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Artillerymen's Dilemma
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"All cannon-balls are to be piled in square pyramids," was the order issued to the regiment. 
This was done. 
Then came the further order, "All pyramids are to contain a square number of balls." 
Whereupon the trouble arose. 

"It can't be done," said the major. 
"Look at this pyramid, for example; there are sixteen balls at the base, then nine, then four, then one at the top, making thirty balls in all. But there must be six more balls, or five fewer, to make a square number." 
"It must be done," insisted the general. 
"All you have to do is to put the right number of balls in your pyramids." 
"I've got it!" said a lieutenant, the mathematical genius of the regiment. 
"Lay the balls out singly." 
"Bosh!" exclaimed the general. "You can't pile one ball into a pyramid!" 

Is it really possible to obey both orders?

See answer





Math Genius