Math Riddles

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These are the best and most fun math riddles we can find. All of these tricky riddles are based on real math concepts and can be solved with purely math and logic.

 

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Riddle: Four people need to cross a bridge in 17 minutes in the middle of the night. The bridge can only hold two or less people at any time and they only have one flashlight so they must travel together (or alone). The flashlight can only travel with a person so every time it crosses the bridge it must be carried back. Tom can cross in 1 minute, John can cross in 2 minutes, Sally can cross in 5 minutes, and Connor can cross in 10 minutes. If two people cross together they go as fast as the slower person.

How can they cross the bridge in 17 minutes or less?


Answer: First Tom and John will cross (2 minutes). Then Tom will bring the flashlight back (1 minute). Next Sally and Connor will cross (10 minutes). Then John will bring the flashlight back (2 minutes). Finally John and Tom will cross (2 minutes). 2 + 1 + 10 + 2 + 2 = 17 minutes.

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Riddle: What is the difference between a dollar and a half and thirty five-cents?


Answer: Nothing. A dollar and a half is the same as thirty five-cents (nickels). But not the same as thirty-five cents.

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Riddle: A smart landscaper is given the task of placing 4 trees so that they are all the same distant away from each other.

How does he do this?


Answer: He puts three trees into a triangle then one on a hill in the middle (this forms a tetrahedron).

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Riddle: A man taking the census walks up to the apartment of a mathematician and asks him if he has any children and how old they are. The mathematician says "I have three daughters and the product of their ages is 72." The man tells the mathematician that he needs more information, so the mathematician tells him "The sum of their ages is equal to our apartment number." The man still needs more information so the mathematician tells him "My oldest daughter has her own bed and the other two share bunk beds."

How old are his daughters?


Answer: His daughters are 8, 3, and 3. The prime factorization of 72 is 2 * 2 * 2 * 3 * 3, so the possible ages are 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, and 18. Using the prime factorization and these numbers the only combinations of numbers that work for the first clue are:

18, 2 and 2.
9, 4 and 2.
6, 6 and 2.
6, 4 and 3.
8, 3, and 3.

Since he doesn't know the ages after this piece of information the sum of the three numbers must not be unique. The sum of 8, 3, and 3; and 6, 6, and 2 are the same. Now the final clue comes in handy. Since we know that the oldest daughter has her own bed it is likely that she has the bed to herself and is older than the other two so there ages are 8, 3, and 3 rather than 2, 6 and 6.

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Riddle: A grandfather has a broken grandfather clock that is off by a minute every hour (too fast). He figures out a way, while keeping it running at the same rate, to make the clock say the correct time twice a day.

How could he do this?


Answer: He made it run backwards.

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