The Brain – Your Body’s Attic Space

Modified version of an image originally upload...
That's Where I Left My Keys

So I’m working through the wreckage of my past, found dumped in a dozen broken cardboard boxes. This is a fascinating process for me because basically I have no memory. I’m not an amnesia victim, I’ve never had a traumatic brain injury. Well you know, as far as I can say. I just don’t remember things much. This leads to strange revelations, like coming across a comic strip that I have no recollection of seeing before, but which was quite clearly written and drawn by me. The old made new. What’s especially great is if one of these actually makes me laugh.

It’s all right to laugh at your own jokes when you don’t remember being the person who made them.

God my drawing used to be awful though. Stupid I know, but it gets me down. I know I am not by any means a good artist now; my drawing is merely adequate to the task, but I don’t mind that. And it’s not the fact that I wasn’t any good as a child. Why would I be? What’s depressing is that I thought I was.

Seems I really was a fairly bright kid though. I came across a Mensa entrance test that I’d taken but never submitted. Yeah, I considered applying to Mensa once. But then I figured, it’s a club that admits the smartest two percent of the population. Why slum it?

Also there was the small matter of a fee. I looked through it again. Some questions seemed pretty damn difficult even to adult me. In fact I’m not sure if I’d do any better now than I would’ve at fourteen.

Which is also depressing.

I thought I would reproduce one of the questions here. I think I know what the answer is meant to be, but I’m not completely sure there isn’t more than one solution:

In my aquarium I have all together in the same tank (1) garpa fish, which will eat both tennel fish and eels, (2) tennel fish, which eat eels, and (3) eels, which will feed on the dead bodies of garpa fish. The tennel fish can swim much too fast to be caught by the garpa fish, even in a tank. If no other food is given, which will be the last kind (or kinds) of fish left alive in the tank?

  1. Eels.
  2. Garpa fish and tennel fish.
  3. Tennel fish.
  4. Garpa fish.
  5. Tennel fish and eels.

Answer that, and you might be Mensa material. Though do bear in mind that the word means ‘table’.


7 thoughts on “The Brain – Your Body’s Attic Space

  1. I also don’t remember things. Is the answer Garpa & tennel fish? If the tennel can’t be caught, both species eat eels, and eels only eat already-dead garpa, then only eels will get eaten… right? Now I feel stupid.


  2. I don’t remember. OK . . . that’s what I thought the answer should be too. But it’s bugging me – am I making any unwarranted assumptions? We don’t know the lifespans or breeding rates of these fish, or their starting populations.

    For example if there were a lot of garpa and even more eels but only a few male tennels, then the first two could form a (very) crude ecosystem long after the tennels died out.


  3. It depends on the ratio of various fish and how long they can do without food?

    The eels are first to go, I’d say, although, in ever-weakening condition of the predators, if only a single eel manages to hide from the tennel/garpa feeding frenzy, he’ll be the longest survivor, because in the post-apocalyptic waste-tank, he’ll be munching dead Garpa long after the others are gone.


  4. I’m also troubled by the apparent contradiction that garpa fish will eat, but cannot catch, tennel fish. How can it be said that they will eat them if they cannot?

    Let’s examine this more closely: It actually only says that tennel fish “can swim much too fast to be caught by the garpa fish”.

    They can – but will they?


  5. The eels are eaten straightaway and as long as all the fish don’t die at the exact same time, (Which is very unlikely), then as soon as a Tennel fish dies, a Garpa fish will eat it. So last fish in the tank will be a Garpa.


    1. We can’t be sure though that enough Tennel will die in time to keep some Garpa alive. It sounds like a reasonable assumption, indeed it seems very likely. But without more information we can’t say it for certain. If they happen to have much longer lifespans, or very low nutritional value, all the Garpa could starve to death waiting for them to die.

      I think therefore the information that Garpa eat them is a red herring – or a dead Tennel – and the correct answer is the one that makes no assumptions but works strictly with the information given. Both Tennel and Garpa are still alive at the point where there is insufficient information to decide who dies next, making them the joint right answer.

      And giving us an insight into the Mensa mentality.


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