Math Travel Riddle

February 14, 2014 at 1:57 am 2 comments

My wife has been traveling a lot recently. She’s been to Savannah, Miami, San Antonio, and Amsterdam — all in the past month. Reminds me of a riddle.

What travels around the world but always stays in a corner?
A stamp.

She had a strange encounter at one of the airports.

One of her flights was cancelled, and many inconvenienced passengers were being rebooked by just one agent. An angry passenger pushed to the front and said, “I have to be on the next flight, and I have to fly first class!”

“I’m sorry,” said the agent. “You’ll have to get in line and wait your turn.”

“Do you know who I am?” the man asked.

The agent grabbed the microphone and said, “Attention, ladies and gentleman, there’s a passenger here who doesn’t know who he is. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to Gate 43.”

The man glared at the agent and shouted, “F**k you!”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the agent replied. “You’ll have to wait in line for that, too.”

While talking about her trips, the boys were intrigued that she would get home just 3 hours after leaving the Netherlands: her flight departed Amsterdam at 11 a.m. and arrived in Washington, DC, at 2 p.m.

That leads me to your challenge for today, if you choose to accept it:

Describe a trip in which you arrive to your destination at the same time you left.

I think that’s a great Common Core classroom problem, because there is an unlimited number of possible solutions. Many solutions are correct — as long as students are asked to justify their answer, of course.

The following travel joke is your reward for solving that challenge. (You did solve it, didn’t you?)

A professor and a grad student were returning to New York from a conference in Puerto Rico. But fog forced the plane to divert to Washington, DC. As the grad student passed the cockpit, he complained to the pilot, “A little bit of fog never stopped a train from getting to its destination.”

“That’s right, John,” said the professor to the student. “And the next time you want to go from New York to San Juan, you should definitely take the train.”

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Go to Vegas, Saul Specialized Language of Mathematics

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. puntomaupunto  |  February 14, 2014 at 3:46 am

    On the top of my head, there are at least three solutions (written in rot13):

    – zl gevc gnxrf gjraglsbhe ubhef naq cnffrf guebhtu gur vagreangvbany qngr yvar
    – zl gevc gnxrf bar ubhe naq cnffrf guebhtu n gvzr mbar
    – zl gevc gnxrf bar ubhe naq vf znqr nebhaq gur gvzr jura qnvyl fnivatf gvzr frnfba raqf

    Of course there is also the “null trip”, a trip of length 0. Does it count?

    • 2. xander  |  February 14, 2014 at 11:17 am

      Those were pretty much my thoughts, though I also considered the use of wormholes, tachyons, or a TARDIS.


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The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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