A simple question of deduction that you might get asked in a hedge fund job interview.
A small boat is floating in a swimming pool. The boat contains a very small but very heavy rock. If the rock is tossed out of the boat into the pool, what happens to the water level in the pool?
First of all, “very small” is classic physics slang for very, very small (i.e., so small that it is a pinpoint mass). If the rock is tossed overboard, the water level falls as though water equal in mass to the mass of the rock is being sucked out of the pool. The rock forces the boat to displace the rock’s mass of water. After the rock is gone, the boat rises up, and the water level falls down (Archimedes’ Principle).
The next time you are washing dishes, try this experiment. With the sink half-full of water, float a drinking glass. Now drop a steel ball bearing gently into the glass. The glass sinks down, displacing a mass of water equal in mass to the mass of the ball bearing, and the water level rises. Now pluck the ball bearing from the glass, using a magnet. The reverse happens, the glass rises, and the water level falls as though water equal in mass to the mass of the ball bearing is being sucked out of the sink.
Special thanks for this interview question to Timothy Crack, author of Heard on the Street: Quantitative Questions from Wall Street Job Interviews.