Saturday, December 1, 2007

Riddle...

that would make the Sphinx incontinent.

If a + b = 6, what is c + d?

*******

This happened about 10, 11 years ago, when I was in college.

I was walking back to my hall of residence, after a mathematics lesson, with a good friend, Alex. We were 18, and between the two of us, we controlled the all-boys ‘house’. We ruled the place. The biggest argument I ever had with him was when he wanted to change the colour of our house shirt to black, from the existing bright pink. I completely disagreed. I felt, among many other feelings, that nothing beats a mean looking group of boys winning a rugby match in their pink shirts.

We walked past a post-box. Alex, who now delves in multi-million dollar deals and is expecting his second child, asked:

“Why is the post box red? Why not blue?”

“So that we don’t confuse it with the sky!!” I replied, laughing my head off at the brilliance of my quick wit.

“Why is the sky blue?”

Why is the sky blue?

That question shut me up.

Why?

I don't know.

It got me thinking…

Thus it began, my quest.


If a + b = 6, what is c + d?


I’m serious, that’s how it began!

That night, I asked many of my hall-mates that question. I asked 11 year-olds to 19 year-olds. A few months on, I went to university, and continued asking that question. A few years down the line, I started working, and asked that question. And till today, I still ask that question.

And I’ve got fascinating answers throughout the years.

The younger ones at college were usually quick to do some maths in their heads, and come up with an answer. They were prepared to get the wrong answer. Of course, the looks on some of their faces when I tell them they’ve got the right answer, were priceless. Add to that a comment that they’re set for pre-university mathematics with such intelligence, and you have totally confused kids.

The more mature ones, if they don’t tell me to get lost, or completely ignore the question, would give it a go. Some went to great lengths to try and solve it, and I’ve come across some truly amazing efforts. I’ve been introduced to some pretty cool maths formulae I’ve never heard of before, statistical analyses, theorems…

c + d, to me, is anything you want it to be.

Whatever answer you give, is the correct answer. Absolutely whatever.

As long as you’re happy with it.

I've got cold stares, scoldings, threats of actual bodily harm and stuff like that when people hear my answer… Obviously, they were not as amused as I was :-). Some laugh, some insist that there must be a mathematical solution to it. Some, after finding out my answer, were equally intrigued by their own reaction to the problem. Interesting, how people react…

I don’t know what I’d set out to prove, but it doesn’t matter I guess. It can be for any reason, as long as I’m happy with it!

And 10 years on, those mean boys are still wearing pink…

10 comments:

nhc said...

degree of freedom
= 4(components) + 2 - 1(equation)
= 5

sphinx must have great mathematicians to solve the equation!

B-)

ainur said...

I know the answer!!!!!!!!
Hehehehhe....

Muacks!

Anonymous said...

hi ainur. nice to meet you.

but..but..

what's the answer? +)

Cik Sweetylemon said...

huhuuhuhu main2 mathematics in blog nih!!! Waaaa blog i kene delete oleh blogdrive yang bongong tuh!! WTF right????

Idaman said...

nhc, you're correct... :-) Nice equation.

And ainur got it right as well... just that I can't remember the brilliant way you worked it out.. quite impressive...

cik sl, I guess you just got to start a new one. Now!

Saya Yang Ayu said...

Last week, when I read your entry I wanted to answer 7.

Then I realise it is not a Mathematical question. The only thing that would make it a maths equation is the fact that I'm blinded with the plus sign.

It is a great way to see how people react, and a great way to see which side of the brain people are using.

And you can actually use that to your advantage. How to get people engaged to you! Good luck with that.

Cik Sweetylemon said...

eh kita ada main teka2 nih tanjung? asal i tak ingat lansung aaarrr.... Nevertheless, i tak jawab pun soalan tuh, otherwise i would remember. Nampaknya yang nih pun i tak jawab jugak.... i citer pasal mende lain huhuhu. BTW, blog i dah ok... up and running!

Idaman said...

Hehe... I really wonder what was discussed in the e-mails! I don't remember seeing the replies either...

7 would have been the right answer too :-) But yeap... it has been very engaging. Still...

miss, why you call yourself sweetylemon?

Cik Sweetylemon said...

Coz like the person itself... sweetylemon is different kind of lemon. Kalau lemon jer sure masam... but sekali seumur hidup, if you are lucky enough... you akan jumpa a lemon yang sweet huhuhu...

Idaman said...

That's a very good reason... and a very true description of the person as well!