# Can You Answer This Simple Math Problem That Has Tricked Einstein?

Aadhya Khatri - Mar 11, 2020

In 1934, when Einstein got the letter, he had already been known for the E = mc2 equation and as the winner of the prestigious Nobel Prize for Physics

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Back in 1934, world-renowned physicist Albert Einstein received a letter from his friend, psychologist Max Wertheimer, with a **math** puzzle enclosed:

In 1934, when Einstein got the letter, he had already been known for the E = mc2 equation and as the winner of the prestigious Nobel Prize for Physics. So this little puzzle must have been easy for him, you may have thought.

However, things were not exactly that simple. As stated in the book Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions, by German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, Einstein wrote that it was not until he calculated the answer that he realized there was a trick.

Presh Talwalker guides us to the answer by working backward. He calculated the time needed for a car to reach an average speed of 30 mph on a 2-mile trip. What he did was to dividing the length by the speed (2/30). So what we have now is 4 minutes, or 1/15 of an hour.

The next step for Talwalkar is to find out the time the car needs to go uphill. He did it by dividing the length of that journey by the average speed (1/15). So again, we have 4 minutes, or 1/15 of an hour.

Now you see the trick. The car needs 4 minutes to go uphill but the entire trip must not exceed 4 minutes. So there is no right answer here, what Wertheimer sent to Einstein was a trick question.

This is, by far, the only occasion that the smartest man in the world was fooled.

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