Can You Solve The Poison Wine Challenge? | Infinite Series | PBS Digital

Can You Solve The Poison Wine Challenge? | Infinite Series | PBS Digital
You’re about to throw a party with a thousand bottles of wine, but you just discovered that one bottle is poisoned! Can you determine exactly which one it is?

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The answer to this puzzle comes from an unexpected place.

Comments answered by Kelsey:

Mike Guitar

David de Kloet

Written and Hosted by Kelsey Houston-Edwards
Produced by Rusty Ward
Graphics by Ray Lux
Made by Kornhaber Brown (

This entry was posted in Wine.


  1. David Davison says:

    For the 1000 bottle question, you want to conserve as much wine as possible, so don’t test one of the bottles, don’t use 9 or 10 rats on any bottle, and use 8 rats on only 32 bottles. This saves the most wine possible.

  2. Robert Stolorz says:

    Yea… there’s always another solution. If you have 1000 bottles just dump all of them out mixing them together to create a delicious red wine blend and in the process you dilute the poison enough to where it’s harmless.

  3. πρGI ei says:

    I’m from Poland. In our country 1000 bottles is not enough so someone buys 24 more. Now you can start playing. With 1024 bottles you can safely drink as well. 1024 divided into 2 sets of equivocal. 2 rats are checking these bottles which one is always killed. Set witch the poisoned bottle again divide for 2 sets and repeat that there will be 1 poisoned bottle

  4. Richard Braakman says:

    “Hmpf. These bottles have all been opened. Can we get some fresh ones?”

  5. Denny Chen says:

    I feel like this channel, like Numberphile, has no idea what its target audience is. One week, it’s Shor’s Algorithm, covering (very confusing) probabilistic computing, and the next it’s binary numbers.
    I still enjoy the content, at least what I can understand.

  6. Manabender says:

    I tried this at my own party and all the rats died. But I don’t have a bottle number 1023.


  7. BertiferousRex says:

    Well I thought I was doing pretty decent by getting it down to no more than 28 bottles. Rat 1 gets a drop from 1 to 166; 2 gets 167 to 333; 3 gets 334-499; 4 gets 500 to 665; and 5 gets 666 to 831 (no rat gets 832 to 1000). Then rat 6 gets a drop from 1, 7, 13,…; rat 7 gets 2, 8, 14…; rat 8 gets 3, 9, 15…; rat 9 gets 4, 10, 16… rat 10 gets 5, 11, 17 (no rat gets 6, 12, 18…).
    Based on which one or two rats die (up to one from each group), you can break it down to 28 poisoned bottles.

    I think I completely forgot she said anything about binary numbers when i paused it to go get a piece of paper to scribble on.

    Regardless, by the time you fed all these rats their wine, all your guests would have arrived…

  8. RealRuler2112 says:

    You could do it the traditional way and continue narrowing it down using the remaining 9 rats as it would take longer than an hour for people to drink 900 bottles of wine. =)

    Using binary is more elegant though.

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