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...

Harder than it looks...

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Going where needed.04 Jun '07 22:41

depends upon what you mean by mathematical reference. do you mean that it can't have any numbers in it at all?*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.**

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http://xkcd.com/386/04 Jun '07 22:45Preferably, 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.- Joined
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In Christ- Joined
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http://xkcd.com/386/05 Jun '07 17:37the 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.- Joined
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http://xkcd.com/386/05 Jun '07 21:15That'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.- Joined
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Going where needed.05 Jun '07 21:55

Keeps you awake at night eh?*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...**

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?- Joined
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