You are familiar with Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, right? It’s one of the most epic and most enduring masterpieces from the master Ludwig van Beethoven himself.
Fun fact: The 9th Symphony is the last complete symphony composed by Beethoven and it is considered by many as his best. Amazingly, he wrote it toward the latter part of his life when he was already completely deaf!
But no matter how profound this symphony is, alas, it can’t be spared from becoming the latest viral meme. Not after an old math question started spreading online.
The question goes: “An orchestra of 120 players takes 40 minutes to play Beethoven’s 9th symphony. How long would it take for 60 players to play the symphony?”
So, take a guess. What should be the answer?
That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works. pic.twitter.com/EdSSJInqEp
— Doug Mataconis (@dmataconis) October 9, 2017
The question is simple enough, right?
Apparently, it’s not that simple for some people. Maybe they didn’t know what a symphony is but they understood it as an equation of inverse proportions – they thought half the number of players means twice the time it will take for them to finish the symphony. Hmm, nope.
Actually, like any other piece of music, the number of players shouldn’t affect the length of any symphony. Based on the question then, the answer should be 40 minutes.
With the viral question burning the short-form lines at Twitter, the original author of the test finally chimed in. She explained that it is a trick question she concocted 10 years ago to keep her students alert while working their way through a test sheet.
I wrote this!! How did you get this??? I am a maths teacher in Nottingham UK. Wrote this 10 years ago. Here is the original whole worksheet pic.twitter.com/jYX55GSBKz
— Claire Longmoor #FBPE (@LongmoorClaire) October 11, 2017
The answer is settled then, coming straight from the horse’s mouth. But uh oh, like any great classical symphony, the controversy simply just won’t fade away.
Now, classical music aficionados are all joining in this meme action. They are saying that this question is entirely moot because guess what? Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is not even a 40-minute symphony. How dare this teacher truncate one of the pinnacles of human musical genius!
Well, it could very well be just a super-speedy conductor orchestrating it in 40, but when played properly, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is actually at least 74 minutes from start to finish.
So from the get-go, it seems like the question is already destined for both musical and mathematical failure.
— Patrick Koppenburg (@PKoppenburg) October 10, 2017
What do you think? Did you get this trick question right? Drop us a comment.
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