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Word Problem Guy

Th'smorning, on NPR, there was a story about a guy in New York who is doing his part to combat the biggest fear in America culture today: mathaphobia. He stands on street corner with a big easel, challenging passersby to solve word problems and giving Snickers bars to those who succeed. Really a great story -- you can read about it here and listen to it via Realaudio by clicking here.

In the story, the word problem that citizens are currently puzzling over is this one:

You're a candy store owner. You have 20 pounds of cashews costing $3.55 a pound. And you have peanuts that cost $2.50 a pound. How many pounds of peanuts would you have to mix with the cashews to get a mixture costing $3.20 per pound?
I'm embarrassed to report that it took me a good twenty minutes to get the solution, and then only by resorting to brute force.

Posted on April 16, 2002 to