Cultural Influence Essay

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies is an exceptional novel which has had several different influencing factors on current culture. The novel forces the reader to take a closer look into the human culture, where all social boundaries and rules have been removed. What story does this novel have to tell, and how has it affected modern culture?

Lord of the Flies was published in 1954 (William Golding Limited, 2002). Since its publication it has had several major influences on current culture. Not only has Lord of the Flies become a standard in education, but it has also inspired two films, and has been translated into many different languages (Lambert, 1993).

William Golding

Golding won the Nobel Prize award for his literature in 1983, after his first novel, Lord of the Flies, was published, in 1954. The book that was originally rejected 21 times, ended up inspiring two films, and was translated into 26 different languages. Lord of the Flies not only sold millions of copies, but it also became a standard in both high school, and college, English classes. Lord of the Flies was said to have become a world classic in English literature (Lambert, 1993).

William Golding never considered his book, Lord of the Flies, to be of much importance. In fact, 15 years after the book had been published, he stated to one of his friends, that he resented writing the novel. Golding felt that his entire reputation was based off of the success of Lord of the Flies, which he considered to be a very minor book. Even though the book was considered to be a classic in English literature, Golding considered the book to be nothing more than “a joke” (Boyd, 2010).

Golding also stated that the profits he had earned from the novel was “Monopoly money” (Boyd, 2010) as he didn’t feel like he actually earned the money. Sales of the Lord of the Flies had reached over seven million dollars in the United States, by 1980 (Boyd, 2010).

It’s stated that Golding is a perfect example that you don’t need to be young in order to make a name for yourself. After Lord of the Flies was published, Golding became very successful, and popular. That success never dwindled. Several more books were immediately published following the success of Lord of the Flies. Even though none of these books ever matched the sales of Lord of the Flies (Boyd, 2010), Golding was still set for life as the sales of Lord of the Flies were “rock-solid” (Boyd, 2010) and never seemed to end (Boyd, 2010).


The influences that Lord of the Flies has made within literature, movies, and even a TV series, is overwhelming. The novel has become so revered, that one might consider it to be one of the most well-known novels in history. Several Web sites have been designed in honor, and support, of Lord of the Flies, as well as the primary motion picture. These Web sites contain information about the author, different editions of the book, and the motion picture productions.

Literature Influences

Thus far, Lord of the Flies has inspired a book be written about William Golding, which tells a secretive story about his life. This book was written based off of new materials, most of which have never been made public knowledge prior to the book’s printing. The book was assembled using many hundreds of letters, as well as unpublished works, and Golding’s own personal journals. The book is designed to draw a portrait of the man who wrote Lord of the Flies (William Golding Inc., 2012). The book not only describes Golding as a war-hero, but also as a reclusive-depressive-alcoholic, who has many fears and phobias (William Golding Inc., 2012).

A special edition of Lord of the Flies was printed in 1962. This novel placed both Golding, and Lord of the Flies, deep into the history of world literature (William Golding Inc., 2012). The book covers the influences on Golding’s imaginative style of writing, as well as his friends, and other books, and poems, he has read (William Golding Inc., 2012).

Educational Influences

Lord of the Flies not only sold millions of copies, but it was translated into 26 different languages, and became a standard in schools. Lord of the Flies appears on the reading lists of both high schools and colleges (Lambert, 1993). Many students have had experience with the novel by the time they have graduated high school. It’s not easy to find someone who hasn’t at least heard of Lord of the Flies.

Motion Picture Influences

A black and white film of Lord of the Flies was produced in 1961, by Peter Brook. The film has received a lot of praise over the years. Some critics believe that the film is better, because it was shot in black and white. They feel that the black and white images add some depth, and weight, to the “chilling story” (Lord of the Flies Company, 1963). The full-length movie that was released in 1963 can be viewed for free, via the Internet. The 1963 motion picture version of the Lord of the Flies is said to be better than the book itself (Lord of the Flies Company, 1963). Rarely does it happen that readers of a book consider the movie to be better. This goes to show the dedication put into the production of the motion picture.

The motion picture then spawned the creation of a Web site organization that is dedicated to honoring the actors, and other crew members, that were involved in the production of the Lord of the Flies film. The Web site contains many biographies, and obituaries, of the people involved in the production. The Web site also contains information about children that committed suicide after being teased, and tormented, during their lifetime. These are great examples of what can happen to a child treated in the manner that Piggy was treated during the Lord of the Flies. It would seem that Lord of the Flies has had a strong impact on the way people view the activities, and social behavior, of other humans.

The Lord of the Flies is also said to have had some influence on the hit television series Lost. It’s stated, that while the television series is not a copy, of the Lord of the Flies, by any means, it still couldn’t have existed without the influences of the novel (Willard, 2007).


Lord of the Flies is a perfect example of how a novel can have major influences on social culture. A simple story starts with the author’s imagination, even if it’s nothing more than a joke to the author who wrote it. Golding had a story to tell, and that story turned out to be one of the most honored novels in literary history. The novel has spread all across the globe and has inspired many to take a better look at our civilization, and, at our children.

References – Cultural Influence Essay

Cultural Context Essay

History of the Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies, a brilliant novel of a group of schoolboys marooned on an uninhabited island after an attempt to escape wartime events, via an airplane evacuation. Soon after their plane crashes on the island the boys are driven to segregate their selves into two groups. The first group, which is led by Ralph, uses a sensible and democratic approach, and the second group, led by Jack, with a brutal military-style dictatorship (Faber and Faber, Lord of the Flies, 2011).

Written by Sir William Golding, Lord of the Flies was his “realist answer” (Faber and Faber, Lord of the Flies, 2011) to 1857’s novel The Coral Island1, a book describing the successful experiences of a group of boys, Jack, Ralph, and Peterkin, which were stranded on a deserted island. Lord of the Flies is a novel designed to show the distinction between a democratic and rational setting (Ralph’s group) and the anarchy and dictatorship views of Jack and his choir. This book provides a simple, yet realistic view, of social culture where rules and boundaries are removed (Faber and Faber, Lord of the Flies, 2011).

History of the Lord of the Flies

During Golding’s lifetime, he published a total of 12 novels, along with many different types of plays. He also wrote many reviews, and essays, as well as short stories. Golding’s first novel titled, Lord of the Flies, was published in 1954, when he was only 23 years old. Golding lived through, what is considered to be “the most terrible and inhumane of centuries” (William Golding’s Life). Much of his work is said to have provided the readers with a better understanding of the horror that took place during his lifetime (William Golding’s Life).

Golding had many personal and social issues that were not necessarily made public until recently. A new book titled William Golding2, was published in 2009. This book dives into Golding’s personal life with great detail. The author was given access to hundreds of letters, and other unpublished works of art, such as Golding’s personal journals. The book labels Golding, not only as a war-hero, but also as a reclusive-depressive-alcoholic, who was riddled with phobias, and even considered himself to be a “monster” (Faber and Faber, William Golding). However, above all, he was also a nurturing family man, and someone who trusted his imagination, above all other things (Faber and Faber, William Golding).

Brief Biographical Background

Sir William Golding was born in Cornwell, on September 19th, 1911. Golding was brought up to be a man of science. In 1930, he attended Brasenose College in Oxford to study Natural Sciences. However, a few years later in 1932, he decided to change his major, and focus of study to English Literature (Faber and Faber, A Chronological Account).

In September 1940, Golding’s first child, a son, named David, was born. Sooner after the arrival of his son, Golding enlisted into the Royal Navy. In December of 1940, he left to join the Royal Navy, and start his training. In 1941, he started his first active service. He was stationed in the Northern Atlantic. Then, in 1942, he joined a weapons research unit which was located in Buckinghamshire. Later, in 1943, he requested to be returned to sea, and shortly after, was sent to New York, where he was ordered to help bring minesweepers that were being built in New Jersey, back to the United Kingdom. While in command of Landing Crafts, which were equipped with rocket guns, he took part in the Royal Navy’s support of the D-Day landings, and also the invasion of Walcheren (Faber and Faber, A Chronological Account).

Golding’s second child, Judith, was born in 1945. Golding only had two children. Soon after his daughter was born in September of 1945, he decided to leave the Royal Navy. Upon departing, he returned to a previous teaching position, which he held at Bishop Wordsworth’s School. Six years after moving to Salisbury, in 1946, Golding began work on his first novel entitled Strangers from Within. He submitted his novel for publishing in January of 1953. It was, however, repeatedly rejected, by publisher after publisher, until September 1954. By that time many changes were made to the novel, and it was renamed to Lord of the Flies, before printing (Faber and Faber, A Chronological Account).

Golding continued publishing many more novels over the next eight years. Then, in 1962, he decided to retire from his teaching position, and became a full-time writer. In 1968, he suffered a setback, when he began to find it difficult to write. Nevertheless, he published several more works between 1968, and 1993. In January of 1993, he began work on a new novel; however, in the very early morning of June 19th, at 82 years old, he died from a massive heart failure. He was buried about a week later in the churchyard at Bowerchalke. His wife, Ann, followed shortly after him, passing away in 1995. That same year his final novel entitled, The Double Tongue3, was published (Faber and Faber, A Chronological Account).

Golding’s Intentions

Golding was a war-time hero, having done his civic duty serving in the Royal Navy. He was involved in battles against battleships, submarines, and aircraft. He was on active duty, and present, during the sinking of the Bismarck. When Golding finished his tour in the Royal Navy, he held the rank of Lieutenant in command of a rocket ship (Faber and Faber, Cover Competition, 2012). It’s clear by his history, that he was a man who witnessed, firsthand, the horrors of war, and that he reflected his opinions of this behavior in his first novel, Lord of the Flies.

In an interview with Golding’s daughter, Judy, also an author, she stated that Golding’s book, Lord of the Flies, by his own admission, arose from his experiences in the 2nd world war. She also stated that Golding was a school master, of a boy’s school, and he described the boys in his book exactly as they were in real life (Golding J.). He really seemed to have a solid understanding of boys, and how they operated. She went on to state that she believed there was a very strong link between her father being a school master, in an all-boys school, and him having based the book around boys. However, she claims that it would be a mistake to base Lord of the Flies as coming from her father’s experiences in schools (Golding J.).

There’s a lot of disinformation, and confusion, about the exact meaning of Golding’s book, and his intentions for the novel. However, it’s clear that his intentions were based off of his wartime experiences, and that, on at least one occasion, he had discussed this with family members. Faber and Faber, a publisher of Lord of the Flies, claims that Golding’s intentions for this book were to provide a more realistic view of 1857’s, The Coral Island. A novel which has a happy, and successful ending, after three boys are trapped on an uninhabited island. Golding wanted to provide a realist view on what might really happen, given those same circumstances, when all rules and boundaries are removed (Faber and Faber, Lord of the Flies, 2011).

Trends in Larger Society

Today, Lord of the Flies is taught as required reading material in many schools, including high school, and college English classes. It’s not uncommon for a child graduating from high school to have encountered the book, at some point, during their enrollment.

In early 2010, some teachers were asked to list their favorite, and least favorite books, to teach in English classes. Lord of the Flies made the very short list of books that teachers did not want to teach. It has also been labeled as one of the student’s least favorite books to read (Ojalvo & Doyne, 2010). When the general public was asked for their opinions on Lord of the Flies being taught in schools, most replied, stating that they thought it should, in fact, be taught in school. This stems mainly from its realistic views on human society. However, some felt that it should only be taught to high school juniors and seniors (Should Lord of the Flies be taught in schools?). Students of those ages would (probably) be more likely to comprehend the context of the book, and also be mature enough to manage the horrific scenes. It might also be possible that these teenagers could relate to this story, by looking at their own lives, and what happens around them, in their current school.

In conclusion, Lord of the Flies is a wonderful book, and extremely realistic, and graphic, in its context and details. It brings with it a very solid, and easy-to-comprehend message from Golding. Humans can be a very savage species, and when all social and culture boundaries are removed, our true selves are revealed, even in our children.


1The Coral Island (1857), by R. M. Ballantyne.

2William Golding (2009) by John Carey.

3The Double Tongue (1995) by William Golding.

References – Cultural Context Essay

Cities for the People


Today’s cities are designed for vehicles, not for people. Modern cities have an overwhelming presence of cars, and parking lots, and contain very few parks. Some cities don’t even have adequate sidewalks, or bike lanes, and lack the basics of public transportation. Modern cities are also a lot larger and have more people than they’ve ever had in the past. More than half of all people live in cities, some of which are living in megacities, with over 10 million residents. Many of these cities contain air that isn’t safe to breathe. Living in these overpopulated areas can pose serious health risks, and the constant congestion of streets cause frustration levels to skyrocket (Brown, 2009).

Cities and Global Warming

Does the current design of our cities contribute to excess CO2, and global warming? The simple answer is, yes, albeit indirectly. Cities are designed for vehicles, not for people. They are inlaid with concrete highways, ramps, bridges, and lanes, making it impractical to get around using any other means of transportation. They are congested with vehicles, and, in megacities, bumper-to-bumper traffic, raising stress levels of people living, or commuting, within their borders. The constant flow of traffic and congestion causes havoc on the environment by releasing massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, helping to increase the rate in which global warming progresses. The null hypothesis is that: If cities were designed for people, instead of cars, then there would be a decline (or at least stabilization) in the current global warming rate.

Current internal combustion engines (ICE) are one of the leading causes of pollution. Some companies, such as Toyota, and Honda, are industry leaders in creating safer, and more fuel-efficient vehicles (Laszlo, 2008). Over the next 20 years, an additional 600 million vehicles are projected to enter the market, bringing the total number of vehicles to an estimated 1.5 billion. These vehicles not only release excess CO2 into the atmosphere, but they also contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, and smog, which can result in health conditions such as asthma (Laszlo, 2008).

Current vehicles also cause a lot of solid waste, and water contamination, which is generated during the manufacturing process of steel, batteries, paints, plastics, and lubricants. Toyota is a leader, in not only creating more fuel-efficient cars, but also in the percentage of junk automobile parts that can be recycled (Laszlo, 2008).

Cities for the People

The first thing that needs to be done to combat global warming is to design, or redesign, cities for the people, and reduce the number of vehicles used in everyday operations. More parks and sidewalks should be created to help expedite pedestrian traffic. However, the creation of sidewalks isn’t always a straightforward solution, as many cities still struggle to provide adequate sidewalks, mainly because of budget limitations (Sustainable Cities Institute).

