Tower Of Hanoi

An Enigma Since The Time of Yore

Human ingenuity is a thing to marvel upon. Every epoch that has been witness to human existence and the relentless progress that this species- being one of the most intelligent and superior in the world- has made, has also ushered in a newer achievement where human cognitive faculties are concerned.

The number of inventions and discoveries that have occurred almost chronologically, go on to show that the human brain is a wondrous machine, capable of thinking up and executing the most amazing concepts in the world. One such puzzle is the Tower of Hanoi.

The Legend of the Tower of Hanoi

We have been getting theories of all kinds that predict the end of the world in their own ways.

The Tower of Hanoi (also known by other popular names like the Tower of Brahma or Lucas tower) is also built around one such theory, or rather, to be more accurate, one such theory appears as background to this mathematical puzzle. This is how the story goes:

There was once a magnificent temple in the holy city of Benares in India. It housed three diamond needles mounted on a plate. There were rings around these needles, each of varying diameters and they were stacked one atop the other, in a conical arrangement. The priests of the temple were assigned the task of transferring the rings from one needle to any of the other two. But they had to follow certain rules.

They could not move more than one ring at a time and they could not place a ring on another that was smaller in girth. There were 64 disks in total. It was believed that when the priests would finish this task, the world would meet its end.

In another version of the story, this puzzle was set by the Emperor of Vietnam, in order to find out the wisest man in the country. It is said that a monk came to the king’s court and solved the puzzle. But the emperor could not reward him as he mysteriously disappeared afterwards.

The enigma of the legend

The story may have many deviations (in some versions, the temple is a monastery and the priests are actually monks) but the central puzzle stays as intriguing as ever. And there is always that nagging query about the world’s impending doom.