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Deceptively Difficult Math Problem Is Driving Us Bananas


We’re huge fans of riddles and brain teasers around here, but we never thought that a banana puzzle of all things would make our heads hurt. Granted, this riddle does involve math, but we always thought that adding pictures to math puzzles might make them a little bit easier to solve. Not so in this case!

Math puzzle expert Presh Talwalkar proves with a new “Bananas, Clock, Hexagon Viral Logic Puzzle” — on his blog, Mind Your Decisions— that sometimes, pictures can make a brain teaser even more difficult. It’s been claimed that 99 percent of people who try to find the answer to this (adorably illustrated) problem end up failing — and supposedly, if you’re part of the 1 percent of folks who can solve it, you might be a genius! Just take one look at the puzzle and you might not be surprised why.

Tricky, right? Once you get past the cute, cartoonish drawings, it’s a little challenging to figure out what exactly is going on here. We want to know how we got from hexagons to bananas in the first place — and why all of a sudden we’re seeing clocks. (Hope that doesn’t mean we’re running out of time!) Luckily, if you’re stumped, Mind Your Decisions offers a helpful video that explains how to find the difficult solution.

If you guessed 38, give yourself a big pat on the back, because you guessed right. If you’re still confused, no worries — just take another look at the images in the very last line of the puzzle. It takes a true eagle eye to spot that the number of bananas, the time on the clock, and the number of sides on the shape are all slightly different than those listed in the previous equations. Even though it’s a math problem, it really is the pictures that make all the difference.

Just goes to show that it never hurts to take a closer look!

h/t Mental Floss

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