The second thing that needs to be implemented, is a focus on moving away from non-renewable fossil fuels that are used in vehicles. It’s estimated that there is only about two billion barrels of oil on the planet, of which, over one billion barrels have already been used (Brown, 2009). Not only do fossil fuels contribute to global warming, but they are also quickly disappearing. The reduction of fossil fuel use will help stabilize the pace of global warming, as the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere is reduced.

Public transportation methods such as busses and trains should be more abundant. This will help reduce the congestion of vehicles in cities, and, therefore, will help reduce the amount of CO2 given off by the abundance of passenger vehicles currently in use. Passenger vehicle usage could be limited to long trips or transporting heavy loads. In New York City, a MetroCard can be purchased for unlimited rides during a 30-day period, for only $104 (MTA). Public transportation, such as busses, and trains, will also help reduce the amount of congestion on the streets. Trains can even be built underground to further reduce street-level congestion.

The next thing that can be done is the development of additional bike lanes, and trails, throughout the cities, to encourage bike usage, and make it safer for bikers to travel alongside motor vehicles. Riding bicycles, or walking, opposed to driving, gives people the chance to meet in person, and strike up a conversation during their commute, as well as reducing the risks for many serious health issues (“It’s easy being green” 2008). Some colleges in Wisconsin have even implemented a program which provides bicycles, helmets, and locks, to freshmen students who agree to leave their vehicles at home. These bikes are free to keep, and help encourage students to be healthier, by riding bikes, and, also, to push students to “go green” (“Ripon college gives,” 2008). Many cities, such as Des Moines, in Iowa, have also implemented bike rental programs. They allow patrons and their children to rent bicycles for various periods of times, and also to explore the city while using these bikes. Benefits are gained for both the city, and patrons using this program (“Gray’s lake park,” 2009).

Some city governments have started attacking the problem by charging a pollution tax on vehicles that enter the city during the day. In Britain, motorists are charged a pollution tax of £25 per day, to enter the city centers. Small vehicles, as well as electric or hybrid vehicles will be omitted from paying this tax. These new laws are forcing people to “pay” for their environmental damage (Chapman, 2007).

Cities should also take advantage of unused space, or replace abandoned buildings with trees, or plants, that can help improve the air quality, as well as many other social aspects of the city. More recreational areas could be created for children, and community gardens can be developed, to help encourage community involvement in regard to the protection of the environment, and to reduce frustration levels, as well as increase social activity between city residents.

More high-rise buildings could be developed to help reduce the amount of real estate taken up by non-naturalistic structures and increase that for which these parks and community gardens could be built. The rooftops of these high-rise buildings would be great places to add additional gardens, or plants, which could further help reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (Brown, 2009).

Lastly, city police departments could implement more programs to have police officers use bicycles during their patrols, instead of squad cars. This will not only help ensure the health, and athletic ability of the police officers, but could also create a better relationship between the officers, and the local residents, as there will be more opportunity to socialize with the officers as they make their patrols. Studies have also shown that police officers on bikes, are more productive than those in squad cars. On average, they are able to arrive on scene faster and more quietly than officers in squad cars, and they make 50% more arrests per day (Brown, 2009).

Stabilizes Global Warming

Taking the steps above will help reduce the number of vehicles on the streets, and encourage other methods of transportation, whether it’s in the form of public transportation, walking, or riding bicycles, it will help stabilize global warming. As the number of vehicles on the street is reduced, there will be a reduction in the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. This reduction in vehicles will help stabilize global warming in two ways: The manufacturing of these vehicles would be reduced, as the demand goes down, which would reduce the amount of pollution created during the manufacturing process, and there would be a reduction of CO2 released during the operation of these vehicles.

Eliminating, or reducing, the number of vehicles used, will reduce the amount of heat in the atmosphere, through the prevention of the Positive Feedback Loop. The Positive Feedback Loop is a “catch 22” effect, that happens when CO2 is released into the atmosphere. The Earth needs to release excess heat back into space to help cool the planet. However, when CO2 enters the atmosphere, it traps this excess heat inside. Since the planet is unable to release this heat back into space properly, the temperature of the planet will start to rise. This increase in temperature will cause glaciers to start to melt (Brown, 2009).

The loss of glaciers can be devastating to the planet, in several ways. As additional heat from the sun enters the planet’s atmosphere; excess heat, (about 70%) is reflected back into space, helping to cool the planet. However, if the atmosphere is loaded with CO2 this excess heat will become trapped, instead of being released back into space. As the planet’s temperature starts to rise from the excess heat, the glaciers will start to melt faster. As the glaciers continue to melt, at an alarming rate, more dark, open water is exposed. This dark, open water only reflects about 6% of the heat from the sun, back into space. The rest of the heat is absorbed by the water, heating the water, and, in turn, further increasing the rate in which the glaciers will melt (Brown, 2009).

This endless process will continue as long as there is an excess amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, preventing the planet from cooling properly. The design, or redesign, of cities to support other methods of transportation, therefore reducing the number of vehicles required to navigate the city, will help reduce this excess amount of CO2, and, therefore, help stabilize the rate at which the planet is warming.

The planting of trees, gardens, and more naturalistic landscapes, throughout the city will also help further reduce the amount of CO2 contained within the atmosphere. Trees of all shapes and sizes help absorb CO2; however, younger, fast-growing trees, seem to be the favorite, as they tend to absorb more CO2 than older trees. The exact type of tree to be planted will depend on the area in which the tree is located. Some tree species may perform better, in specific areas (C).

The Economics

While all of the solutions talked about throughout this essay are great alternatives, some of them are not realistically viable. The fact is, that rebuilding cities actually costs a lot more than building them correctly in the first place, and, while these might be great solutions, they do, however, cost a considerable amount of money to implement (Brown, 2009). While implementing more public transportation such as busses (or trains), might seem like a wise idea, buses are incredibly expensive. The exact cost of the busses will vary, depending on the required features. Some may have LED signs on the front, or back, that help patrons know what route the bus is taking; some may have front, and back entrances, and, others, may be handicap accessible, or have racks on the front of the bus to store patrons’ bicycles.

Diesel busses can typically cost anywhere from $300,000, to $600,000, brand new, depending on what features are installed on the bus. Natural gas busses can also be purchased, but they generally cost about $30,000 more than a diesel bus. There are also hybrid busses being released onto the market, but they can cost as much as $714,000, per bus (MacKechnie). Other costs will also have to be taken into consideration, such as developing routes for the busses to follow, panting curbs, or lanes, for busses to follow, installing bus stop signage around the city, and paying employees to drive the busses. With a rough estimate, it’s clear that adding additional busses, won’t bring any short-term profits for the city.

The costs to build and operate public trains can cost several million dollars per mile, and in some areas, it may cost as much as $2.1 billion dollars per mile (MacKechnie). Also, take into consideration the costs of operating the trains. Some trains require at least two employees to drive the train (MacKechnie). There would probably be additional need for employees to coordinate, and schedule all of the train routes, and monitor the trains as they operate to ensure that there are no accidents.

The development of trains, and busses, while being an excellent idea, is probably not viable for many of today’s cities. Not only are the costs to purchase, and develop, the new services, outrageously high, but there are also the costs of operating the services over longer periods of time, and, as with any other type of machine, the busses and trains will probably require regular maintenance in order to keep them functioning properly and safely.

