Home > Humor of the Week Archive Detail

<< Prev 5/4/2014 Next >>

It Must Involve Egyptian Addition Using Rates!

Can you solve this word problem?

If a man and a half, all of whom speak Scot's Gaelic as well as English and have had five years of schooling, dig a hole and a half while the temperature is 35 degrees Fahrenheit, smoking 22 cigars, eating 4 pounds of preserved goose, reciting a Shakespeare sonnet, take a day and a half to do the job, how long will it take one man speaking only ancient Egyptian, Sumerian, and Chinook trade jargon and having 3 years of schooling, to dig a single hole while the temperature is 3 degrees centigrade, smoking 11 cigars and eating 3 kilos of noules marienere while saying from memory all the poetic contents of the Egyptian edition of The Lord of the Rings?



If you have not read Linderholm's book, try to find a copy (but they are rare). In his Introduction, Linderholm writes: "There is no doubt that an absolute ignoramus...may become slightly confused on reading this book. Is this bad? On the contrary, it is highly desirable. Mathematicians always strive to confuse their audiences; where there is no confusion there is no prestige. Mathematics is prestidigitation. Confusion itself may be taken as the guiding principle in what is done here - if there is a principle. Just as the fractured leg confused the Zen disciple, it is hoped that this book may help to confuse some uninitiated reader and so put him on the road to enlightenment..."

Source: C. Linderholm, Mathematics Made Difficult