Okay, Smartie Pants! Can You Solve this Simple Math Problem?

Barry Lenson

If you’ve taken any calculus or algebra classes online, you have some great math skills, just waiting to be unleashed on the quadratic equations and other complex math problems of the world.

You know the kind of problems I am talking about . . .

  • “It takes Jerome 40 hours to compose a symphony and Edna 25 hours. If Jerome leaves Detroit and drives toward New York while composing a symphony and Edna leaves New York and drives toward Detroit while composing a symphony, where will they meet? Whose symphony will be longer, and by how much?”
  • “There are two plugs of different sizes in a bathtub. If you remove plug A, the tub will drain in 10 minutes. If you remove plug B, the tub will drain in six minutes. How long will it take to drain the tub if you remove both plugs at once? (This is a ridiculous question. Have you ever seen a bathtub with two plugs? Who’s kidding who here?)
  • “Guatemalan kumquats weigh an average of 4 ounces each. Canadian kumquats weigh an average of 7 ounces each. If you are given a bushel basket that weighs one pound and told to put in just enough kumquats to make the full bushel weigh 11 pounds, what percentage of the kumquats you use will be Guatemalan, and what percentage will be Canadian?” (This question is really beneath contempt. What sane person would want to spend more than about four seconds thinking about such nonsense?)


Okay, Smartie Pants . . .

You probably have the skills to solve problems like those. But do you have the skills to solve something a lot simpler – the following math problem that requires only addition, subtraction, and multiplication?

4 x 4 + 4 x 4 + 4 - 4 x 4 = ?

Looks simple, right? And it actually is. Yet when some ambitious folks put it up on theirFacebook page recently, not a single person had the gumption to offer an answer on the page.

Sure, some people “Liked” the problem. But “liking” it isn’t the same as solving it, is it?

So here’s your chance. Why not answer the problem and submit your answer as a response to this post? We look forward to seeing what you all come up with.

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