Fuzzy Math

Nov 04, 2008

RAY: This is from my fuzzy math series. It was sent in by Dave Atkins. On a recent Saturday afternoon, I saw a boy and his mother at the neighborhood diner where I often go for lunch. From my vantage point I could see they were working on some arithmetic problems. The problems seemed simple enough and the kid was getting all the correct answers. For example, the first one was 25 + 8 and he wrote down 33. And the next one was 12 + 5 and he wrote down 17. The next was 35 + 13 and he wrote 48. Then his mother posed the last two problems. 45 - 8. The boy said 47 but I thought the answer was 37. The next one was 42 + 15. The boy said 43. I thought it should have been 57. His mother accepted both of those answers. When I saw how the kid was dressed, I did too. What was going on?
RAY: Here's the answer. My hint was, what was the kid wearing. Well, he was wearing a football uniform.

So when the question was 45 minus 8 and the kid answered 47, it was because if his team was on the opponent's 45 yard line, and lost 8 yards, they would be back at their own 47 yard line.

Similarly if they were on their 42 yard line and gained 15 yards, they wouldn't be in the 57 yard line, there is no 57. They'd be on the opponent's 43 yard line. Cute, eh?

TOM: Ohh that's good!

RAY: So who's our winner?

TOM: The winner this week is Robert Scott from Ypsilanti, Michigan, and for having his answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Robert's going to get a $26 gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at cartalk.com, with which he can get a copy of our latest book called, Ask Click and Clack.

RAY: Congratulations, Robert!

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