Long time ago in Egypt, an old man died and left a herd of 41 camels to his three sons. According to his will, the oldest son should get 1/2 of the camels, the second son 1/3, and the youngest 1/7 of the herd. While the sons were wondering on how to follow these instructions, a wise man came on his camel and solved the problem in the following way: he added his own camel to the herd, so that it now consisted of 42 camels. Now the first son could get 1/2 (= 21 camels), the second one 1/3 (= 14 camels), and the third son 1/7 (= 6 camels). The wise man’s camel was still left, so he could take it back and leave, the problem was solved. Why does this approach work? And by what other numbers could 2, 3, 7, 41 be replaced so that the story remains the same? What if the old man had four sons, . . . ?

  • $\begingroup$ See my answer to the Asking uncle's help to divide goats problem, which explains what is going on in a very similar problem. $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2020 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ The approach worked because if you add up all the fractions, the result will be less than 1. $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2020 at 18:34


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