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A 12-foot long rope has two ends. One end of the rope is tied around a man's left ankle and the other end is tied around the man's right ankle.

If you are not allowed to untie the rope and you're not allowed to cut the rope or change the rope in any other way, is it possible to remove his pants, turn them inside-out (they'll still be stuck on the rope in some way) and put them back on correctly (with the zipper still in front)?

EDIT:

I would prefer a solution in which

You do not use the trick of pulling one pants leg through the other, but I'm not sure if it is entirely possible to do.

EDIT #2:

No cutting the pants open...AHEM PHYLYP. :D

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    $\begingroup$ I guess this is one of those practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Feb 11 '18 at 2:08
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    $\begingroup$ LOL @Randal'Thor...life problems man, life problems. Does anyone want to bet if Rand al'Thor will post a correct solution in the next 30 seconds? $\endgroup$ – NL628 Feb 11 '18 at 2:09
  • $\begingroup$ I’m not sure what the edited version is now asking; as discussed in its comments, the accepted solution works with a zero length rope if necessary, its just easier to visualise the solution by imagining the rope being there. Or do you want a solution where one leg doesn’t go through another? $\endgroup$ – Bass Feb 16 '18 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Bass Okay I fixed it...is it better? $\endgroup$ – NL628 Feb 16 '18 at 6:26
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    $\begingroup$ I still don’t get it. You can use a spoiler tag in the question itself to say directly what it is you want done differently, it’s much easier that way. $\endgroup$ – Bass Feb 16 '18 at 8:11
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Ok, having racked my brain on this for quite some time, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you don’t employ any underhanded tactics, it’s utterly

possible

to invert the pants.

To see why this is, notice that your legs and the rope form an unbreakable loop. The pant legs, on the other hand, form a cylinder through which the loop passes. The only way to invert such a cylinder is to pass one end through another, but

the body blocks this movement.

Since you cannot pass your upper body through one pant leg or another,

you have do the flip under a transformation. First take off the pants. Keep the bits around the ankles in place, so that the pants will invert. Now the rope is wearing inverted pants, and there is no upper body in the way, so you can pass one of the pant legs through another, so that the result is right-side-out pants on the rope. Then, pull the pants back up, inverting them in the process. The front side won’t change sides at any time during the process.

So, yeah, that was totally cool, and I’d absolutely give this question a super-upvote if one existed.

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  • $\begingroup$ The interesting thing is that this approach doesn't require a rope of any particular length (although minimum six foot would probably make it easiest to perform). I'd been working on a proper solution myself, but couldn't figure out how to bring the required length of rope below 18 feet.. $\endgroup$ – Trevor Powell Feb 11 '18 at 11:20
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    $\begingroup$ @TrevorPowell, yeah, I was just thinking about a variation with a superglue incident connecting the big toes, which would get rid of the loop hole loophole too. $\endgroup$ – Bass Feb 11 '18 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ Correct. The key was to do what you said in the 3rd line of the last hidden paragraph. Congratulations! $\endgroup$ – NL628 Feb 11 '18 at 17:47
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The way that immediately springs to my mind:

The rope runs inside the man's pants, tied to the man's ankles where it extends from the ends of the pant legs.

In this configuration, the pants may be taken off normally; the length of rope remains against the man's legs throughout, and doesn't obstruct the removal of the pants at all. Once removed, the pants may easily be pulled inside-out and put back on again, still with the rope remaining directly against the man's legs, inside the pants.

Note that as the rope is 12 feet long (probably far longer than the lengths of the man's legs, unless this puzzle gets a lateral-thinking tag), it probably would be helpful to wind a few coils of it around the man's waist, in between the tying of the ankles. It doesn't change the topology of the puzzle, but should make the make management of the excess rope easier. :)

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm taking huge advantage of the loosely specified starting condition in the puzzle. I'm not certain whether that was the intention. :) $\endgroup$ – Trevor Powell Feb 11 '18 at 3:01
  • $\begingroup$ Amazing answer, as it is totally my fault for not specifying the correct initial conditions :) +1, but I meant for the rope to be outside the pants. Lol $\endgroup$ – NL628 Feb 11 '18 at 3:52
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I’m not completely certain about an actual, topological answer yet, so in the meantime, here’s one that abuses a very literal loophole.

