News And Finally

Sunday 15 September 2019

The story behind the maths question which has been driving the internet crazy

Everybody can calm down now, okay?

Maths research
Maths research

By Edd Dracott

A maths question has been troubling thousands online, but the teacher who wrote it has now calmed people’s frustrations.

Here’s how it goes: “An orchestra of 120 players takes 40 minutes to play Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. How long would it take for 60 players to play the symphony?”

Doug here appears to be right.

That’s really not how music works – songs have a set time and changing the number of players doesn’t affect this.

The maths question has been bugging Twitter users hugely, with the original post attracting thousands of enraged retweets.

Some tried to reason with the question, speculating that it might not be a maths question at all.

Well, it turns out those clever clogs were almost right.

The question was indeed set by a maths teacher, Claire Longmoor from Nottingham, who wrote the question 10 years ago – but it was always intended as a trick.

Claire’s question was part of a worksheet trying to teach her students about direct and inverse proportion, and question five’s orchestra puzzle was just in there to keep them on their toes.

And breathe…

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