From as long as I can remember, I’ve been good at math. It was just fun. The same way that Jerry West practiced basketball late into the night, I was the same way about math. Probably as a result, I’ve always hated math used as a substitute for intelligence. And it was in that context that I came upon the image above.
It was for something like joining Mensa or buying some “brain training” course of something. But I like a good math puzzle as much as anyone. So I figured I would solve it. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here, and it is as good an excuse as anything.
The thing about it is that it isn’t much of a puzzle. It’s just a math problem. And it takes zero creativity. All you need is to have taken a basic algebra course taught by a reasonably competent teacher. And you must have taken the course seriously enough to learn the material.
That shouldn’t have been hard because math actually is loads of fun. But the fact that someone would use it to construct such a simple, uninspiring problem does sum up everything that makes most people hate math. But without further ado, I guess I will get to it.
Why Someone Thought It Was Interesting
The two equations look similar. It’s just that one is with x and the other with x2. And so it looks like there ought to be some clever trick that allows the problem to simply pop out.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. A mathematician better than I might see something brilliant. But I don’t. There are lots of ways to approach the problem, but they all end in a slog.
Solving the Equations
Sadly, this is a brute force problem. The first equation is just a quadratic that can be solved all by itself, admittedly, with two solutions.
We just multiply both sides of the equation by x, and end up with the following equation:
Oh, how I do wish this were more interesting. There are a bunch of ways to solve this, one way or another, you get that the two values of x are:
If we choose the “plus” case, then x = 4.79. If we choose the “minus” case, then x = 0.209. And through the wonders of mathematics, if you put these two numbers into the second equation, you will get that:
Now an actual mathematical question is why this is so. What we just did was plug numbers into equations. This is a good example of why most people hate math.
Even worse is that some dimrod thought that solving this question indicated any kind of intelligence or, even worse, intellectual creativity.
But trust me: this is the kind of nonsense that your children are being taught in school. This is why the American Empire won’t last the century.