Adding additional public sidewalks is, generally, a more viable solution, as the costs are dramatically less, than the development of public transportation systems. Some cities, like New York, have laws in place that require property owners to take care of, and repair, out of their own pockets, any public sidewalks adjacent to their property, or houses (DOT). The cost of a concrete sidewalk may vary greatly, but an average cost of about $23-$27 per square foot (with proper sealant applied) can be expected (Leone, 2012). While these costs might add up to a few hundred dollars per resident to replace or repair the sidewalks adjacent to their property, the cost for the city to create new sidewalks would probably be much higher. This would depend on whether the city decides to foot the bill for new sidewalks or if that bill would be broken down and divided up between the residents living where the new sidewalks were placed.

While the installation of additional sidewalks is considerably less than that of the public transportation solutions, some small cities still might find their selves unable to endure the additional costs, especially, in areas that are not heavily populated. The city of New York focuses most of its work in areas that have one-, two-, or three-family homes (DOT). The installation of these new sidewalks does prove to be a viable solution, but not across the board. Some larger cities might easily be able to endure these additional costs, while some smaller cities are left behind.

The costs of planting new trees and adding a more natural landscaping to cities isn’t something that can be easily estimated. These costs are going to vary depending on the number of trees that need to be planted, and the type of trees purchased. While some trees might survive well in one area, they may not do so well in another area (C). As an example, a Red Oak tree might cost as much as $275-$895, to purchase, depending on the size, height, and width of the tree, among other factors. However, this price also includes the cost of delivery, and planting of the tree, and an 18-month guarantee (“Tree land nursery,”). The exact costs and guarantees are, again, going to vary greatly.

The option to plant new trees is a small step but is probably viable to most cities. If more residents donate money, or help plant these trees, it may take some of the stress off of the city’s budget. Residents owning property within the city limits may also choose to purchase and plant trees, on their own accord (within their property).

By now, it should be clear that designing, or redesigning cities, can have an impact on the amount of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere, and will, therefore, at the very least, stabilize the global warming rate. However, not all of these options are viable solutions at the current time, because they are limited to the economies of each individual city, and in some cases, the residents living within the city. It’s important that, in time, these options be implemented; however, it will probably have to be done at a rather slow pace, starting with smaller, more viable options, such as planting more trees, or creating more sidewalks.

Vehicle manufacturers also need to continue to improve the vehicles that they design, improving the gas mileage, and reducing the amount of pollution created during the manufacturing process in order to help accelerate these efforts. While it’s (probably) not possible to redesign all of the cities in any reasonable amount of time, a little effort put forth by cities, residents, and vehicle manufactures, can certainly add up, and help achieve a higher goal.

References – Cities for the People

Economic Analysis of Sustainability


Oil is the world’s leading source of energy. In 1900, the world produced 150 million barrels of oil, a number that jumped dramatically to 28 billion barrels by the year 2000. In the twentieth century, oil was readily available, and therefore very cheap. This expanding supply of cheap oil caused an explosion in the growth of food production, population, urbanization, and human mobility (Brown, 2009). Today, we live in an oil-based civilization, and are completely reliant on an energy source that will not be around forever. There is an estimated 2 billion barrels of oil on the planet, of which, 1 billion barrels have already been used (Brown, 2009). Aside from the dramatically decreasing oil quantities, the burning of oil also contributes to global warming. According to Brown, 2009, the burning of oil contributes to 38% of all carbon emissions; succeeded only by coal, which is currently responsible for 43% of all carbon emissions.

Economic Analysis of Sustainability

The Earth’s temperature has been increasing over recent years. 25 of the world’s warmest years since records have been kept have happened since 1980 (Brown, 2009). This warming happens because of greenhouse gasses, like carbon, which trap heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon is currently responsible for 63% of the global warming trend (Brown, 2009). One of the main causes of carbon emissions comes from transportation. In 2010, there was an estimated 250.2 million registered passenger cars on the road, in the United States alone (RITA, 2012). In 2011, the number of vehicles worldwide surpassed 1 billion (Tencer, 2011), with the United States being the worst culprit. Even though the number of vehicles in China has been dramatically increasing, they would need to increase their vehicle numbers another 16-fold, just to meet the number of vehicles currently on U.S. roads (Tencer, 2011).

The release of carbon from vehicles contributes to the effects of global warming. The carbon prevents the Earth from cooling down, by trapping heat inside the atmosphere. When sunlight hits glaciers, about 70% of that heat is directed back into space, but because of the carbon build up, this heat can be trapped in the atmosphere, which causes the glaciers to melt even faster. As the glaciers start to melt, more open ocean is exposed. Only about 6% of light that hits the dark-colored, open ocean, is reflected back into space, leaving the rest of the heat from the light to be absorbed by the ocean, heating the water. As the ocean waters warm, they also contribute to the melting of the glaciers. This creates what scientists call a Positive Feedback Loop. In order to make any progress in the fight against global warming, we need to find ways to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere.

Some vehicle manufactures have tried to combat this problem by generating more fuel-efficient vehicles, while others have continued to manufacture large gas-guzzling SUVs. Other companies such as Think, have succeeded in building vehicles that can be powered by electricity. Electricity can be generated from many different sources, some of which are far cleaner than burning fossil fuels. One example of this is wind farms. Wind farms are groups of wind turbines that can be placed in fields, or even directly in the ocean [Offshore Wind Farms]. They can use the energy created from wind, to generate electricity (US Department of Energy, 2011).


Some companies might question the rationale behind upgrading their fleet of vehicles to newer, electric vehicles. You would have the cost of purchasing the vehicle, and then you would need to pay for the electricity that the vehicle uses. To demonstrate this, a factious company, called Semplici, can be used. Semplici is a locally owned Italian pizza company. Their owner has been becoming more concerned with current environmental issues and has been contemplating what his business can do to help combat the growing problems, such as global warming. He has been considering going with an electric vehicle. Currently his delivery employees are using their personal vehicles to make deliveries. He’s concerned that while attempting to help the environment, he may bring down his own business, with the added costs of purchasing company owned vehicles. Also, he’s noticed that the electric vehicles cost a good deal more than a standard gas-powered vehicle, which he could purchase for around $18,000 (Ford). A new electric vehicle, such as the Think, starts at $22,000 after about $10,000 in government incentives. Currently, not all states offer government incentives to purchase electric vehicles.

Semplici currently pays their delivery drivers a starting wage of $9.00 an hour. The drivers also receive a 0.75¢ reimbursement for each delivery made. This reimbursement helps combat the wear and tear on their vehicles, as well as any gas used during the delivery. On average, Semplici delivers two pizzas per hour, during a 12-hour workday. They are open seven days a week. This works out to be about $18.00 per day, which is spent in delivery driver reimbursements, or about $540.00 per month (Gregster, 2008). With an average delivery distance of about 4.5 miles; over a period of one month, this would use 162 gallons of gas, on a vehicle that receives 20 MPG-or a total of $539.46, based off of an average of $3.33 per gallon. For example, a Ford Taurus with an estimated 18 MPG city, and 25 MPG highway, will drive an average of 39,420 miles delivering pizzas over a period of one year. This would produce a footprint of 36,990 pounds of CO2 per year, or an average of 1,905 gallons of fuel per year.

