Puzzle of the Week: Find the Hard Cider

Geek Culture

Photo:Muffet/flickr (CC-attribution)Photo:Muffet/flickr (CC-attribution)

Photo:Muffet/flickr (CC-attribution)

This week, we need your help finding one bottle of hard cider among the more than 250 bottles of sparkling cider destined for a large party for the local school. E-mail your solution by 10:00 PM EST on Thursday for your chance to win a $50 gift certificate from ThinkGeek!

Two days before the big high school party, the parent organizers had unloaded 1000 bottles of sparkling cider and had hidden them in a locked storage closet at the school. At lunch time the day of the party, one of the teachers noticed that the door to the storage closet was opened. After investigating, the parent discovered that there were 1001 identical bottles and that all of the labels had been removed and tossed in the trash. One of the labels indicated that it belonged to a bottle of alcoholic cider rather than non-alcoholic cider. There are more than a dozen parent and teacher volunteers, all of whom are teetotalers who would get drunk on a single sip of hard cider. Strangely, it would take two hours for any of them to exhibit signs of drunkenness; they have five hours before the party starts. There’s not enough time for one person to go through and taste from all 1001 bottles. Each of the volunteerss claims to be very busy with other preparations and doesn’t want to spend a lot of time on this or to drink much cider just before the party, but they all want the hard cider to be found and removed.

Given the time constraint, what is the smallest number of volunteers needed to find the alcoholic cider, and how would you do it?

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