I guess a lot of people have seen this riddle which is commonly attributed to Einstein. What is the true source of it and did Einstein have anything to do with it and the claim that only 2% of the people are able to solve it?


The Ultimate Quotable Einstein is written Alice Calaprice, who has edited all 12 volumes of his Collected Papers, and who is Senior Editor and administrator of the Einstein Translation Project.1 And although the book has an entry for the Zebra Puzzle, the attribution reads:

Supposedly, but not actually devised by Einstein as a child.2

  1. http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Calaprice/e/B001IODLOE
  2. Einstein, Albert, and Alice Calaprice. The Ultimate Quotable Einstein. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2011: p. 485.

Clue #13 is:

The German smokes Prince.

According to Wikipedia, Prince cigarettes were introduced in 1957, 2 years after Einstein died.

Therefore, Einstein could not have written the puzzle, as he would not have heard of Prince cigarettes.

  • 2
    The brand is mentioned in the OP's original link. Einstein didn't create that version. QED. – Larry OBrien Nov 8 '13 at 1:55
  • 6
    @LarryOBrien If he wrote it when young, as alleged in Wikipedia, then he probably didn't write it in English either. Assuming therefore that someone translated it for a modern American readership, it's easy to imagine their changing the names of the brands. – ChrisW Nov 8 '13 at 12:09
  • @LarryOBrien, It's very possible for quotes to be written posthumously. E.g. someone died then someone did a biography on him. – Pacerier Jun 13 '15 at 8:29

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