I'm new to puzzling and have just dropped by. Here's a puzzle I made up. I have no idea if it is hard or easy.

Given to the Greeks by the Egyptians, it provides no answer for Buddhists seeking enlightenment yet many schoolchildren find it easily.


3 Answers 3


The answer is…



μ is a letter imported to Greek, apparently from the Egyptian hieroglyph for water.
It's also an answer used to signify in Buddhism that a question should be "unasked": that neither a positive nor a negative answer is meaningful, and that the act of posing the question has indicated misunderstanding.
Additionally, it's the sound that a cat makes.
Many schoolchildren will find μ when they work in physics/maths (especially when friction is encountered)

  • $\begingroup$ The 'schoolchildren' part is possibly a reference to the mathematical/scientific value that your answer represents $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2015 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ Well - This is so close to the correct answer that I'm tempted simply to accept it. However I'll hold out for a little more exactitude. (1) In England at least, children under the age of 11 regularly find this although they may have a different name for it. (2) Buddhists don't actually use the symbol "μ". Apart from those tiny quibbles, it is perfect. $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2015 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK: Slightly edited it. Should be correct now - great riddle! $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Jul 31, 2015 at 22:53
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ An experimental physicist performs an experiment involving two cats, and an inclined tin roof. // The two cats are very nearly identical; same sex, age, weight, breed, eye and hair color. // The physicist places both cats on the roof at the same height and lets them both go at the same time. One of the cats fall off the roof first so obviously there is some difference between the two cats. // What is the difference? // One cat has a greater mew. $\endgroup$
    – Pål GD
    Aug 1, 2015 at 14:15

Alternate answer (similar to Patrick Stevens):

Mean or average

Explanation 1:

The letter mu, often used to represent the average, is a Greek letter that's (apparently) borrowed from an Egyptian hieroglyph. Also, according to this article (http://www.amstat.org/publications/jse/v11n1/bakker.html) the concept of an average was used by the Egyptians to estimate how many years had passed. Since it's cited by Herodotus (Greek historian), maybe that's how Greeks developed the concept. The letter mu also sounds somewhat like a cat.

Explanation part 2:

Finding enlightenment in Buddhism means having infinite compassion and wisdom. If you're being mean, you cannot achieve enlightenment.

Explanation part 3:

Lots of schoolchildren all over the world find averages, though in many places (UK also, maybe?) they refer to them as the "mean", as do statisticians and others.

  • $\begingroup$ This is a better explanation, though I'm wondering where the OP went to school that this is so easy. If you're not ESL, it's generally considered the hardest. $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Jul 31, 2015 at 23:37

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to answer my own question but here was what I had in mind.

A cat's mew gives an audible clue to the answer which is MU.

The Egyptians gave the MU (μ) character to the Greeks and, to this day, it is the 12th letter of the Greek alphabet.

Buddhists in training who ask their master a question that does not warrant an answer may be answered with the Japanese word "MU" which has many possible interpretations but one of them is simply "No answer." It also signifies the instruction to, "Un-ask the question."

Children of age eleven may, in some educational systems be asked to add up a list of numbers and divide by how many there were. This gives them the average value called the arithmetic mean. The usual symbol for this is μ.


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