presented last week. If you haven’t seen it yet, go read that first. This entire post is a spoiler.

Oh, and feel free to quibble with my answers in the comments.

1. Red and blue balls in an urn

Probability, combinatorics

2. Galapagos finches

Evolution, allopatric speciation or adaptive radiation

3. Alice, Bob, and Eve

Cryptography, eavesdropping

4. A spherical cow

Theoretical physics, simplifying approximation

5. Lynx and snowshoe hare

Community ecology, predator-prey dynamics

6. Brain-in-a-vat

Epistemology (Philosophy is acceptable, too), solipsism

7. “Hello, world!”

Computer science, programming

8. The monkey and the hunter

Newtonian physics, gravity

9. The babysitting cooperative

Macroeconomics, the paradox of thrift

Bonus (2 points): What follows? Up, up, down, down

left, right, left, right, B, A  (you may also include ‘select, start’ or just ‘start’ at the end)

Permanent link to this article: http://ecologybits.com/index.php/2016/03/09/archetype-solutions/


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  1. Jeremy Fox

    Ok, I nearly ran the table except for 7 and 8, with 8 being the only one for which I had no clue. So since I’m too lazy to google it: what does the monkey and the hunter have to do with Newtonian gravity? Is it an analogy to a two-body problem in which the two masses end up “chasing” each other around a shared orbit?

    1. Margaret Kosmala

      Since I’m too lazy to write out an explanation when there are plenty of good ones already on the Interwebs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkey_and_the_Hunter

      1. Jeremy Fox

        Touche. 🙂

      2. Jeremy Fox

        p.s. I imagine that you never get tired of hearing people say “touche'”, do you? 🙂

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