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Old 6th July 2017, 03:10 PM   #1
Red Baron Farms
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Ultimate math trick question?

Was surfing and came across this problem:

When I was 4 years old, my sister was half my age. Now my sister is 12 years old. How old am I?


Then I got to noticing that there was a huge thread of wrong and/or incomplete answers! 1,755 answers and not a single one as far as I could find got it 100% right. Only a very few even got close. So I thought that those of you here who like math puzzles might want to try your hand at it.

Will award the complementary 3 thumbs up to the party getting it completely right, 2 thumbs for mostly right close but no cigar, 1 for correct but not complete and for using black holes and/or speed of light cheats etc et al.
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Last edited by Red Baron Farms; 6th July 2017 at 03:45 PM. Reason: a person found another "cheat" Leap years :P
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:14 PM   #2
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It seems that the sister is always two years younger. The answer is 14?
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:16 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
It seems that the sister is always two years younger. The answer is 14?

sometimes correct but not a complete answer.
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:20 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post

sometimes correct but not a complete answer.
According to your OP, I am correct but not complete
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:21 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
According to your OP, I am correct but not complete
exactly. Care to guess again? Or let someone else play?
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:27 PM   #6
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Well in typical communication we say we are "4 years old" for 364 days. For high precision we would need to know the birthdays of both people. I think.
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Well in typical communication we say we are "4 years old" for 364 days. For high precision we would need to know the birthdays of both people. I think.
And if anybody has a leap year birthday. Damn leap years.
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:32 PM   #8
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An ambiguity I can see arises from a literal reading of

When I was 4 years old, my sister was half my age.

This is (or was) only partly true, unless you and your sister have the same birthday.

A more "normal", that is, non-tricky reading of the phrase is that for most of period that you were 4, your sister was 2, but there was a period at one end or the other when she was either 1 or 3.

If she is now 12, you could be either 13, 14 or 15, depending on birth dates and current date.
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:38 PM   #9
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Oh, I get it: The "trick" is that the question is pointlessly pedantic.
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:43 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by WhatRoughBeast View Post
An ambiguity I can see arises from a literal reading of

When I was 4 years old, my sister was half my age.

This is (or was) only partly true, unless you and your sister have the same birthday.

A more "normal", that is, non-tricky reading of the phrase is that for most of period that you were 4, your sister was 2, but there was a period at one end or the other when she was either 1 or 3.

If she is now 12, you could be either 13, 14 or 15, depending on birth dates and current date.
Getting closer.
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:44 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
And if anybody has a leap year birthday. Damn leap years.
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:48 PM   #12
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I presume this depends on relative birthdays. If I turned four on December 31, and my sister turned three on January 1, then for one day a year, I'd be four and she'd be two. But for the rest of the year she'd only be a year younger.
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:52 PM   #13
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:52 PM   #14
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I hope that when the full explanation (the punchline) comes it's cool and educational. Please don't let it be a turd.
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:54 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Oh, I get it: The "trick" is that the question is pointlessly pedantic.
Exactly.


Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
Getting closer.
Just how stoned are you?



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Old 6th July 2017, 03:56 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
I hope that when the full explanation (the punchline) comes it's cool and educational. Please don't let it be a turd.
It took all of a handful of posts to layout what should be the big payoff.

"Ultimate" my ass.
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Old 6th July 2017, 03:56 PM   #17
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My boys were born 18 months apart, so for half a year, age wise, they are two years apart, for the other half they are only one year apart.
I suspect someplace therein lies the answer to this mathematical conundrum.
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:00 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Jim_MDP View Post
It took all of a handful of posts to layout what should be the big payoff.

"Ultimate" my ass.
Well several posts from VERY VERY smart people trying to solve a trick question math puzzle and although quite a few are dancing around the answer, still no one got it completely correct yet........including you.

So if you actually want to scoff with disdain, why not answer it correctly first?
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:10 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
Well several posts from VERY VERY smart people trying to solve a trick question math puzzle and although quite a few are dancing around the answer, still no one got it completely correct yet........including you.

So if you actually want to scoff with disdain, why not answer it correctly first?

I had in mind in three seconds both the normal intended answer and the more detailed "gotcha" explained in later posts. It's not a new puzzler.

But I don't think many have bothered to give the problem a great deal more skull sweat than that. If you've got some deeper angle on the question (please don't go metaphysical)... will we be blessed with the reveal anytime soon?
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:14 PM   #20
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This thread is now twice as boring as it was at the beginning. How old was this thread when it was posted?
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:22 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Jim_MDP View Post
I had in mind in three seconds both the normal intended answer and the more detailed "gotcha" explained in later posts. It's not a new puzzler.
No one has successfully explained the "gotcha" correctly, and therefor they are wrong. Sorry but if that was your thoughts you are wrong too.
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:23 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
No one has successfully explained the "gotcha" correctly, and therefor they are wrong. Sorry but if that was your thoughts you are wrong too.

Lovely then.

I'm all a-tremble with antici...
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:35 PM   #23
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24.

What do I win?!
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:36 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
No one has successfully explained the "gotcha" correctly, and therefor they are wrong. Sorry but if that was your thoughts you are wrong too.
Your particular "gotcha" does not matter a whole bunch, I remember my own kids thinking that 7 1/2 was meaningful. Amusing, until you happen upon a serious CV where someone claims to be 28 1/2.

WTF? People do this?
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:48 PM   #25
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Reminds me of this:

Abbott: You're 40 years old, and you're in love with a little girl,
say 10 years old. You're four times as old as that girl.
You couldn't marry that girl, could you?
Costello: No. ?