If the loops around the ankles are even just a bit loose, you can actually completely remove the pants. It works just like changing your underpants to speedos while keeping your shorts on (a very useful technique on beaches with a long queue to the changing rooms, by the way):

First, drop the pants to your ankles. Then, start pulling one leg of the pants down through the rope loop. At some point, the waist line of the pants will go partially through the loop, and you can pull it over your foot. Then, you can pull the trousers back up through the rope loop, and you’ve got one leg out of the trousers. Repeat with the other leg, invert the pants, and use the procedure in reverse to get the pants back on.

I tried to find an instructional video for this on Youtube, but they are all utterly ghastly! So if you value your purity, DO NOT FOLLOW THIS LINK to the least horrifying one I could find.

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    $\begingroup$ This video might be better. $\endgroup$ – Kruga Feb 13 '18 at 9:28
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This is actually

possible

without

the trick of pulling one pants leg through the other

and without using

the trick in Trevor's answer of the rope starting off on the inside of the pants, or Bass' trick of passing the pants through the inside of the ankle knots.

provided that

the man is not too tall (the 12 feet of rope would perhaps be a bit short for a 6-foot tall person), and the pants are loose enough/the rope small enough for the rope to pass through each pant leg twice while the pants are on.

Explanation:

First, the pants are taken off, while turning them inside out. The pants are then rotated around the forward/backward axis so the zipper is on top again (and still in the front), and the pants are simply put back on. The right and left legs of the pants are switched in the process (and the following description of the rope uses the new left/right pants orientation). The rope now goes from the left ankle knot, up the inside of the left pant leg, out the top of the pants at the waist, down to the bottom of the right pant leg, up the right pant leg, across the crotch, straight down and out the left pant leg, up across and back into the waist at the right, down the inside of the right pant leg, and ends at the knot at the right ankle. With the rope needing roughly four leg lengths of vertical distance, three waist widths of horizontal distance, plus the length needed to tie the two knots, 12 feet might be a bit shorter than what is needed for an average man. Luckily, this can be solved by just not pulling the pants all the way up. :)

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Puzzling SE! Please take the Tour to get a better understanding of how our community expects. $\endgroup$ – Prince North Læraðr Feb 20 '18 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ Please edit the answer, as the OP has already hinted that you should not "You do not use the trick of pulling one pants leg through the other, but I'm not sure if it is entirely possible to do." $\endgroup$ – Prince North Læraðr Feb 20 '18 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ My answer doesn't do that, as I mentioned. Perhaps the explanation is unclear, but each pant leg only goes inside itself, when the pants are initially turned inside out (which is obviously required). $\endgroup$ – zwegner Feb 20 '18 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ Oh I see. Maybe clarify the explanation a little more? Good job aside from that $\endgroup$ – Prince North Læraðr Feb 21 '18 at 0:02
  • $\begingroup$ This was actually the answer I'd been working on in my "can't figure out how to do it with fewer than 18 feet of rope" comment. For some reason, it never occurred to me to just make the man shorter. I'm going to have to return my lateral-thinker badge! :) $\endgroup$ – Trevor Powell Mar 13 '18 at 2:20
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Inspired by Bass's earlier answer, here's abuse of another loophole / lack of specification, which uses lateral thinking instead of topology.

You've mentioned that:

you are not allowed to untie the rope and you're not allowed to cut the rope or change the rope in any other way

However the same constraint has not been applied to:

The pants.

Therefore, I'd achieve the goal of "remove his pants, turn them inside-out and put them back on correctly" by:

Employing a tailor to undo the seams of the pants on the sides, thereby removing the pants, flip them around, and stitch them back the other way around as required.


That said, I would not volunteer to be the subject in such an attempt:

...because the very thought of a needle being employed to do up the threads in the crotch region make me shudder!

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe you should tighten up the question to avoid this loophole as well, @nl628 ? $\endgroup$ – Phylyp Feb 19 '18 at 15:55
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There are two reasons why you would ask this question. Either you have taken a hostage, or you are playing bondage games. The latter case would make it far more likely that you care about what the man is wearing and how he wears it, so I am going with that assumption.

When you are into kinky bondage games, then I assume your partner is wearing very flexible latex pants. You just noticed mid-session that he put them on backwards and it really kills your mood. In that case you could put

his whole upper body down through the left leg of the pants. Now the pants dangle are around his right leg with the right leg going through both leg-holes. You can now easily turn the pants inside out by pulling one leg-hole through the other. Reverse the process and you have the pants back were they were, but inverted.

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  • $\begingroup$ And I thought my answer was zany enough in itself! :-) $\endgroup$ – Phylyp Feb 18 '18 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Phylyp ikr im just like whoa ok then $\endgroup$ – NL628 Feb 18 '18 at 19:07

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