human behavior

Brain teasers

Posted in Miscellaneous by humanb on October 23, 2009

homer_dohA bunch of us were given this brain teaser before a psychiatry quiz today.

This is a mathematical challenge. It’s been said that if you’re an engineer, you should be able to solve it in 3 minutes; an architect in 3 hours; a doctor in 6 hours; an accountant in 3 months and if you’re a lawyer, probably never.

What is the missing number in this logical series?

1, 2, 6, 42, 1806, ____?

This was easy. It’s all about pattern recognition. The whole “if you’re a lawyer” garbage is just that.

Speaking of pattern recognition, there was an absolutely fascinating piece in the NYT about how humans seek patterns – specifically, how exposure to the nonsensical sharpens the human intellect to look for patterns thereafter.

After my success with the above, a student gave me this second brain teaser which I just couldn’t solve. My husband, a lawyer, got it in 5 minutes and it was suddenly so obvious.

With a stroke of one line make this problem correct without altering the equal sign:

5 + 5 + 55 = 600

Answers after the jump.

What is the missing number in this logical series?

1, 2, 6, 42, 1806, 3,263,442

[(Previous # + 1) * Previous number]

This next one works better in handwriting.

With a stroke of one line make this problem correct without altering the equal sign:

5 + 5 + 55 = 600

5 4 5 + 55 = 600

[Draw a line going up from the left tip of the first plus sign.]

The first brain teaser is pure mathematical pattern recognition, while the second demands something more. Perhaps creativity, as you have to be able to imagine that a symbol can become a number. Perhaps flexibility, as the number 4 will look different, be too small. Perhaps playfulness, as you must be willing to work with what you’ve got, in any way you can.

But I’d really like to think that I’m creative, flexible and playful.

So I’ll just say it demands a sharper mind than mine. 😉

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2 Responses

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  1. mike rankin said, on November 10, 2009 at 1:22 am

    you really have a talent for compost, it could be that they need to run the water a couple more time thru the filters before it comes out the tap.

    • humanb said, on November 10, 2009 at 7:26 am

      Well compost IS good for the environment. I hope my compost is colorful and well-formed.


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