You are a cook in a remote area with no clocks or other way of keeping time other than a four-minute and a seven-minute hourglass. On the stove is a pot of boiling water. Jill asks you to cook a nine-minute egg in exactly 9 minutes, and you know she is a perfectionist and can tell if you undercook or overcook the egg by even a few seconds. How can you cook the egg for exactly 9 minutes?
Answer: 1. Flip both hourglasses over and drop the egg into the water.
2. When the 4-minute timer runs out, flip it over (4 minutes elapsed, 3 remaining on the 7-minute timer).
3. When the 7-minute timer runs out, flip it over. (7 minutes elapsed, 1 remaining in the 4-minute timer)
4. When the 4-minute timer runs out, flip the 7-minute timer over. (8 minutes elapsed. 6 minutes remained in the 7-minute timer, but flipping it over leaves one minute’s worth of sand on top. When it runs out exactly nine minutes will have elapsed.