After doing some research, Semplici’s owner determines that he can purchase a new electric vehicle from Think, for a total of $22,990 after a federal incentive of $7,500.00, and a tax credit of $2,500.00. The monthly payment on the vehicle would be around $420.03 per month. The Think uses the same amount of power as a 60-watt light bulb. 1 kilowatt-hour produces a carbon footprint of 1.6 pounds per hour. 0.06 Kilowatts an hour gives an average of 0.096 pounds of CO2 per hour, or 2.304 pounds of CO2 per day, giving a total of 840.96 pounds of CO2 per year, which is a reduction of 36,149.04 pounds of CO2 per year, over the Ford Taurus.

It will cost an average of $2.00 to $4.00 to charge the electric vehicle per day, increasing his electric bill by a maximum of $120.00 per month (plug in america, 2012). The total cost of owning the car, including payments and electricity usage would be about $540.03 per month. This is only a 0.03¢ increase over the $540.00 that he already pays his delivery drivers in reimbursements.

With this information, he realizes that this new investment isn’t going to cost him any more money than he is currently spending, but it’s not going to bring in any additional short-term savings either. Doing a little more research, he learns that he could pay off his new investment in about 4.5 to 5 years. Using information from the Department of Motor Vehicles Web site, he also learns that the average age of vehicles in the United States is about 10.8 years. If he could manage to pay off his new electric vehicle in the allotted 4.5 years, he could probably get an additional 6.3 years of service out of the vehicle, during which time, no payments would need to be made. At which point he would only need to pay the additional $120.00 of electric usage per month, saving him a total of $420.03 per month, over what he is currently paying drivers in reimbursements.

Over the next 6.3 years, he would save a total of $31,754.27 in reimbursement fees. This would not only completely reimburse him for the investment he made, but also bring in an additional $8,764.27, in long-term savings, that he could use to reinvest in another electric car. Although his electric bill would be considerably higher, he would also completely remove the need to purchase fuel for his delivery vehicles. He realizes that, not only could he gain some long-term savings by switching to an electric vehicle, but he could also make a huge profit by doing so. He also gets the idea of placing “Eco-Friendly Delivery” stickers on his new vehicles, which might help him snag some of the customers from competing pizza restaurants. If this happens, it’s possible he could use the extra income to pay off his new electric vehicle even faster, allowing him to make even more money in the long-term. It’s also possible that his “me-too” competitors will also try to follow suit, purchasing their own electric delivery vehicles, further reducing the amount of damage to the environment.

Costs and Savings

As with most rental car companies, he has decided that the delivery employees will need to provide their own driver’s license, and proof of insurance, before they will be allowed to drive one of the company vehicles. The employees will also have the option of purchasing insurance from Semplici, if they do not currently have their own. This cost will be deducted from their biweekly paychecks. As long as the vehicles remain on Semplici’s property, they will be covered under the existing commercial insurance, therefore, there won’t be any additional insurance costs for using company owned vehicles.

The Think comes with a 3 year, or 36,000-mile warranty, for the battery, and drive train. Think City makes the claim that the battery life is 10 years, or 100,000 miles. The overall maintenance on the Think will be minimal, as the electric motor has very few moving parts (Think City, 2012).

The initial down payment for the new electric vehicle will require $2,000, which will increase the expenses during the first year. After the first year, the total payments for the electric car will be slightly lower than the current expenses from employee reimbursement. During the fifth year, an additional $600 would be required to purchase new tires for the electric vehicle, however, at this point, only 6 months of payments will be left on the vehicle, so the total expenses will be further decreased. Moving forward from the sixth year, the savings will be dramatically increased. The ten-year cost of operating with employee vehicles will cost about $64,799 compared with the $40,313 it would cost to operate for ten years using the new company-owned electric vehicle; bringing in a total savings of $24,486 over a ten-year period.

Long- and short-term savings.

In conclusion, we can see that although Semplici’s isn’t going to see any short-term profits for making this change, they will start to notice significant profits over the long-term. They also have the opportunity to bring in more business, and help the environment, by providing a more environmentally friendly operation.

Global warming has been an issue for many years, and is becoming increasingly important, as glaciers are disappearing at record speed, and the Earth starts to suffer other environmental changes. The weather has been changing dramatically, storms have been more violent, the summers (and even the winters) have been considerably hotter. In January 2012, the state of Wisconsin saw temperatures in the range of 80° F, and, in December 2011, temperatures rose to 60° F, or more. Some parts of southern Wisconsin didn’t even see snow fall. During June and July 2012, southern Wisconsin experienced several days over 100°+ F, some days reaching 111° F. It’s hard not to trace all of these changes back to global warming.

The use of electric vehicles, instead of gasoline powered vehicles, can decrease carbon emissions, and, probably, help slow down the speed at which the Earth is warming. Semplici’s is just a starting point, if more companies are willing to make such an environmental change, we can make a huge impact in the amount of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere. More individuals also need to step up, and start making a change for the better, by buying more environmentally friendly vehicles.

However, before any of this can happen on a large scale, several changes will need to be made. First and foremost, more states need to start providing incentives for purchasing electric vehicles. Currently, only a few states offer incentives, and tax credits for buying the Think electric vehicle. Secondly, the price of electric vehicles needs to come down considerably, not only to match the current price level of gas-powered vehicles, but also to beat those prices. Today, many people are still driving older, and/or improperly functioning vehicles, which don’t receive the same gas mileage as newer vehicles, because they are economically unable to purchase newer vehicles. Even current gas-powered vehicles fall far outside of the price range for a lot of people.

If we want to see more people adopting this newer technology, the price will have to come down to a point where it’s economically feasible for someone to purchase them. These price changes should ultimately be made at the manufacturing level, and not at the governmental level, to avoid major increases in taxes.

There also needs to be major improvements in the convenience of owning electrically powered vehicles. While some larger cities have started to implement parking meters, or parking garages, that make it possible for someone to recharge their electric vehicle, these services are far and few between. It most places, owning an electric vehicle may still pose a challenge. More cities need to provide charging stations. These charging stations should also be placed at rest stops along the interstates. There can also be involvement by other types of businesses. Hotels, or recreational parks, could start installing more charging stations. The charging stations could even be installed at bus stations, airports, or any other place where a vehicle might be left for a period of time.

If we can make the purchase and use of electric vehicles more economical, and owner-friendly, more people will start to adopt the technology, and our environment will be much better off.


Nicholas Malmin, et al. (Upper Iowa University)

References – Economic Analysis of Sustainability

Marketing Defined

I used to think that marketing was just a push to sell products to everyone by spamming them with advertisements, and other sales pitches. However, marketing is much more than that. A producer shouldn’t be trying to sell a product or service after it has been developed. They should only be developing goods that they’ve verified, through research, that the consumers want to purchase. If you start by determining what consumers want, or need, and develop new products or services based on that, you’ll have a much easier time trying to sell your goods.

When you determine what the consumer wants, you also need to determine how much the consumer is willing to pay for the goods. You need to figure out who your competition is, if any, and how much they are charging for the same goods. You need to figure out if you can afford to provide, or produce, the goods at the price the consumers are willing to pay. If the producer can’t make a profit from the goods, there is no sense in moving the idea forward.

