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The Hardest Viral Math Problems Of The Year

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To some people, math comes naturally, but simple equations remain a mystery even for the brightest minds. A brainteaser is OK from time to time, but when the most straightforward task seems like mission impossible, even the calmest minds stress out when they can t deal with simple math problems.

These mats equations went viral for being much more complicated than they seemed – or so simple that people ended up spending days, if not weeks, trying to solve them. Keep reading and try to figure out these 20 math problems that challenged and confused people across the internet.

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20. Only 2% Of People Can Solve This Task

Numbers always have meaning. No matter how simple a row may seem, there is always a difficult task behind it. The same applies to this task, which looks like a simple row of random numbers. However, only 2% of people could figure out this riddle in less than 60 seconds.

This riddle was set by Adam Spencer, a comedian, a mathematician, and the author of “The Number Games.” To solve this riddle, you need to figure out how he ordered the first 14 numbers and finish the riddle by adding the last five. The five missing numbers are two, three, 10, 12, and 13. The trick is that the existing numbers are listed in alphabetical order. Here is how the completed set of numbers looks like: 8, 18, 11, 15, 5, 4, 14, 9, 19, 1, 7, 17, 6, 16, 10, 13, 3, 12, 2

19. This Chinese Math Question For Fifth Graders Confused Adults

Questions for fifth graders can be challenging, but sometimes they can be so complicated that not even adults can solve them. This math question or fifth graders in the Chinese district of Shunqing shocked the world. The problem translates to: “If a ship had 26 sheep and ten goats onboard, how old is the ship’s captain?”

Now, you may ask how a cargo of a ship can help you figure out how old the captain is? This task took the internet by the storm that the Shunqing Education Department had to make an official statement, saying that the question was meant to awake “critical awareness and an ability to think independently.”

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18. This Second Grade Math Problem Left The Internet Seriously Puzzled

At first glance, this seems like a simple task and obvious – you only have to subtract 36 from 49, right? By that logic, the answer is 36. However, this isn’t the correct answer.

The teacher who gave the question later explained, “The district worded it wrong.” But as it stands, the answer is 42.5: 49 – 36 = 13, 13 / 2 = 6.5, and 36 + 6.5 = 42.5. So, half of the dog matters.

17. People Couldn’t Agree On The Answer

From time to time, a math problem pops out on which answer people can’t seem to agree. This math problem was about buying and selling horses.

When this problem was first published on Reddit, it racked up to 500 comments. Answers in the Mumsnet thread ranged from making $10, $20, and $30 to breaking even. So what’s the solution? The right way to solve this problem is to think of the two transactions as separate: -60 + 70 = 10 and -80 + 90 = 10.

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16. This Problem People Actually Solved

Author Ed Southall shared a math problem on Twitter, and people loved it. Ed is the author of “Geometry Snacks.” He shared a photo of a pink triangle inside a square and challenged people to figure out how much of the square is shaded pink. Some gave up immediately, and some solved it. Andy Kiersz, a Business Insider’s quant reporter, was one of those who decided to solve this mystery.

Kiersz said, “The key trick is that the little triangle up top is similar to the pink triangle, which means that the little triangle is just a smaller version of the pink triangle.” “Since the pink triangle’s base is twice the little triangle’s base, its height is also twice the little triangle’s height. But we know that the little triangle’s height plus the pink triangle’s height is 1, so that means the pink triangle’s height is 2/3. Plug that on in and we get our area = 1/2 x base x height = 1/2 x 1 x 2/3 = 1/3.”

15. Parents Couldn’t Solve This Task

Helping children with math problems is a nightmare for some parents. One parent couldn’t deal with her daughter’s math assignment, so she turned to the internet for help.

Luckily for her and the internet community, YouTube math whiz Presh Talwalkar explained on his channel, MindYourDecisions. According to him, the easiest way to answer the first question about when the lights will all be off is to map out the intervals for each lighthouse and see where their “off” sections overlap. To determine when all of the lights will come on together, you need to find the smallest common multiple of the intervals when the lights will be on. The answer: lighthouses will all come on together at 120 seconds, or two minutes.

14. Ice Cream Cones Problem

Artist Gergely Dudás is known for his tricky hidden-object puzzles. One of his puzzles went viral when he shared a math problem, illustrated with ice cream cones on his Facebook page.

To solve the puzzle, you have to figure out what number the empty ice cream cones, white ice cream scoops, and pink ice cream scoops each represents. The answer is that the empty ice cream cone represents the number three, the white ice cream scoop represents the number two, and the pink ice cream scoop represents the number one.

13. Difficult SAT Math Questions

A Quora thread includes what someone called the ‘meanest test problem ever.’ Determining the value of p/n never seemed so difficult. However, there are few ways to solve this problem, according to Talwalkar, YouTube math whiz.

In the first class, the difference from the average is 16 p, while in the second one, the difference from the average is six n. Because these classes average out together — as the problem says, “when the scores of the two classes are combined” — the deficit of points has to be equal to the surplus of points. Therefore, 16 p is equal to 6 n. With this on mind, p/n is: 16 p = 6 n, p/n = 6/16, or 3/8.

