# Lunch time riddle

Collecting us all - quite an achievement

Given that we are infinitely many

Herculean task - some would say twice so

Which is wrongly done for the sake of it.

Nowadays a hobby, or sometimes a job

Even so, lifetime's usually not enough

Yet in some very special conditions

The whole task from scratch takes a few seconds.

Who are we?

Hint (or precision):

The task is to collect us all.

Hint 2:

One of the clues points at a finite number.

Hint 3:

We (humans) all achieve some small fraction of the task each day, but for most of us it's the same fraction as the day before and we don't make progress.

• Wordplay is not a tag in your question. Are sure about collecting something that’s infinitely many? – Ébe Isaac Jan 24 '20 at 13:48
• @ÉbeIsaac I don't really think that wordplay would be appropriate here. This particular sentence may be slightly poetic/metaphorical but nothing too weird. – Arnaud Mortier Jan 24 '20 at 14:07
• I added a hint since so far all answers were missing one important point. – Arnaud Mortier Jan 25 '20 at 11:32
• Hope it isn’t coins – Ébe Isaac Jan 25 '20 at 20:03
• @ÉbeIsaac No it isn't. But you're somewhat starting to see the point of line 4. – Arnaud Mortier Jan 26 '20 at 15:03

Variation on a theme by MacGyver88, with assistance from Arnaud himself and others in comments:

Perhaps you are

MERIDIANS.

Collecting us all - quite an achievement
Given that we are infinitely many


There's a continuous range of longitudes, each corresponding to one meridian.

Herculean task - some would say twice so


We pay particular attention to meridians corresponding to time zones, of which there are 12 or 24 depending on whether you consider two "opposite" ones to be the same or not. Hercules, of course, had 12 labours.

Which is wrongly done for the sake of it.


I confess I don't understand this sentence. (For the sake of what? Is it meant to mean "for its own sake" or something?) [EDITED to add:] OP explains in comments that travel for its own sake is considered environmentally irresponsible, which I guess is fair enough.

Nowadays a hobby, or sometimes a job


Travel is a hobby; air travel, the usual way of "collecting" multiple meridians these days, is also a thing people do professionally: pilots, flight attendants, etc.

Even so, lifetime's usually not enough


Most people never circumnavigate the globe.

Yet in some very special conditions
The whole task from scratch takes a few seconds.


Credit to Keelhaul for pointing out in comments a better way of handling these lines:

If you're near enough one of the poles, then you can visit all longitudes in seconds just by walking in a small circle.

Title:

Latin for the middle of the day is "meridiem", as in "ante meridiem" (a.m.) and "post meridiem" (p.m.), so with a little mispronunciation "meridian" is suggestive of lunchtime. [EDITED to add:] OP explains in comments that in fact "meridian" originally means "pertaining to midday"; a meridian is a line of places where solar noon happens at the same time. So it needn't just be mispronunciation.

• First off, I appreciate the props. Secondly, I think I'm spent on this question. I read it and keep looking at my watch. Thirdly, I have this strong feeling the OP wants us to pay attention to the title. So, it must have something to do with lunch. Otherwise, I'm stuck. – MacGyver88 Jan 28 '20 at 1:35
• Find the correct synonym of your current answer and one of the explanations that you're missing will become obvious. That is, one of line 4, line 8 and the title. When I lived in Ireland I used to hear "for the sake of it" and understand it as "for its own sake". But I'm not a native so I might be wrong. I'll explain more about that point if necessary. – Arnaud Mortier Jan 28 '20 at 6:55
• Also, re #8, I do agree that you're a brilliant person, but you're still a human being, and no ray of light ;) – Arnaud Mortier Jan 28 '20 at 6:56
• rot13(Gb ivfvg nyy ybatvghqrf va n srj frpbaqf, lbh pbhyq urnq sbe n cbyr) – Keelhaul Jan 28 '20 at 9:05
• @Keelhaul Here's #8. – Arnaud Mortier Jan 28 '20 at 9:07

You could be

Moments in time (Time of the Day)

Collecting us all - quite an achievement

Collecting all points of time would be quite the achievement

Given that we are infinitely many

Time will probably go on forever

Herculean task - some would say twice so

12 hours (hint 12 labors of Hercules) or 24 hours (Title - Lunch time is normally considered around 12:00 noon)

Which is wrongly done for the sake of it.

Wall Clocks and Watches usually have 12 hours

Nowadays a hobby, or sometimes a job

Timekeeper, or Clocksmith, Watchmaker, or Watch Collector

Even so, lifetime's usually not enough

Time will continue after we die

Yet in some very special conditions

Looking at a clock or watch

The whole task from scratch takes a few seconds.

Shows all the time already collected for the day

• You're getting much closer (wrt previous answers) in terms of how something infinite can be collected in a finite amount of time. It still doesn't quite fit: the last clue is not more metaphorical than the rest of it. So you would have to be able to live the whole of one day in the span of a few seconds, which is impossible. Also, clue #4 is not to be understood the way you do (I'll perhaps add a hint about that), and you didn't try to explain the title. – Arnaud Mortier Jan 27 '20 at 12:06

You are

Collecting us all - quite an achievement

Yup, it is tough to get all of them! Takes a lot of really good answers.

