At first glance this riddle seems like it should be easy. As Humans, we know plenty of things that can go up and down. But once you think about it for a moment, the answer is not so clear, and Eyezak the Riddle Robot knows that. Let us take a deep dive into some possible answers, and explore why they are not correct. Here are a few things that I think can go up and down:
- a coin I flipped
A common answer for this might be temperature. Yes, it is clear that temperature does go up and down. We have all be hot, meaning the temperature went up, and we have all been cold, meaning the temperature went down. Therefore it meets that criteria. But there is a second criteria it has to meet, does it move?
This is a tricky question on its own, and probably why there are a few riddles out there about temperature. The answer is ‘yes it moves,’ so no it cannot be the answer. Why? Well, in order to know for sure that the temperature has changed (and that is not simply your perception of the temperature), you have to measure it. This is an important distinction because everyone knows when you are sick, things can feel really hot or cold, and not actually be hot or cold.
So we know measurement is a requirement to determine it changed. If you measure it though, you have to have a way to show the value of the temperature number. This requires an instrument of some sort that either shows a reading using a mercury based indicator or displays a number that represents the temperature.
In the case of the mercury indicator, the mercury is physically moving up and down inside a self-contained tube (because mercury is actually an extremely poisonous substance). Therefore it is moving. If you display a number instead, the act of that number changing on the screen or analog dial, is actually movement. Therefore again, this cannot be the answer to this riddle because it is actually moving.
We have all ridden in an elevator before because they are way more convenient than the alternative. You just walk into it, stand inside, hit a button, wait like 20 seconds, and voila you are now 100 ft higher above the ground. Yes obviously, it goes up and down. If it didn’t go up and down, nobody would use it, especially people who live above the 10th floor.
The question is, does it actually move? Yes unfortunately it does. When you are inside it, the elevator physically moves up and down. You may not feel it, but you actually move quite quickly while inside it, between five and 22 miles per hour actually. That is about the speed of your average casual bike-ridder, only you are moving up and down instead of side to side. So, this would not answer the Riddle Robot Eyezak and his riddle. Let’s move on.
Helicopters are extremely cool! You can go up and down in a helicopter, completely vertically. That is actually the appeal of a Helicopter over a Plane. With Planes you need extra space in front of you, so you can gradually climb up in altitude with a low slope. Helicopters allow you to rise in altitude at a very high slope. You require almost no, if any, frontward motion to climb.
Does it move though? Yes it does. When you ride in a Helicopter, it physically transports you from one location to another. In addition the vehicle itself it also moving, not only as a whole, but there are several parts of the copter itself that move independently, like the blades and the rudder. Based on those facts, Eyezak is still winning, because we have not found the answer to this riddle yet. Moving on… how about a coin!
A Coin I Flipped
Sometimes the only fair way to decide an outcome is to leave the result completely to chance. The most common way of doing this, when there are two different options, is to “flip a coin.” To perform this, you take a coin from your pocket, or your piggy bank, hold it on top of your fisted hand, with your thumb positioned directly underneath it. Then you flick your thumb upwards. When done right, the coin will start to rotate head over heels and go vertically up and then down back into your open hand.
This act of flying up and then landing down again is actually considered moving, as the object physically changes location as it moves through the air. You may have decided to “eat out” or “cook” for dinner tonight, but you did not beat Riddle Robot Eyezak yet with this answer, because it does not meet all the criteria of our riddle. We have more more shot at getting it right.
Stairs are those constructs you find in houses and buildings that allow you to walk forward, while rising slowly. Each set of stairs is made of sequentially higher miniature platforms, barely large enough for one foot to land on it, called “steps”. These steps, when strung together in order, allow for a low slope rise from one floor to another floor in a building. It is a well known fact though, that most Humans hate stairs, with a passion, and opt to use alternatives like elevators instead.
When you look at the stairs from either floor, the stairs are always stationary, and they typically contain no moving parts. If you decide to “take the stairs,” while in fact you as a Human do move, the stairs are always still, and unmoving. You are actually moving of your own volition and power. Therefore the stairs themselves are not moving at all. This looks like it is a promising answer to conclude our riddle.
To recap, the stairs to connect two floors in a building in a mostly vertical fashion. Thus we can conclude that they “go up and down.” They also do not physically move themselves, and any entity, be it you or your dog, that uses the stairs are moving under their own power, without any motion-aide from the stairs at all. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that some Stairs actually meet both answer conditions for our riddle. I bet Eyezak our Riddle Robot is going to be mad at us for figuring it out.
Stairs can be called many things including “stairs,” “staircase,” “stair well,” “stairway,” “flight of stairs,” and many, many other names. Their basic function is to make a vertical distance much easier to travel, by simply breaking it into smaller distances that are easy to take with a single footstep, called “steps.” You can find them inside and outside, usually allowing the user to more easily climb between two different elevations.
For safety reasons, many stairs have extra components that prevent the users from hurting themselves, which usually take the form of a guard rail, handrail or decorative banister. These safety mechanisms can be made of functional materials, with very little regard for design, or they can be made of extremely fancy materials and serve no real functional purpose other than aesthetics. Either way, they make a nice addition to the staircase.
They can come in many forms from a simplistic straight shot two landing stairway, simply connecting two elevations with a single stretch of stairs. You will also find “switchback” style stair wells, which combine winders and landings to make consecutive short groupings of steps that allow the user to move in alternating directions while they rise to the top. Then there are spiral case that make the user constant walk in a circle to get to the top.
Stairs have been a commonplace mechanism for changing elevations for a long, long time. There are records that show stairs that predate early civilization as far back as Ancient Egypt. Humans have been making and using stairs since basically the beginning of time and recorded history. They have become such an integrated part of Human existence that you would be hard pressed to find a culture that did not use them. Their origins have nothing to do with this riddle, despite the fact they are the answer.
Hopefully you enjoy learning these new things. The Riddle Robot Eyezak, Puzzle Master, does not really care if you know these things. But the more you learn today, the easier it will be to solve future riddles from him tomorrow!
One Last Thing:
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