6
$\begingroup$

Here are 6 matchsticks.

Matchsticks

You should rearrange them, to make nothing

But you should not waste or get other matchsticks

$\endgroup$
8
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ lateral thinking? $\endgroup$
    – Oray
    Jul 24, 2020 at 8:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Oray What is lateral thinking? A Tag? $\endgroup$
    – math scat
    Jul 24, 2020 at 8:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "5 matchsticks"? I see 6...! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jul 24, 2020 at 9:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Stiv Sorry. number mistake. $\endgroup$
    – math scat
    Jul 24, 2020 at 9:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "out-of-the-box thinking" - Does that mean we can use the matchbox to solve the puzzle? If so, it's easy. $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 14:01

7 Answers 7

17
$\begingroup$

With all these mathematics going on, I have nothing to add:

enter image description here

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1
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Why didn't I think about this? Nix means nothing in german too. $\endgroup$
    – math scat
    Jul 24, 2020 at 14:09
18
$\begingroup$

I think this might be the answer you had in mind! This is I think is the most canonical of my attempts. No change in character size and only using basic arithmetic without repeating or "abusing" operations

enter image description here

Here is one which makes use of powers and some "abuse" of operations.

enter image description here

Here we get a little more abstract. Summing from 1 to 1, i.e. summing over an empty set, i.e. nothing!

enter image description here

Here go further down the abstraction hole. An object that does not exist! $F_n$ is a common standard notation for the finite field of $n$ elements. Here we have supposed the field of $\mathbb{V I}$ or 6 elements. But since 6 is a composite number that is not a power of primes, no such field exists!

enter image description here

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8
  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer. But there is still one more. $\endgroup$
    – math scat
    Jul 24, 2020 at 9:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I just used GIMP, its entirely free and open-source gimp.org. $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 9:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Deepthinker101 I don't see what you mean?, oh a "long 1. I don't like using the matchsticks to make mismatched sized characters, else we could make a big hexagon and call it zero. $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 9:34
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ Nit-pick: $\sum_1^1$ isn't really summing over the empty set; it's actually the single term corresponding to the index 1. $\endgroup$
    – Ankoganit
    Jul 24, 2020 at 15:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Good point! I always make this mistake by thinking of in terms of for loops. $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 15:47
17
$\begingroup$

Okay, because there are so many answers, here is what I thought:

nil

NIL means in maths 0

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6
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I was just about to post that :/ $\endgroup$
    – Magma
    Jul 24, 2020 at 9:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I actually think the mathematics tag is misleading/unfitting here. Nil is almost never used as zero in mathematics. It is very commonly used in sporting events, especially British ones. $\endgroup$ Jul 25, 2020 at 7:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mark Ok, I changed the tag $\endgroup$
    – math scat
    Jul 25, 2020 at 9:24
  • $\begingroup$ go language go language $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2020 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ @zixuan What does go language mean? $\endgroup$
    – math scat
    Aug 10, 2020 at 14:34
8
$\begingroup$

enter image description here

I think this works, I hope it is the right answer

If you break the match sticks

enter image description here

$\endgroup$
6
  • $\begingroup$ Yes it works, but there is one more. $\endgroup$
    – math scat
    Jul 24, 2020 at 9:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Please rotate this picture 90 deg to the right $\endgroup$
    – PDT
    Jul 24, 2020 at 9:13
  • $\begingroup$ Can someone help me edit this answer $\endgroup$
    – PDT
    Jul 24, 2020 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ You are really a deep-thinker! I thought of another one. But I did not think that there would be three answers for one question! Nice answer. $\endgroup$
    – math scat
    Jul 24, 2020 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks but I am not really a deep thinker compared to some the very smart fellows you find on here $\endgroup$
    – PDT
    Jul 24, 2020 at 9:17
7
$\begingroup$

Here's another

enter image description here

|0| or the absolute value of zero.

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3
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I appreciate that you went to the effort of making the zero into Penrose stairs! +1 $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 17:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for noticing. I was going to change the orientation of the matches as well but it was taking me too long.. $\endgroup$
    – MacGyver88
    Jul 24, 2020 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ Dude they are not impossible, try them with your fingers. :) $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2020 at 21:17
6
$\begingroup$

If we really want nothing, what could be better than

the empty set!

the empty set

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

Could the answer be:

1 / 1 = 1 Means nothing!
enter image description here

$\endgroup$
5
  • $\begingroup$ There are meant to be 6 matchsticks $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 15:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MarkMurray I didn't realize, thanks! $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 15:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think the author originally had 5 written down by accident $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 16:35
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Mathematical identity is a cornerstone of algebra, so I'd hardly say that 1=1 means nothing - it is a vitally important foundation of mathematics. $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang Yeah, but logically, it does :) $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2020 at 18:14

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