Given that we are infinitely many

Since badges can be awarded unlimited times, you can have an infinite number

Herculean task - some would say twice so

Hercules performed 12 tasks. There are 18 answer badges, so some might say twice Herculean, but they'd be wrong, it's really just 1.5x Herculean.

Which is wrongly done for the sake of it.

You should participate for the enjoyment of it, not solely the badges

Nowadays a hobby, or sometimes a job

Most of us do this for fun, but some people (Stack Exchange employees) have a job.

Even so, lifetime's usually not enough

Most people will never get all of the badges

Yet in some very special conditions

The whole task from scratch takes a few seconds.

If you have access to the underlying database, you can give yourself all badges in a jiffy!

• Your interpretation of "inifinity" in clue #2 and clue #8 don't match :) but nice try! – Arnaud Mortier Jan 27 '20 at 11:57

I'm not too sure, but I think we are...

Regular expressions

Let's see:

• Collecting us all - quite an achievement

This refers to how people might collect useful regular expressions, and collecting all the useful regular expressions feels like an achievement.

• Given that we are infinitely many

There's infinitely many possible regular expressions

• Herculean task - some would say twice so

I think this refers to the famous Now You Have Two Problems

• Which is wrongly done for the sake of it.

Something along the lines of Code Golf & Coding Challenges

• Nowadays a hobby, or sometimes a job

People use regular expressions in comments to humorously highlight typos. People use regular expressions as part of their job. [I admit this is not strong.]

• Even so, lifetime's usually not enough

??? [No idea.]

• Yet in some very special conditions ... The whole task from scratch takes a few seconds.

I.e., when regular expressions work, they're quick.

• But you can't actually collect them all - let alone in a few seconds... – Arnaud Mortier Jan 25 '20 at 10:15
• Also, the hobby we're after is a real hobby :) – Arnaud Mortier Jan 26 '20 at 19:36

My guess:

Experience

Explanation:

1. Collecting all experiences is quite an achievement
2. Given that experiences are infinitely many
3. experiences are sometime Herculean task. 4. Which is wrongly done for the sake of it. 5. Nowadays a hobby, or sometimes a job - to get experiences 6. Even so, lifetime's usually not enough - thats true for experiences
7. Yet in some very special conditions 8. The whole task from scratch takes a few seconds - if you have enough experiences you can do things in few seconds

• Doesn't quite fit I'm afraid. Your reading of the last line isn't quite what is intended. – Arnaud Mortier Jan 24 '20 at 13:21
• this was my first try. I guess my efforts are appreciable. :) – Rajendra Jan 24 '20 at 13:41
• Well, sure. But it doesn't explain the title, line 3, line 4, or the last line. – Arnaud Mortier Jan 24 '20 at 14:05

Kind of close to another answer:

Memories (human)

Collecting us all - quite an achievement Given that we are infinitely many

You can't really just recall the entirety of your lifetime at any given moment.

Herculean task - some would say twice so

Maybe has to do something about Hercules remembering he had sinned and thus started his tasks. Twice as hard for people with related diseases.

Which is wrongly done for the sake of it.

Maybe too frequent nostalgia is a bad thing as it cuts you off from the world.

Nowadays a hobby, or sometimes a job

Hobby can be for everyone, job could be photographer/autobiographer and such.

Even so, lifetime's usually not enough

You'll still momentarily forget things

Yet in some very special conditions The whole task from scratch takes a few seconds.

They say if you (believe you) are going to die, life passes in front of your eyes like a movie.

(Don't really think this hits it, hopefully we'll get another half-clue from OP)

• Nice try, but a bit too stretchy. For the last hint, it's solid, not just something they say. – Arnaud Mortier Jan 27 '20 at 22:37

You might be

stars.

Collecting us all - quite an achievement


Finding all the astronomical objects is very difficult (or impossible?), but stars are also often used as ratings for hotels, movies, in video games etc. Collecting the maximum number is quite an achievement.

Given that we are infinitely many


By doing a quick search, I found that the number of stars (i.e. astronomical objects) in our universe is probably greater than 10²¹. Maybe not infinite, but astounding nevertheless.

Herculean task - some would say twice so


Something with two times 12. While I'm also inclined to think that this is about the hours in the day, another reading could be the 12 tropical zodiacs plus the 12 Chinese ones, or the 12 tropical ones plus the 12 "houses" which have some significance for horoscopes, because...

Which is wrongly done for the sake of it.


... these horoscopes play a major role in astrology, a pseudoscience concerned with divination by reading the position of celestial objects at specific times (hence "wrongly done").

Nowadays a hobby, or sometimes a job


Still relating to astrology/horoscopes, some people like to read their horoscope in magazines, a few others work as fortune tellers.

Even so, lifetime's usually not enough


I read that as related to astronomy again - as mentioned above, finding all stars (celestial objects) is at least nigh impossible, and certainly "lifetime's usually not enough".

Yet in some very special conditions


Maybe the big bang?

The whole task from scratch takes a few seconds.


If you could observe the big bang, you might see all matter (and thus all stars) from scratch during a few seconds. I have to admit, especially the last two are quite a stretch.

Considering hint 3:

We see at least one star everyday: our sun. Most people can also see a certain set of stars in the night sky, but to "collect all" they'd have to go to different places/hemispheres.

• What we're after is in infinite number, and is actually possible for a human being to "collect" in a very short amount of time, even though most people will never actually do it. – Arnaud Mortier Jan 28 '20 at 10:15