The marketing process doesn’t stop there. You also need to figure out how to support, maintain, and provide warranty services, if needed, for the goods produced. The key here is making sure that you keep the consumers coming back to the same producer in the future. If you just push the goods out the door, and the consumer isn’t satisfied with what they’ve received, they’ll probably choose another producer in the future. If this happens, the marketing process has failed.

If the process is done correctly, it’ll not only help the producer be successful, but it will also make the consumer happy, and possibly provide new employment opportunities for the society as a whole. Someone will probably need to provide customer support, and technical support for the goods. If this is a tangible good someone will also need to work in the factories that produce the goods.

Lastly, marketing will help the evolution of products and services overall, as various producers attempt to market their products and services to the consumers. Producers will be forced to not only drive the prices down in order to compete with other producers, but also to improve the quality of products, and therefore increase our own technological advancement at the same time. These marketing principles can be set by the government, which usually leads to a very poor society, or by the society itself.

The problem with the latter, is that consumers tend to want a large selection of products and goods to choose from. However, the cost is usually only brought down when the producers can mass produce one product, or good, for an extended period of time. The society will demand lower prices, and better products, while the producers struggle to meet those demands by trying to provide a wide array of products and services, which usually drives the prices up.

I believe this definition of marketing is valid because it can be proven, by researching any current society that exists today. If you study marketing and economics, you can determine how the two are related. You can also look at societies where the government is in control of deciding what is produced, and marketed. You’ll probably see that those societies are usually poor, or at least unbalanced, in a way that favors only a small portion of the society. You can also take a look at the United States, or even at yourself.

You probably expect a company to provide a nice selection of goods. When you make the decision to purchase a new cell phone, you’re probably going to want a variety of phones to play with, and choose from. But you’ll still expect the price to be low. You’ll also want the customer service to be professional, and a warranty. Returns should be easy, if they need to happen at all.

This entire process, if done correctly, leads to a circular relationship, where both the producer, and consumer, are “paid” for their participation.

Suicide Island

There is an island, upon which a tribe resides. The residents either have blue eyes, or brown eyes. Yet, it is taboo to talk about eye color in any way. Thus, one resident can see the eye colors of all other residents but has no way of discovering his own (there are no reflective surfaces).  If a resident does discover his or her own eye color, then he or she must commit ritual suicide, at 12-noon, the following day, in the village square, for all to witness.

Note: Everyone on the island is perfectly logical. On this island there are 100 blue-eyed people, and an unknown number of brown-eyed people.

On day zero, a traveler comes to the island, and says aloud for all residents to hear: “On this island, there is at least one person with blue eyes.”

Having said that, he departs; on day 100, all 100 blue-eyed people commit suicide simultaneously. Explain the logic behind these suicides.

Corollary: Why is the traveler important?

Identification of the problem

One crux to this problem, could be the fact that the people on the island are perfectly logical. If the people weren’t logical, they wouldn’t be able to make conclusions about other people’s eye colors, or, about their own eye color. This would make the traveler completely irrelevant.

The traveler is important, because he or she starts the count, and gets things rolling. If the traveler hadn’t come to the island and made the statement about at least one person having blue eyes, none of the people on the island would have been able to figure out their own eye color, and they would all still be living happily ever after.

If either of the two situations above weren’t true or didn’t happen; everyone on the island would still be alive. The people on the island only died because they were both perfectly logical, and the traveler came.


This problem can be solved using multiple cases, with smaller, more manageable numbers. It’s hard to consider the entire problem at once, but if we break the problem down, it becomes much easier to understand.

Case 1: To start off, let’s assume that there’s only one blue-eyed person on the island. Let’s name this person “Mark”. This will make the problem a little easier to understand. The traveler comes to the island, and states that he sees at least one person on the island with blue eyes. Mark, the person with blue eyes, looks around the island, and notices that everyone else on the island has brown eyes. From this, Mark concludes that he must have blue eyes, and, therefore, kills himself at noon the next day.

Mark can make this conclusion because the traveler stated there was at least one person with blue eyes on the island; however, he can tell that everyone else on the island has brown eyes by looking at them.

The other people on the island notice that Mark killed himself, and therefore, must have figured out his eye color. When the other people on the island see that Mark has blue eyes, they put that together with what the traveler stated. Since they are perfectly logical, they also realize that this means Mark must not have seen anyone else on the island with blue eyes.

This information leads everyone else on the island to conclude that they have brown eyes. At noon the next day, everyone remaining on the island kills themselves.

Case 2: In case two, we will have two blue-eyed people. We’ll name them Mark and Bob. After the traveler comes to the island, and makes his statement, both Mark and Bob look around the island at everyone else.

Mark looks at Bob, and notices that Bob has blue eyes, but everyone else on the island has brown eyes. Mark assumes that Bob will kill himself at noon the next day, but when Bob fails to kill himself, Mark deduces that Bob must see someone else on the island with blue eyes. Because Mark is perfectly logical, he knows that this means he must have blue eyes.

At the same time Bob notices that Mark has blue eyes, but everyone else on the island has brown eyes. Bob also assumes that Mark will kill himself at noon the next day. When Mark fails to kill himself, Bob concludes that Mark must see someone else on the island with blue eyes. Bob realizes that he must be the other person with blue eyes, and both men kill themselves at noon the next day.

When the rest of the people living on the island notice Mark and Bob kill themselves on day 2, they realize that they must all have brown eyes, and, therefore, kill themselves at noon on day 3.

Case 3: We’ll use three people in this case. At this point we can continue to use the previous case to help us solve the problem. We already know that Mark was waiting for Bob to kill himself, and vice versa. Let’s add the third person into the problem. We’ll name him, Jim.

In this case, Jim is also waiting for Mark and Bob to kill themselves; however, just as in previous cases, when Mark and Bob fail to kill themselves on day 2, Jim realizes that there must be another person on the island with blue eyes. He can conclude this because neither Mark, nor Bob, have killed themselves, and, therefore, they must see another person on the island with blue eyes.

Just as in previous cases, Jim looks around and notices that everyone else on the island has brown eyes, and, therefore, he must be the other person with blue eyes. There are a couple of things that are happening here, Mark is waiting for Bob and Jim to commit suicide. Bob is waiting for Mark and Jim to commit suicide, and Jim is waiting for Mark and Bob to commit suicide.

Because none of the men are killing themselves, they conclude that they all have blue eyes, and, therefore, they all kill themselves at noon on day 3. When the three men kill themselves, the rest of the people living on the island instantly know that they all have brown eyes. After learning their eye color, the rest of the people on the island commit suicide at noon the next day.

Case N: From the previous cases you should be able to notice the patterning that is arising. This information can be used to construct an algorithm to help solve the larger problem.

In case 1, we had one blue-eyed person. That person killed themselves on day one, and everyone else killed themselves on day two. In case 2, the two blue-eyed people killed themselves on day two, and everyone else killed themselves on day three. Similarly, in case 3, the three blue-eyed people killed themselves on day three, and everyone else on day four.

We’ve used a minimum of three cases in order to prove that a pattern exists. Now that we know there is a pattern, we can solve the finial problem. We could list out every case up until day one hundred, or we could take a more logical approach to reach the solution.

