# A riddle with no defined answer...

agryson
Posers and Puzzles 04 Jun '07 22:32
1. agryson
AGW Hitman
04 Jun '07 22:32
I'm looking for a question that can be asked using only words with no mathematical references but can only be answered using mathematics.

Harder than it looks...
2. 04 Jun '07 22:41
Originally posted by agryson
I'm looking for a question that can be asked using only words with no mathematical references but can only be answered using mathematics.

Harder than it looks...
depends upon what you mean by mathematical reference. do you mean that it can't have any numbers in it at all?
3. agryson
AGW Hitman
04 Jun '07 22:45
Preferably, I'm looking to demonstrate that there are problems that only mathematics can solve, even if they're phrased in another language.
Basically, it should appear that the problem can be solved with a linguistic logical approach, but ultimately only be solved using a mathematical approach.
4. 05 Jun '07 00:171 edit
What kind of ramp should I build so that a ball will roll down it fastest?
5. agryson
AGW Hitman
05 Jun '07 06:23
Hmm... nice one, and lots of possibility for variation. Any others?
6. 05 Jun '07 07:28
Originally posted by agryson
Hmm... nice one, and lots of possibility for variation. Any others?
Almost any physics question of sufficient complexity.

Richard
7. PBE6
Bananarama
05 Jun '07 13:42
If you have one apple, and I give you one more, how many apples do you have?
8. 05 Jun '07 16:42
Originally posted by Jirakon
What kind of ramp should I build so that a ball will roll down it fastest?
But I could just reply a very steep one!!
9. agryson
AGW Hitman
05 Jun '07 17:37
the one apple one doesn't work because it obviously can't be done without mathematics, that should be the subtlety. As for the steep ramp arguement, the reason it was a good question is it can be modified to be something like...
What shape ramp should I make to ensure that a ball on it will always reach the bottom after the same amount time no matter where I let it go from?
(This may be too complicated as it leads to lots of vector calculations to show it's a cycloid... there's those cycloids again!)
Or...
How steep should my ramp be if I want it travelling as fast as possible after it leaves the ramp?
A question that can be rephrased like this but not mentioning numbers. Or obviously referring to needing mathematics. I want a question that I can convince someone that they can answer without maths, then show that they need maths to solve it.
I understand I'm asking a very vague question, but it's a little project I've got going, so sorry about the ambiguity.
10. sonhouse
Fast and Curious
05 Jun '07 21:06
Originally posted by agryson
I'm looking for a question that can be asked using only words with no mathematical references but can only be answered using mathematics.

Harder than it looks...
How much energy does it take to get out of earths gravity?
11. agryson
AGW Hitman
05 Jun '07 21:15
That's a good one too, can be adapted.
But the problem with 'how much'/'how many' questions is they instantly suggest a number will be required.
But a rephrase could be something along the lines of...
Is there enough energy stored in a single atom of Hydrogen to escape the Earths atmosphere?
Though that too isn't really subtle enough.
Despite how it looks, it doesn't have to be a physics question either, anything that suggests it can be solved without maths (but in fact can't be) will do.
12. agryson
AGW Hitman
05 Jun '07 21:16
And I'll reiterate that i don't have a set answer to this, I'm just looking for interesting questions like this. Keeps me awake at night...
13. 05 Jun '07 21:55
Originally posted by agryson
And I'll reiterate that i don't have a set answer to this, I'm just looking for interesting questions like this. Keeps me awake at night...
Keeps you awake at night eh?

I know a question that haunts nearly every physicists mind.

If there is so much matter in the world, and matter and anti-matter are equal yet opposite, why is there not an equal amount of antimatter as there is matter?
14. agryson
AGW Hitman
06 Jun '07 06:25
Asymmetrical big bang? That's the only theory I think of as doing the job.
(Big bang went out as a dumbell shape, like two balls touching, with a ring floating between them.) The ring held equal amounts while the two balls each held matter or anti-matter.
15. agryson
AGW Hitman
06 Jun '07 06:26
Though it is something that keeps me guessing...
Lots of stuff in physics like that, we know what's happening, but not why.