Abbott: So you wait 5 years. Now the little girl is 15, and you're 45.
You're only three times as old as that girl.
So you wait 15 years more.
Now the little girl is 30, and you're 60.
You're only twice as old as that little girl. ?

Costello: She's catching up. ?

Abbott: Here's the question. How long do you have to wait before you
and that little girl are the same age?

Costello: What kind of question is that? That's ridiculous.
If I keep waiting for that girl, she'll pass me up.
She'll wind up older than I am.
Then she'll have to wait for me!
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:52 PM   #26
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I suppose the "gotcha" could be more in the wording than the math.
If it is read to mean that the sister was half "my" current age when I was 4, then "I" might be 11 right now.

My sister was 5 and 1/2 when "I" was 4 and 1/2. Since then 6 and 1/2 years have passed, making her 12 years old- and "me" 11 years old (twice the 5 1/2 that she was when I was 4)
That work?
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:54 PM   #27
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Assuming you live on Earth and your sister lives on Jupiter, you would be, most likely, dead.

Norm
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:55 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by fromdownunder View Post
Assuming you live on Earth and your sister lives on Jupiter, you would be, most likely, dead.

Norm
Then neither of us would "live" anywhere
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:56 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by fibbermcgee View Post
Reminds me of this:

Abbott: You're 40 years old, and you're in love with a little girl,
say 10 years old. You're four times as old as that girl.
You couldn't marry that girl, could you?
Costello: No. ?

Abbott: So you wait 5 years. Now the little girl is 15, and you're 45.
You're only three times as old as that girl.
So you wait 15 years more.
Now the little girl is 30, and you're 60.
You're only twice as old as that little girl. ?

Costello: She's catching up. ?

Abbott: Here's the question. How long do you have to wait before you
and that little girl are the same age?

Costello: What kind of question is that? That's ridiculous.
If I keep waiting for that girl, she'll pass me up.
She'll wind up older than I am.
Then she'll have to wait for me!
Good joke but the answer to this math puzzle is not a joke answer.

I think that maybe the reason people refuse to push their way through and actually solve it just might be because they fear a bad joke answer rather than them actually failing to logic it through completely. Maybe the other half don't get it for the opposite reason. But I wasn't kidding when I stated I saw a list of 1755 people answering and not one really had it right as far as I could see. I guess you get a for a good joke answer though!
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Old 6th July 2017, 04:59 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Distracted1 View Post
That work?
no
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Old 6th July 2017, 05:02 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
no
Why not?
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Old 6th July 2017, 05:06 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Distracted1 View Post
Why not?
Your "If" is wrong. for good creative try though. It's a simple math puzzle, no weird black holes, leap years, Speed of light time warps, or purposely misreading of the question, etc... is required to solve it. Just math.
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Old 6th July 2017, 05:13 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
I saw a list of 1755 people answering and not one really had it right as far as I could see.
You actually read 1755 answers to this question?
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Old 6th July 2017, 05:20 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
You actually read 1755 answers to this question?
No I skimmed the top hundred or so most upvoted answers. The vast majority of answers were 14. A few got tricked and said 24. Less than 5 had 13-14-15, which is false (unless you cheat) but a good try. A few joke answers.

It helps the skimming time to know the site ranks answers. The majority of answers, like 1730 or so +/- were already downvoted and collapsed. You can still view them to double check.....but when I did I saw exactly the same in almost the same proportion too!
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Old 6th July 2017, 05:21 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
Your "If" is wrong. for good creative try though. It's a simple math puzzle, no weird black holes, leap years, Speed of light time warps, or purposely misreading of the question, etc... is required to solve it. Just math.
From that should I take it that " 4 years old " in the question means precisely 4 years old- as it would in a mathematical statement, and "half my age" in the question means precisely 1/2 ?
If that is not the case, my answer is as complete given the ambiguity of the question as any other, no?
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Old 6th July 2017, 05:23 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Distracted1 View Post
From that should I take it that " 4 years old " in the question means precisely 4 years old- as it would in a mathematical statement, and "half my age" in the question means precisely 1/2 ?
If that is not the case, my answer is as complete given the ambiguity of the question as any other, no?
Lets be patient and see if someone who likes puzzles can take a stab at it. I don't want to ruin it for people not online right now! But no. We don't need to add qualifiers either. The statement stands as is.
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Last edited by Red Baron Farms; 6th July 2017 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 6th July 2017, 05:27 PM   #37
William Parcher
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A person shouldn't have to ask another person how old they are. Everyone already knows their own age. This person is retarded or has Alzheimer's.

So did I spot the trick?
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Old 6th July 2017, 05:31 PM   #38
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At least 13, but no more than 14.
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Old 6th July 2017, 05:31 PM   #39
William Parcher
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
No I skimmed the top hundred or so most upvoted answers. The vast majority of answers were 14. A few got tricked and said 24. Less than 5 had 13-14-15, which is false but a good try. A few joke answers.

It helps the skimming time to know the site ranks answers. The majority of answers, like 1730 or so +/- were already downvoted and collapsed. You can still view them to double check.....but when I did I saw exactly the same in almost the same proportion too!
So nobody other than you knew the correct answer. Did the person who posted the puzzle know the correct answer, or was it always only you?
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Old 6th July 2017, 05:37 PM   #40
Red Baron Farms
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
So nobody other than you knew the correct answer. Did the person who posted the puzzle know the correct answer, or was it always only you?
Not that I saw, but I am sure even you can get it right if you just stopped playing it off as stupid and simply tried solving it like the math puzzle it remains.
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