GeekDad Puzzle of the Week Solution: Boomerang vs. Zombie

Geek Culture

Thanks, Torben, for the illustrative image

I am continually chuffed by the wondrous answers dreamed up by GeekDad readers as well as by the tidbits I wouldn’t get anywhere else: for example, from Dan, “Boomerangs have never been used an impact weapons [sic]. They were actually used by certain aboriginal tribes to flush out game.” I fact-checked this and of course, Dan is correct. Another reader pointed out that if a non-Romero zombie could run at the indicated speed, it would also likely be able to climb the tree and no matter his actions, our hero is up the proverbial creek sans proverbial paddle. Still another, who in his defense is Canadian said, “Actually, the person should pull out their trusty aluminum baseball bat and wind up to give the zombie a perfect head home run.” A similar suggestion was given that our hero whip out the double-barreled shotgun he certainly had behind his back, whack the zombie, and then pocket the returned boomerang before walking into the sunset.

Okay, okay, but what if you just read the puzzle without imposing on it the will of your arcane knowledge? In case you didn’t see it, here it is:

Our hero throws a boomerang in the attempt to decapitate a zombie standing 30 yards away. But two seconds after he releases the ‘rang, the zombie charges. The boomerang tracks a perfect circle at 30 mph, and the zombie instantly lurches to a surprisingly speedy 15 mph (no “Romero” zombie is this, apparently). Here’s the question: Should our hero stand his ground and await the return of his weapon, or one second after the zombie charges, should he run at 10 mph toward a tree 8 yards directly behind him that would take him 2 seconds to climb to the height of safety?

And the answer is that our hero should run. The zombie reaches your initial spot at 6.1 seconds, the boomerang .3 seconds later. This is bad. But the hero can get to the height of safety at 6.9 seconds with the zombie reaching the tree at 7.2 seconds. If you really want to hurt your brain, imagine if our hero ran toward the returning boomerang, either along the path of the circle or at an angle to intercept (while the zombie concurrently veered towards him). Ouch.

The winner of the weekly $50 gift certificate from ThinkGeek, chosen from more entrants than I’ve seen thus far, is WILL E. For the rest of you non-winners, who are still winners in my book but are technically losers, you can get a sweet discount at ThinkGeek by using this code: GEEKDAD68JH

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