Friday, June 24, 2016

The Puzzle that Sparked Debate

My darling sister sent me the following the other day:

Brain-splitting equation that even a MATHS TEACHER can't solve has the entire Internet baffled... So do YOU know the answer?

Why send it to me?  Because I have a bachelor's degree in math.  Does that mean I can add?  Nope.  I'm terrible at it.  Talk to any math major and most will tell you have issues with basic math functions.  Besides, I got that degree WAY back in 1982.  Yes, I taught math for 3.5 years, but since then, pretty much nothing other than the odd math problem my kids would bring home.  My husband has math and computer science degrees.  Once the kids hit high school, the math was his.  I just didn't remember all of it.

Anyway, so my sister sent this to me article, wondering what the answer was.

Here's the problem (as taken from the article):


If you read the entire article, it states that the equation can't be solved as written.  Why?  Because the blue flowers in lines 2 and 3 are different than the blue flower in the last line.

If you look at it algebraically, you'd have:

Red flower = A
Blue 5-petal flower = B
Yellow flower = C; two flowers = 2C  (Assuming that's two yellow flowers together on the third line)
Blue 4-petal flower = D

The three top lines would then be:
3A = 60
A + B + B = 30, or A + 2B = 30
B - 2C = 3

And the last line would be:
B + A x (4 petal blue flower) = ?

Substituting and solving gives you (for the first three lines):

3A = 60  thus, A = 20.
A + 2B = 30.  Since A = 20, 20+ 2B = 30.  So 2B = 10 and B = 5
B – 2C = 3  Since B = 5, 5 - 2C = 1.  5 - 1 = 2C and 4 = 2C. C = 1

Thus far:
Red flower = A = 20
Blue 5-petal flower = B = 5
Yellow flower, two flowers = 2C; C = 1


According to the write up, the blue 5-petal flower is 5, so the 4-petal flower must be 4.  Given that argument, the answer would be 81:

By using substitution in the last line:
C + A x D = ?
1 + 20 x 4= ?
? – 1 = 20x4
? = 80 + 1
? = 81.

(OR, since you do the equation in the order of operations, 20 x 4 = 80 and add 1 on).

But I disagree.  The 4-petal flower could be anything.  What says it's 4?  Why do the number of petals have anything to do with it?  Why isn't it just a 'misprint' for the 5-petaled flower, so the answer would be:

C + A x B = ?
1 + 20 x 5 = ?
1 + (100) = 101

(Since you do the equation in the order of operations, 20 x 5 = 100 and add 1 on).

We'll never know if it's supposed to be a 5-petaled flower or a 4-petaled flower.  Thus, it’s unsolvable.  The answer (?) is 20 x (blue 4-petal flower) + 1, whatever that is.

My sister was amazed I could come up with that, but it's written RIGHT IN THE ARTICLE.  Cracks me up!


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