##### Jan 03, 1998

**RAY:** Ha! We're back with the third half of Car Talk, with us Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, and we're here to discuss, of course, cars, car repair and the new Puzzler. Now, I do have some rather convoluted automotive puzzlers in my trash... What is it called? A grab bag.

**TOM:** A trash bag. No.

**RAY:** Well, most of them were retrieved from the trash bag, but since the kiddies are just getting back to school, I thought I would do something to stimulate... You know, cause they've been playing Nintendo for two weeks.

**TOM:** Exactly and now it's time to get the brain back in gear.

**RAY:** There are a lot of our little children that listen to Car Talk that are studying Algebra and I thought I would ask them to simplify the following polynomial.

**TOM:** Let me just write this down. Yeah.

**RAY:** OK.

**TOM:** Go ahead.

**RAY:** X plus A in parentheses times X minus B in parentheses times X plus C in parentheses, dot, dot, dot, dot times X minus Z which is the last --

**TOM:** Z.

**RAY:** Get it?

**TOM:** So, I mean. So, it's parentheses X plus A close parentheses.

**RAY:** Yeah.

**TOM:** Parentheses X minus B close parentheses.

**RAY:** There you go.

**TOM:** So you want --

**RAY:** I want the product.

**TOM:** The product of all those terms.

**RAY:** And...the answer is if you go back two terms, the previous term -- the last letters of the alphabet are z, y, and x in reversed order. So it would be x+y and the term before that would be x-x.

**TOM:** Oh, Sonia ??

**RAY:** Tara Lapinsky's tutu...x-x is zero rendering the whole expression...

**TOM:** Zero.

**RAY:** Zero.

**TOM:** See this is the kind of question that could be on the SAT exam.

**RAY:** Yeah.

**TOM:** And knowing nothing you would know that the answer is zero.

**RAY:** Because you couldn't possibly figure out...

**TOM:** Because you couldn't possibly figure out anything else. So if zero were one of the options, you just check it off without even thinking.

**RAY:** Well, when I first saw this, I had -- my first guess was one; the second was infinity, and the third was zero.

**TOM:** Was zero. Yeah, so you got it wrong twice. That's good.

**RAY:** Anyway who might our winner be, Tommy?

**TOM:** Ah, our winner might be Perry Lewis from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, and it might not be.

**RAY:** But it might be.

**TOM:** But it might be Perry Lewis from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.