King Solomon Outwits a Thief
Editor’s Note: The following story is fictitious, presented for amusement only.
One day King Solomon decided that he needed a new crown. So he went down to his vault, punched in his PIN Code, and entered the huge vault containing his treasures. He saw that he had four bars of gold that were exactly identical. He took one bar of gold and gave it to the royal goldsmith to fashion a new crown. When the goldsmith returned with the finished product, the wise king suspected that the goldsmith removed some of the gold and replaced it with a lighter, cheaper metal such as copper. So King Solomon put the crown on a balance scale with one of the other identical gold bars and found that they balanced exactly. Neverthless, the king had the goldsmith arrested and thrown in the dungeon.
How did King Solomon know that the goldsmith was guilty?
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Solution: King Solomon, wisest of all men, knew that density is equal to mass per volume. So if the crown and gold bar had the same mass and if the crown contained a metal of lower density, then the volume of the crown must be greater than the volume of the gold bar. Using various techniques of water displacement and careful measurements, King Solomon ascertained that the volume of the crown was indeed greater than the volume of the gold bar, suggesting that it contained material of lower density. When the goldsmith was confronted with this information, he admitted guilt and begged for leniency, so he was thrown in the dungeon.