12. The Single Most Important Open Problem

A British mathematician claims he solved the most important open problem that ever existed. This problem was around for 160 years, and peers have yet to review it.

Bernhard Riemann first posited the Riemann hypothesis in 1859. This famous hypothesis states that prime numbers’ distribution might follow a pattern described by an equation called the Riemann zeta function. To solve this, one needs to find a way to predict the occurrence of every prime number. British mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah said he solved this problem, but it has yet to be confirmed. If he is right, he will be richer for $1 million.

11. A Missing Number

This puzzle is very similar to Sudoku, as it consists of a rectangle with nine squares, each containing a number, except for the bottom-right square. When you read the first two rows of numbers horizontally, you can see that numbers are 289 and 324.

The pattern is that 17 x 17 = 289 and 18 x 18 = 324. So it stands to reason that the bottom row will be 19 x 19 = 361. Simply said, the missing number is one.

10. Three Pentagons

Some math problems are just fun. Like, there is nothing but fun when you feature three pentagons, each with a set of five numbers. The middle pentagon is missing a number in the bottom-right corner.

From left to right, let’s label the pentagons A, B, and C. The biggest difference between the numbers in pentagons A and B can be found in Pentagon C in the same location across the board. Simply said, Pentagon B – Pentagon A = Pentagon C.

9. Can You Solve This?

This math problem was first spotted in The Daily Mail. It was originally created by Go Tumble and shared on Wiki before taking off on Facebook and going viral. There is not one but two ways to solve this. The first way is to find the solution to add the equation and combine the sum with that of the previous equation.

The second solution involves multiplying the second number of the equation by the number you are adding to it. So, the correct answer could either be 40 or 96.

8. This Problem Had Five Million Views on YouTube

What looks like a simple math problem kept over five million people awake at night. Plau, this simple test had over five million views just on YouTube.

The best and the correct way to solve this problem is to use the modern interpretation of the order of operations, also known as PEMDAS or BODMAS. The correct number here is 9; however, if you try to solve it through operations still taught in schools, the answer would be 1.

7. Common Core Math Quiz

Common core math quizzes are usually popular because they are such braintwisters. However, this particular common core math quiz caused a real firestorm on Reddit.

The first question asks the student to calculate 5 x 3 using repeated addition. The student wrote 5 + 5 + 5 = 15, which was marked wrong. Plus, the teacher corrected it to a solution of 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 15. The second question prompts the student to calculate 4 x 6 using an array. The student drew an array with six rows and four columns, answering that 4 x 6 = 24. This answer was also marked as wrong. As expected, Kiersz had to step in and shared how the idea that a student should be punished for recognizing and applying the fundamental truth of commutative multiplication is just wrong.

6. A Math Problem From Singapore

Good news can go the distance, while great math tests travel from one point of the Planet to another one. This exactly what happened with this math problem from Singapore that went viral in the States.

Kenneth Kong, a television host in Singapore, shared a photo of this 5th grade-level math question on Facebook. By making a table of the dates and merely using the elimination process, it’s easy to conclude that Cheryl’s birthday is July 16.

5. Second Grade Math Question Confused Children And Their Parents

A UK mom tweeted this math problem in a since-deleted tweet saying, “Have you seen this one? Year 2!!” As it usually happens, this was picked up by Facebook and various media.

Although this may sound scary, in reality, the solution is very simple: 19 people getting off the train can be represented by -19, and 17 people getting on the train as +17. Basically, -19 + 17 = 2, meaning that there was a net loss of two people.

4. There Is No Math Here Actually

If there are numbers, it has to be math-related, right? One might guess so, but in reality, no – numbers aren’t always a sign of a mathematical task, even when you don’t understand the language.

So, what is this task about? Interestingly, The Guardian pointed out the simple solution: turn the picture upside down, and you’ll see that the numbers are in numerical order from 86 to 91.

3. This Word Problem Is A Trick Question

You might think that something is missing here, but no. Nothing is actually missing here. This is deliberately created to promote confusing wording.

It actually makes sense if you look at the total, not the debt owed. Even the Twitter community stepped in. Twitter user Mat Whitehead laid it out in a table to show that there’s not a missing $1.

2. Math Question From Vietnam

Some mathematical problems aren’t difficult but time-consuming. This is the case with this famous math problem from Vietnam. This is basic math, where each digit from 1-9 can be used only once.

Numbers have to be used in such order to fill in the snake and make the equation equal to 66 (colons are division signs). There is no shortcut here. Everything comes down to finding the correct configuration of numbers comes down to trial and error and the process of elimination.

1. Harvard, MIT, And Princeton Students Got This Question Wrong

When a math problem is really difficult, college students usually cannot solve it. This is exactly what happened when this math test was first presented.

More than 50% of students at Harvard, MIT, and Princeton got this question wrong. It seems obvious that the answer is 10 cents, right? This answer is wrong. One dollar is only 90 cents more than 10 cents, not a full dollar more. The correct answer is five cents: $0.05 + $1.05 = $1.10.

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