The Penny Problem That Breaks Your Brain

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Your mind is a massive collection of information, patterns, trivia, algorithms, and more — and you have absolutely no idea how or when any of it is going to be useful. If you’ve got 50 stacks of 50 pennies, and you know one of those stacks is fake, do you have all the knowledge you need to find the most efficient measurement to find it?

Yes, you probably do. You just don’t know it. Part of the series is in the problem, but part of the series is inside you.

If you’ve ever thought about adding or subtracting consecutive numbers, mathematical patterns, or more advanced material like convergent and divergent series, you have all the ingredients you need for a solution to the penny brick problem that breaks your brain. The question is whether the two systems of thought in your brain are able to work together to find the answer.

From Euler to an 8-year old Carl Gauss to Ramanujan, the informational and mental tools to solve a simple penny problem likely exist somewhere in your head. And by harnessing the dual process theory of the brain, you can stumble on a mathematically elegant solution to a problem you never even knew you’d ever have to solve.

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Hosted and Produced by Kevin Lieber
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Research and Writing by Matthew Tabor

Editing by John Swan

Huge Thanks To Paula Lieber

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#education #vsauce #math

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