This “Simple” Math Puzzle for Children Has Stumped the Internet. Can You Solve It?

This math puzzle is not for the faint at heart—or mind.

Are you a mastermind mathematician? Try your hand at this doozy—and you won’t even need a calculator to solve it. This problem may be billed as an “easy” brainteaser for children, but it has left even the most advanced puzzle solvers scratching their heads.

To answer the riddle, you must first determine which number each fruit represents. Then, you can solve the final equation. Seems simple enough, right? (This simple math problem seemed easy, too… at first.)

But if you ask most Internet users, you’ll find that there is a huge range of possible answers. People have argued that the final number could be anything from 14 to 15 to 16 to 20. At first glance, those who answered 16 appear to have it right. Let’s do the math, as explained by The Problem Site:

3 apples = 30, so 1 apple = 10.
10 + 2 bananas = 18, so 2 bananas = 8 and 1 banana = 4
4 – 1 coconut = 2, so 1 coconut = 2
Therefore, 1 coconut + 1 apple + 1 banana = 2 + 10 + 4 = 16

It’s not quite that easy, though. If you take a closer look at the photos, you’ll notice that each bunch of bananas contains four bananas. However, the one in the final equation only has three bananas. Same goes for the coconut; while the third equation has one coconut, the last one has only one-half of a coconut.

Keeping those details in mind, let’s try again.

3 apples = 30, so 1 apple = 10.
10 + 8 bananas = 18, so 8 bananas = 8 and 1 banana = 1
4 – 1 coconut = 2, so 1 coconut = 2
Therefore, 1/2 coconut + 1 apple + 3 bananas = 1 + 10 + 3 = 14

So, the correct answer is 14. Right?

Well, not so fast. Actually, due to the puzzle’s vague instructions, “there are an infinite amount of possible answers,” Dr. Kevin Bowman, course leader for Mathematics at the University of Central Lancashire, told Mail Online.

How’s that for a brain buster? If you’re looking for more, try to figure out how many triangles are in this image. Or if you have an eye for detail, try to spot the difference in these 10 pictures.

[Source: The Telegraph]

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Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a researcher at PBS FRONTLINE in Boston, Massachusetts, and writes regularly about travel, health, and culture news for Reader’s Digest. Previously she was a staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her articles have also appeared on MSN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance, among other sites. She earned a BA in international relations from Hendrix College. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeTNelson.