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 The Old Man's Riddle (Posted on 2007-11-01)
As a new reporter for The Sun, I was assigned to a human interest story about a man who was supposed to be the oldest person in his village and perhaps the oldest person in the world. I was intrigued to meet the gentleman, and happy to do the interview. When I was done I showed my editor my notes (which I had written on a napkin) of what the old man had said:

"How old am I? Let me add up the days."

"I ‘ave spent as many years as the days that fog covered the world.
I ‘ave lived as long as it took Tiberius to sail a parsec at sea.
For each of Nemo’s cables, a minute I 'ave endured.
As many years as Arthur N. Ford’s answer to the unknown.
I saw the long 'and pass by as often as the traveller circled the sun."

After seeing my notes my editor would not print the article until I could provide the old man’s age.

How old did he claim to be?

 No Solution Yet Submitted by Leming Rating: 4.5000 (2 votes)

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"I ‘ave spent as many years as the days that fog covered the world.
Phileas Fogg (“fog”) covered the world in 80 days in Jules Verne’s “Around the World in Eighty Days".

I ‘ave lived as long as it took Tiberius to sail a parsec at sea.
c (“sea”), is the symbol for the Latin word celeritas, translated as "speed" or "swiftness", and is the universal notation for the the speed of light in a vacuum. A parsec, being approximately 3.262 light-years, gives 3 years to be added to the old man’s age.

For each of Nemo’s cables, a minute I 'ave endured.
A cable is a nautical unit of measure equal to 1/10 of a nautical mile. A league, in nautical measure, is considered 3 nautical miles. Therefore, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" is about 600,000 cables. There are approximately that number of minutes in one year, thus the number of years the old man adds is 1.

As many years as Arthur N. Ford’s answer to the unknown.
'N' is a contraction used for the slurred word and.
Arthur Dent 'n' Ford Prefect's answer to the unknown in Douglas Adams' series "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is 42.

I saw the long 'and pass by as often as the traveller circled the sun."
This is the clue that puzzles me!
The easy part:
The long hand of an analog clock measures the minutes of an hour, thus the number as often as the traveller circled the sun would represent the number of minutes that would need conversion into years.
The hard part:
The only traveller I could think of would be the character referred to in H.G.Wells' “The Time Machine”. The character travelled to the year 802701 A.D. and back. The total number of times he would have circled the sun to this date and back would be approximately 1,600,000. The years, as given as minutes and then re-converted to years, equals approximately 3. This calculation excludes the fictional fact that the time traveller travelled roughly 30 million years further into the future before returning to his own time. Unfortunately, the latter would increase the old man's age to an indeterminate amount over 100 additional years – which is very unlikely.

How old did he claim to be?
If all my guesses and calculations are correct: 80 + 3 + 1 + 42 + 3 = 129 years old.

 Posted by Dej Mar on 2007-11-01 16:27:47

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