Can You Solve This Controversial Math Question That Left the Internet Divided?

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Luckily for some of us the days of sitting in match class solving equation after equation are long gone. Others have to relive those days when their kids bring home homework and ask their parents for help. Then there are some who just like to keep up with math problems to keep their brains sharp, and we all should take a page out of their book because as it turns out math even fourth grade math isn’t that easy as an adult anymore.

This equation, in particular, has adults all over the internet arguing about the right answer. Could you be the one to solve it? It may not look complicated, but there is a key to solving it, let’s see if you can figure it out!

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It All Started On Twitter

If you want the answer to something quickly the quickest way to do it nowadays is to find it on the internet. However, with an equation like this, it’s not as simple as typing it on Google or a calculator and then finding the answer. “Why you ask?” Well if you remember from your math days, equations get different results depending on the order you do them in.

That is why people are divided in two groups with answers that aren’t even closely off to one another. This seems odd considering that both are using calculators which is a pretty universal way of measuring things. Well it turns out there’s a reason…

Don’t Forget The Paranthesis

8 / 2 (2+2)=? equation written in chalk on blackboard

tigger11th / Getty Images Via Canva Pro (edited with text on top)

tigger11th / Getty Images Via Canva Pro (edited with text on top)

Let’s look at the equation together. All the digits are small which should make it pretty simple right? Well, it can be if you approach it correctly. We’ll start by giving you a hint…it’s all in the order of operations. Don’t ignore the parenthesis, they hold the clue.

Think back to your school days, wasn’t there a little secret formula that you were supposed to follow when solving a math problem? If you already had PEMDAS in mind then good job you’re ahead of half of the internet who tried to solve the equation in the wrong order, leading to the wrong answer even if done on a calculator. Now, with that in mind, find your answer….let’s see if you got it right!

Is It 1 or 16?

man looks confused in front of 2+2= equation on blackboard

Viorika / Getty Images Via Canva Pro

Viorika / Getty Images Via Canva Pro

So at this point, if you’ve probably gotten one of two answers, either “1” or “16”. These were the two answers that had the internet divided.

“I do parenthesis, multiplication, then division so I believe it’s 1” commented a person while another argued, “it’s 16 and if you say otherwise start packing your clown shoes.” People were not only finding different answers but standing firmly that they were the ones that were right. Who do you think is right?

A PEDMAS Refresher

cut off face of woman with glasses in front of blackboard full of equations

Pepifoto / Getty Images Signature Via Canva Pro

Pepifoto / Getty Images Signature Via Canva Pro

One last thing we need to cover before we reveal the right answer is how PEMDAS actually works. It is meant to be used as a guide on how to approach the formula by establishing an order of sequence:

According to The Khan Academy: “The order of operations is a rule that tells the correct sequence of steps for evaluating a math expression. We can remember the order using PEMDAS: Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, and Division (from left to right), Addition and Subtraction (from left to right).”

Let’s Do It Together

iphone calculator on top of red agenda and notebook

Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Let’s figure out the right answer together. If we follow the order of operations, we would do the math problem in this order. First, we would tackle the parenthesis, so “2+2”. This would leave us with “4”. Next, keeping in mind that the “4” is still in parenthesis, we would still tackle it first and multiply it with the 2 next to it, bringing us to an 8. Now to finish it off we’re left with 8÷8 = 1.

Now to get “16” we would have had to complete the math problem in the parenthesis and then carry on from left to right. So instead we would have done 8÷2 = 4 and then multiply the 4 with the 4 in parenthesis and get 16.

Technically both answers follow PEMDAS. Is it possible the answer is ambiguous?

A Brain Is A Muscle That Needs Working Out

virtual depiction of the human brain activity

Science Photo Library / Canva Pro

Science Photo Library / Canva Pro

Whatever result you got, doing brain exercises like this is really beneficial. While the brain is actually an organ it needs to be exercised like a muscle. In fact, Mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness, with benefits that keep the mind sharp and the body healthy long term.

The best kinds of brain exercises are the ones that you get to slow down, decompress and trigger a memory. While in the past we assumed that the adult or mature brain reached a point of not being able to develop or expand further, we actually now understand that the brain is capable of growing new neurons. We don’t have to lose neurons in adulthood, we can actually build them with exercises like this. The more we keep the brain active, the more we increase its vitality and retain brain cells, or even produce them at any age.

The Mind And Body Connecction

woman doing sit ups on mat by the window

Jonathan Borba / Unsplash

Jonathan Borba / Unsplash

The mind and body connection means that what happens in your body affects your mind and vice versa. So the more you help your body, the more you actually help your mind. Physical exercise actually increases the flow of oxygen to your brain. Plus it releases other happy and feel-good chemicals that get a positive cycle started for both the mind and body.

Working out can help maintain a positive outlook on the mind which keeps the mind healthy. In the same way, mental exercise keeps the body alert and energetic. Mental exercises like meditation put the body in a relaxed mode and equip it with the tools to survive the everyday. It’s amazing how much control we actually hold over ourselves.

Get To Know Your Own Mind On A Deeper Level

woman meditating while facing the sun on a deck

Jared Rice / Unsplash

Jared Rice / Unsplash

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Higher Perspectives Author

Higher Perspectives Author is one of the authors writing for Higher Perspectives