The case-number itself, directly reflects the number of blue-eyed people in the problem. Case 1 had one blue-eyed person; Case 2 had two blue-eyed people, and so on. This means we can substitute the letter N (meaning number of blue-eyed people in this case) for the number of blue-eyed people in our problem.

Case (N): We can break Case N down into two sub-cases: N0, will be the day in which all the blue-eyed people will die, and N1, will be the day in which everyone else on the island dies. If we substitute N, for the number of blue-eyed people, we can figure out when everyone is going to die.

The sum of N plus its sub-case will provide the answer we need:

Case N = {x | x ϵ N and x is the number of blue-eyed people}.

Case N+0 = Blue-eyed people die.

Case N+1 = Brown-eyed people die.


  • We used multiple cases to help break a large problem down, into more manageable pieces.
  • We constructed a simple algorithm to help solve the problem.

Looking Back

I think this is a pretty silly problem in the first place. First of all, it states that everyone is perfectly logical. Why would anyone that is perfectly logical kill themselves over eye color? If the people really were perfectly logical, they would use their logic to put together a raft, and sail away from the island, while waving their fists, and telling the rest of the inhabitants to “stuff” their crazy laws.

But on the bright side of things, if you happened to be lucky enough to have brown eyes, you get to live one day longer than everyone that had blue eyes. On the downside, you had to watch 100 blue-eyed people commit suicide, which is probably the real reason why all the brown-eyed people killed themselves the following day. Either that, or they all died from heat stroke while attempting to dig 100 graves.

Number Sets

Given the following problem: List the sum of all numbers between 7,777 and 70,000, where the numbers are divisible by 7.

Identification of the problem

The crux of this problem is to break the larger numbers down into smaller sets, or groups, so that we can try and identify some type of pattern to work with. In order to solve this problem, we’ll need to calculate the sum of all the numbers between 7,777 and 70,000, but only for those numbers that are divisible by seven.


We’ll need some type of a chart to help us understand the numbers we’re working with. It would be unrealistic for us to list all of the numbers between 7,777 and 70,000, so we’ll work with a smaller list.

7,777 + 7,784 + 7,791 + … + 69,986 + 69,993 + 70,000

The numbers we’ll be working with are listed above. I’ve used an ellipse, (the three dots) to signify that there are missing numbers. This is much more practical than trying to list all of the numbers. The list shows that the numbers start at 7,777 and continue counting by seven, until the number 70,000 has been reached.

The problem asks us for the sum of all the numbers that are divisible by seven. Using this information, we can dramatically decrease the size of our list, as I have done above, by incrementing the numbers by seven.

Basic math will tell us that the number 7,778 is between 7,777 and 70,000; however, we’re not interested in that number, because it’s not divisible by seven. By incrementing the list by seven, I’ve excluded all of the numbers that will have no effect on the outcome of this problem.

Now, we need to find the sum of all the numbers in our list. I could add them all manually, either in my head, or by using a calculator; however, this would take an outrageous amount of time, and isn’t a very practical solution.

We’re going to use a more logical method to find the answer to this question. The first thing we’ll need to do, is see if there is any data in the number list that we can work with. Let’s try to alternate extremes on the number list and see what happens. We’ll take the smallest number in the list and add it to the largest number in the list.

7,777 + 70,000 = 77,777

After doing this, we can see that the answer is 77,777; but does that number have any significance? Let’s find out by alternating extremes again. We’ll take the next number, from each side, and add them together, just to test the result.

7,784 + 69,993 = 77,777

It appears that we’ve gotten the same result again; both calculations resulted in the number 77,777. Let’s try alternating extremes one more time and see if we get the same result.

7,791 + 69,986 = 77,777

Now that were able to produce the same answer three times in a row, it’s probably safe to assume that this is not a coincidence. It seems that, by alternating extremes, we are able to produce the same number every time.

We now have a number that appears to show up every time, but what does this number mean, and does it have any significance in solving this problem?

First, take a look at the diagram I’ve drawn below. This should help you understand the calculations we’ve done thus far. I’ve drawn lines from the numbers that we’ve calculated, and listed the sum of those numbers where the lines connect. As you can see, each result was exactly the same.

Figure 1 - Describes the set calculations completed thus far.

I’ve taken the number 77,777 and labeled it as our “set sum”. The name itself doesn’t mean anything, but it should help you understand the diagram, and our problem, a little better.

Let’s build an algorithm to help us solve the rest of the problem. There are probably many different algorithms that would work for a problem like this. I’m going to show you one method, that I know works. You can then use a program such as Microsoft Excel to verify that the answer we came up with is correct.

The first thing we’re going to do is create the outside set. To do this, we’re going to subtract numbers, instead of adding numbers. Because we’re looking for the sum of all numbers divisible by seven, let’s create the outside set using the number seven. We’ll take the smallest number in the list and subtract seven from it; this will be our outside set sum.

7,777 – 7 = 7,770

Per the calculation above, our outside set is 7,777 – 7, and our outside set sum is 7,770. The next thing we’ll do is take the largest number in our list and subtract our outside set sum. This is shown in the following calculation.

70,000 – (7,777 – 7) = 62,230

We’ve used two numbers to make up each set in this solution, and we were looking for all numbers that were divisible by seven. To find the next part of our algorithm, we’ll take the total number of numbers (or elements), in each set, and multiply them by the number seven.

2 x 7 = 14

Now, let’s take the number 62,230, and divide it by the number 14, to get the next part of our algorithm. We’ll then multiply that number by our set sum to find the final answer to this problem.

62,230 ÷ 14 = 4,445

4,445 x 77,777 = 345,718,765

Our completed algorithm is listed below:

Figure 2 - Describes the completed algorithm.


  • We created a list which contained all the possible numbers.
  • We created a diagram to give a better idea of how things fit together.
  • We labeled our set sum, and outside set, to make them easier to understand.
  • We created an algorithm to solve the final problem.

Looking Back

This is probably not the only algorithm that can be used to solve this problem, and I didn’t find this algorithm on the first try. It took an hour, or two, of guessing, checking, and moving things around, in order to get this to work.

One interesting thing you’ll probably notice is that every number in this problem is divisible by seven. Even the final answer is divisible by seven. If you wanted to do this problem where each number was divisible by five, you’d want to rearrange a few of the numbers, so that you were using a five instead of a seven.

If you want to test that my calculations are correct, you could write a computer program that would run through the calculations for you, or, if you’re not able to write your own program, you could use Microsoft Excel to validate the answer.

Using Microsoft Excel, you can enter the number 7,777, into any cell in the program, and then use the “fill series” function, ending at the number 70,000, and using a step value of 7. This will create the same list I’ve created above. You’ll have all of the numbers between 7,777, and 70,000, that are divisible by seven, listed in various cells. You can then use the “Sum” function, to add up all of the numbers.

The answer shown in Excel, will most likely be an exponent value, so you’ll need to format the cell which contains the final answer into a “General Number” cell. This will display the full decimal value of the number.

Mr. & Mrs. Anbouba

Mr. & Mrs. Anbouba recently attended a party, at which, there were three other couples. Various handshakes took place. No one shook hands with their spouse. No one shook his, or her, own hand. No one shook hands with the same person twice. At the end of the evening, Mrs. Anbouba asked the seven other people how many hands he, or she, had shaken. Each person gave her a different answer. How many hands did Mr. Anbouba shake?

