Everything I learned in math class exists in a comfy, well-insulated corner of my mind, not to be roused for the rest of eternity. For that reason, I don’t even bother trying to solve math problems that require more than a two-step operation like addition and subtraction, and maybe multiplication on a good day. Basic algebra? No thank you. The hardest math problem in the world for the past 30 years? OH. HELL. NO.
In Numberphile’s YouTube video, Simon Pampena (a guy who knows way too much about numbers) explains the infamous “Question Number Six,” AKA, that one math problem that will instantly give you a headache. The confusing question was a part of an international mathematical Olympiad that challenges competitors under the age of 20 to solve insanely difficult math problems.
Of the 260-something competitors, only 11 solved this mystery question perfectly. And if that doesn’t give you a clue as to how migraine-inducing this question number six is, the guy who invented the question submitted it to mathematicians, who took a six-hour stab at solving it. BUT THEY COULDN’T EVEN SOLVE IT, GUYSSS.
In a move that’s possibly more confusing than this unsolvable math mystery, the mathematicians decided to include the question on the test anyway. Seriously?! That is all types of messed up.
Here’s the question in question:
In fact, it’s so damn hard that Pampena had to explain it using a diagram.
…and he didn’t even solve it! There’s an entirely different video that gives further explanation on Question Number Six if you’re interested in making your head explode. Pampena simply tells us is that the only possible solutions are fractions and squares. Um, way to narrow it down dude.
If you want frayed nerves and thinning edges, watch the full video below: