A Word Problem

Do you remember those math (or logic, and later physics) problems in school where there was a short paragraph of explanation and you had to figure out what the actual problem was before you completed it? And they always used to throw in some irrelevant information… well anyway, I’ve just thought of this one (the answer is at the bottom of the post):

Bill, who will be age 6 on June 15, has three apples and a carrot. Suzy gives him one anti-matter apple with a magic spell on it that keeps it from exploding on contact with anything other than a normal-matter apple, and constrains the explosion such that it will only vaporize the anti-matter apple itself and one other, normal-matter apple. The magic spell has no other effects. A train leaves from Point A (a small city in the little-known country of Nation 1) heading northwest at a constant speed of 100 miles per hour towards Point B, a thriving metropolis in the heart of Nation 2, which is a distance of 250 miles from Point A in a straight line. The track is a perfect straight line (tunneled through the earth). It is April 6. The train is enchanted such that it can go from a complete stop (relative to the earth) to 100 miles per hour and back again instantly without gory consequences for the passengers, and does so. If Bill hangs his carrot from a string on the end of a stick and holds it in front of a donkey he is sitting on, and the enchantment on the train has no other effects, how old will he be when the train passengers reach the station at Point B (in whole years, counting each whole year only on or after his birthday)?

So, have you ever come across or fabricated any similar humorous word problems? What were they?


Answer: 5, unless more magic (or time travel) is involved

2 thoughts on “A Word Problem”

  1. Extra Credit: What color is Bill’s shirt?

    You know, June 15th is my birthday!! So you should change the first word in the problem from Bill to Matt. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to your birthday, but we’ll try :/

  2. Haha, I didn’t realize. Did a girl ever give you an anti-matter apple when you were young?

    Anyway let me know when you find out whether you can make it. : ) It’s ok if you’re busy.

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