A room is in the shape of a rectangular prism, 12 feet high, 12 feet wide, and 30 feet long. A spider is in the center of one of the 12 x 12 walls, one foot from the ceiling. A bug is in the center of the opposite 12 x 12 wall, one foot from the floor. The spider wants to reach the bug by the shortest possible route, and can only travel on the surface. What is the shortest distance, and what is the route? (Hint. The shortest route is NOT the obvious one of going straight up to the ceiling, straight across the middle of the ceiling, and straight down the opposite wall for a total of 42 feet.)

I remember this problem from my school days, and managed to find it again in the Math Forum archives (1995). I would appreciate hearing from anyone who knows the original source. I expect it may be due to Ernest Dudeney.

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