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Tower of Brahma





A romantic legend manufactured by Edouard Lucas as an accompaniment to the popular game he invented, the Tower of Hanoi. According to the tale of the Tower of Brahma, in the Indian city of Benares, beneath a dome that marked the center of the world, is to be found a brass plate in which are set three diamond needles, "each a cubit high and as thick as the body of a bee." Brahma placed 64 disks of pure gold on one of these needles at the time of Creation. Each disk is a different size, and each is placed so that it rests on top of another disk of greater size, with the largest resting on the brass plate at the bottom and the smallest at the top. Within the temple are priests whose job it is to transfer all the gold disks from their original needle to one of the others, without ever moving more than one disk at a time. No priest can ever place any disk on top of a smaller one, or anywhere else except on one of the needles. When the task is done, and all 64 disks have been successfully transferred to another needle, "tower, temple, and Brahmins alike will crumble into dust, and with a thunder-clap the world will vanish." The prediction (thunder-clap aside) seems fairly safe given that the number of steps required to transfer all the disks is 264 - 1, which is approximately 1.84471019. Assuming one second per move, this would take about five times longer than the current age of the universe!


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   • GAMES AND PUZZLES