Our wonderful Diocesan Magazine editor, Jeanette Mentha, has had a tradition over many years of leading us in the general knowledge questions from The Age at the staff lunch table. Today, she strayed into an article in the Age Education supplement about a highly intelligent local lad, who at the age of eight was able to answer the following question:
I take 30 minutes to get home from school, and my brother takes 40 minutes. If he leaves five minutes before me, how long will I take to catch up with him?
She then read out the answer exactly as the boy gave it when he was eight years old:
35 minutes. Because if we both left at the same time, I would get there 10 minutes before him.
Now, that answer caused quite a stir, because it was simply impossible (the boy having only walked for 30 minutes total). Then came a very long argument around the table as we tried to work out the right answer.
I eventually got the right answer after working at it with a pen and paper. It was fairly obvious in the end, but we were still arguing about it, when it was realised that Jeanette had overlooked to read the whole answer in the paper. Apparently the boy also realised he had made a mistake and went on to say…
(see the comment section for the answer)