The Flying Pig Puzzle

The Flying Pig Puzzle

Create June 03, 2012 / By Barry R. Clarke
The Flying Pig Puzzle

Pigs can run and walk, But it's time for airborne pork!

The first known expression of the impossibility of pigs flying appears in Walter Haddon’s Against Ierome Osorius Byshopp of Siluane in Portingall and against his slauderous inuectiues which was printed in London in 1581. After testimony relating to the unreliability of the accused, we find on page 485 “This is a great promise, my good Lord: But when will this be done? When pigges flye with their tayles foreward, and when S. James of Compostella, and our Lady of Waltsingham become man and wife”. Presumably, the Lady was repelled by the smell of James’s compost.

It is often thought to have been first published in John Withals's A shorte dictionarie in Latine and English in 1586 but the above example predates it by five years. Notable uses of the adynaton include Lewis Carroll's 1865 fantasy tale Alice in Wonderland: “I’ve a right to think,” said Alice sharply ... “Just about as much right,” said the Duchess, “as pigs have to fly.” More recently, Pink Floyd presented a picture of a flying pig on the front of their 1977 album Animals. In April 2009, The Daily Express, an English tabloid newspaper, blasted a chilling headline across its front cover “Killer Flu is Here” in order to convince the British public that they were certain to be consumed by an imminent swine flu pandemic. By the time it was evident that the danger was minimal, a hiccup more than a sneeze, the Express had pocketed a healthy profit from additional sales. Swine flu? When pigs fly!

In France the equivalent expression of impossibility is “when hens have teeth”, the Polish exclaim “when a cactus grows on my arm”, the Venezuelans "when frogs dance the flamenco”, the Chinese “when the yellow river runs clear”, and in Japan “when the sun rises in the west”. Some cultures merely vary the aviating animal. So the Spanish prefer “when cows fly” while in Italy we find “when donkeys fly”. The choice of sheep, duck, or rooster is inadvisable since they all took a ride in Montgolfier’s balloon in 1783. Also out are cats, dogs, frogs, goldfish, hamsters, and monkeys, all of which participated in US radiation exposure tests conducted in balloons from 1947–60. As for space flight, the US have also used fruit flies, wasps, bees, beetles, fish, spiders, crickets, shrimp, stick insects, snails, and ants while the Soviets have taken a rabbit, guinea pigs, a tortoise, worms, rats, and newts into Earth orbit. It seems that the only animal not to have flown is a pig!

So this week’s puzzle is an attempt, once and for all, to get a pig to fly.

Shown below is a view of a pig’s head. Can you add a triangle to the picture to get it to fly?

Last Week's Puzzle

Viewing the equation upside down the two lines are rearranged as shown. Taking the position of each letter in the alphabet L+I+N+E=40. Roger from Tanzania found a way to make a true statement by converting the equals sign into a greater than sign.


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