# Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone discussion

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Is Snape's Potion/logic puzzle solvable from what we know?

message 1: by (last edited Dec 22, 2012 06:50PM) (new)

I've tried to work out the logic puzzle that Hermione and Harry faced involving seven potion bottles and either I'm looking at it incorrectly or we really don't have enough information in the book to definitively solve the puzzle. (Of course we can't SEE the bottles)

Has anyone else examined this puzzle logically?

Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine’s left side;
Second, different are those who stand at either end,
But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.

Puzzling through the possible combinations I did come up with this order that works...
Left to Right
Poison
Wine
Forward (smallest)
Poison
Poison
Wine
Backward (largest)

But that's based on me arbitrarily assigning the largest and smallest. And my understanding that all left and right directions are based our point of view as we view them (not the bottles').

message 2: by (new)

This is a really cool breakdown of the puzzle:

http://expatronum.wordpress.com/solvi...

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Stephen wrote: "I've tried to work out the logic puzzle that Hermione and Harry faced involving seven potion bottles and either I'm looking at it incorrectly or we really don't have enough information in the book ..."

I don' know how we can possibly tell which are biggest and smallest without seeing a picture. Wish there was one in the book!

message 4: by (last edited Dec 22, 2012 06:49PM) (new)

Laura wrote: "...I don' know how we can possibly tell which are biggest and smallest without seeing a picture." You can't. But then with this type of puzzle, one takes the given and makes all else the variables. Sometimes one can figure these things out.

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Laura wrote: "Stephen wrote: "I've tried to work out the logic puzzle that Hermione and Harry faced involving seven potion bottles and either I'm looking at it incorrectly or we really don't have enough informat..."

I agree with you, she should have placed a picture in the book at this point so that we really could have tried to work it out for ourselves before reading on and finding out how Harry and Hermione figured it out. They had this as part of book 1 on the Pottermore website and it took me a couple of attempts to get it right lol.

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Micki wrote: "Laura wrote: "Stephen wrote: "I've tried to work out the logic puzzle that Hermione and Harry faced involving seven potion bottles and either I'm looking at it incorrectly or we really don't have ..."

it took me a while to get it too

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I came up with the exactly ordering as you. Well done. In my opinion the middle MUST be the forward potion, because if it was poison, then that would place it to the immediate RIGHT of a nettle wine. This wouldn't BREAK any rules, but knowing how orderly Snape is, he wouldn't like having poison to the right of a wine, it's sort of an organizational faux pas in this scenario.

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I don't think it is solvable, because in Hermione's answer, she refers to sizes that would need to be known to solve the puzzle.

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Cool link, Jeni! Reminds me of the way my Dad would figure it out; using math. :)

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You can't work through the puzzle, there's not enough information. I've often wished they had put a picture of the bottles in the book, showing the relative size and position of each bottle. That would provide enough information to solve it. But without that, you can only guess.

On the other hand, it might be possible work backwords (with Hermione's answer as one of the clues) and figure out where the different sized bottles are. I haven't tried this yet though.

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i think its almost solvable,...except you can't really know if the small bottle is third or fourth, since there was no picture.

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yes we can because all the clues are there!

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MadMeethi wrote:"yes we can because all the clues are there! "

oh so how do you do it then?

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I've tried so many times to figure it out on paper but I think we would need to ,see the bottles to figure it out.

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmm, good question. I think Anabeth would be able to figure it out: )

Seriously though, IDK

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shows a possible arrangement of bottles.

I have the two possible arrangements at the bottom.

Actually, we can work it out down to three bottles, with the fact that it is possible and all clues are needed as clues. We can go further(to two) knowing which ones hermione picked.

A: Nettle wine cannot be in the left spot, because it could not have poison on the left.

B: The "go back" must be one of the bottles on the ends, as clue 1 is the only clue that distinguishes between "forward" and "back".

C: Now, if the back bottle is on the left, then nettle wine could not be second to the left. Therefore poison, the other duplicated item, must be second left and right. Poison cannot be on the right, because only one nettle wine could have poison to it's left, so nettle wine must be on the right. Therefore, if poison is in the middle, we cannot know which spot the second wine goes in(Dwarf/giant can hold wine!) If it is on the third-from-left, wine would be in middle and forward third-from-right, and if the poison is on the third-from-right, the wine is third-from-left and forward is in the middle. The choice there could be figured out by a giant in the non-middle-non-poison spot, and the dwarf could be on the left, where poison is if back is not there. However, Hermione took the bottle from the right.

D: If back is on the right, poison must be on the left, and poison cannot go in second spaces.(One wine would have nowhere to go.)Therefore, wine would be in second spaces, and another poison would be third-from-left. We can see that the poison and forward are in the middle and third-from-left, which could be marked by a dwarf. We can prove this scenario if a giant is in one of the second spots.

E: Actually, the narration said that the back bottle was on the right. It would likely say the forward was in the middle if it was, and therefore I am assuming the forward was not in the middle. This gives us two bottle arrangements(Giant must be in one of the second spots. As the forward bottle was tiny, it must be the dwarf.)

Spoilers ended

G for giant
D for dwarf
N for normal

Arrangement 1:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
NGDNNNN

Arrangement 2:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
NNDNNGN

I personally think it was more likely the second to avoid the "specials" being adjacent.

message 17: by (last edited Jul 19, 2016 01:47AM) (new)

AgCl wrote: "i think its almost solvable,...except you can't really know if the small bottle is third or fourth, since there was no picture."

Technically true, so my two are four. However, I think they would have mentioned it being the middle one Harry took, like hermione took the right.

Therefore it would be the third.