Identification of the problem

The crux of this problem is to alternate extremes, so that we can eliminate possibilities. One way we can solve this problem, is to use a few diagrams to assist us in obtaining a solution.


For the first part of the problem, we need to figure out the maximum number of handshakes that are going to be possible. We know that there are two people in a couple. The problem states that Mr. & Mrs. Anbouba recently attended a party at which there were three other couples. From this, we can conclude that there must be four couples total. Mr. & Mrs. Anbouba being one couple, and three other couples, whose names we don’t know. This proves that we have a total of eight people.

The problem also states that no one shook hands with their spouse, and no one shook hands with themselves. Now that we have this information, we can form a simple math equation, that will tell us the maximum number of handshakes we will have.

We’ll take the total number of people at the party and remove the two people (yourself and your spouse) that you cannot shake hands with. Now we have a formula we can use to solve the first part of the problem.

Formula: total people – (self + spouse) = max handshakesOr 8 – (1 + 1) = 6

That formula tells us that the maximum number of handshakes any one person can have will be six. Now, we’ll need to figure out the minimum number of handshakes a person could have.

If you read the problem closely, you’ll notice that there is no constraint that requires every person to shake someone else’s hand. From this information, we can deduce that it’s possible for someone to have zero handshakes. This leaves us with zero for the minimum number of handshakes. We can use diagram 1, to represent the information we already know.

Figure 1

For this problem, we can have two different types of responses, one possible, and one absolute. I’ve listed them below:


  1. Possible: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, handshakes
  2. Absolute: All of the possible responses must be used at least once.

We now have enough information to draw the initial diagram that we will use to solve this problem. The circles will represent the people, and the double-sided arrows will represent the couples. Colored lines will represent the handshakes.

We know that someone is going to have six handshakes, so I placed a number six inside one of the circles, as a starting point. It should be noted that I chose this circle at random. I could have chosen any of the circles as a starting point, and the end result would have been the same. I’ve also crossed-off the number six, in the list, to make it clear that the number has already been used.

Figure 2

The next thing we want to do, is draw a line between person number six, and all of the people they will shake hands with. We know that person number six can’t shake hands with their spouse, so we won’t be drawing a line to that person. Diagram 4 shows the result.

Figure 3

We can tell that person number six, has six handshakes. The spouse of person number six doesn’t have any handshakes, and everyone else has one handshake.

We can figure out the next part of the problem, by alternating extremes. In other words, we’ll try to figure out what person will have zero handshakes. By looking at the diagram we can tell that only one person can have zero handshakes. We know this because person number six already has six handshakes, and everyone else already has one handshake. We can identify that person in the next diagram.

Figure 4

Now, someone needs to have five handshakes. It doesn’t matter at this point who we pick to have five handshakes. So, I’ll pick another person at random. Once I’ve identified that person, I’ll go ahead and draw the handshake lines, and mark the number five as being used. You can see the result in the next diagram.

Figure 5

The blue lines indicate the four additional people that person number five has shaken hands with. Notice that they did not shake hands with their spouse, or the spouse of person number six, because we’ve already stated that person won’t have any handshakes.

We can now figure out who will have only one handshake. We can tell from the next diagram, that it’s only possible for the spouse of person number five to have one handshake, because everyone else already has more than one. This is represented in the next diagram.

Figure 6

For person number four, we can pick any of the unlabeled people, because they all have less than four handshakes. I’ll place person number four at the top and draw the handshake lines to the two people on the left, as those are the only two people that person number four can shake hands with. Remember, that they can’t shake hands with their spouse, and everyone else is already labeled with their corresponding handshakes.

Figure 7

If we look at the diagram now; we can see that the unlabeled person (right) on the top, currently has two handshakes. So, we can mark the remaining person on the top, as being person number two. If you look at the two unlabeled people on the left side, you’ll notice that both of them have three handshakes. Let’s update the diagram with the changes for person number two and take a closer look at the remaining two people on the left.

Figure 8

As stated above, both of the people on the left, currently have three handshakes, that are identified by a red, a blue, and a green line. We can also tell by looking at our number diagram (diagram 1), that we only have one number left to use: the number three. Let’s label the person on the top-left as person number three and see what happens.

Figure 10

Looking at the diagram, we can tell that there is only one unlabeled person left. We are also out of numbers to use. If we count the lines on the unlabeled person, we can tell they have three lines, one red, one blue, and one green. This means that this person also has three handshakes. We can now complete our diagram.

Figure 11

The final diagram shows us that we have two people at the party that will have three handshakes. If we look back at the original question, it states that; at the end of the evening, Mrs. Anbouba asked the seven other people how many hands he or she had shaken, and each person gave her a different answer.

When we look at the diagram, we can tell that Mrs. Anbouba must have been one of the people on the left. We know this because if she was any other person, then two of the people at the party would have reported the same number of handshakes when she asked at the end of the evening. Two of the people would have reported they shook hands three times.

The original problem also states that she asked the seven other people at the party how many times they shook hands. This tells us that she did not respond to the question. Otherwise, there would have been eight responses to the question.

We don’t know what person on the left is Mrs. Anbouba, but it doesn’t matter. We only need to know who her spouse was, because the question is asked how many times Mr. Anbouba shook hands. Since we know that Mrs. Anbouba was one of the people on the left, we also know that Mr. Anbouba must have been one of the people on the left, because he was her spouse.

With this information, we can conclude that the total number of handshakes Mr. Anbouba received, was three.


  • We made several diagrams.
  • We listed the possible responses.
  • We calculated the minimum and maximum responses.
  • We alternated extremes.
  • We eliminated possibilities.
  • We created a formula to calculate the max handshakes.

Looking Back

When looking at a problem like this, the solution can seem impossible. It can be hard to picture in your mind, what the final outcome might be. To get around this, we first calculated the minimum, and maximum, responses, and listed what the possible response types were.

We talked through the problem while using diagrams to help break the problem down into more manageable pieces. When using these diagrams, we were able to get a clearer understanding of what was going on at the party. We were able to conclude that Mrs. Anbouba was, in fact, a duplicate.

We also used the method of alternating extremes, to make solving the problem easier. This helped us eliminate possibilities while completing the diagram. If we would have worked from highest to lowest, (or lowest to highest) we would have run into complications solving the problem. Try doing this problem again, without alternating extremes, and you’ll see that it becomes a lot harder to eliminate the possibilities.

While it’s possible to solve this problem without the use of diagrams, it would have been a lot harder to come up with the correct answer, and there wouldn’t have been an easy way to test that the answer was correct.

This Game We Play

Locked away, covered in code, compiling this, compiling that, hacking this, whoops, shouldn’t say that! Scary isn’t it? You just never know, who’s watching you now, shaxor, time to go, on the move, one more time, got to stay ahead. This game we play, this game they play, behind the board, amazing now, scanning this, what’s up with that? You’re open now, they’re hiding it now, you try and say this, you try and do that, either way you go, they’ve got you now! You’re on the move, this game we play, isn’t it nice? What’s your name? It’s different now, you’re crazy now, they don’t believe you now, you’re running now, call them now, they can’t help you now. It all breaks down, it’s on the line, next line is mine:

Kenneth R. Jones