# Noughty Mathematics Question

1. Take out an imaginary piece of paper.
2. Turn it 90° clockwise.
3. Make a mental note to use right-justification and nice, tight kerning and leading.
4. In the top-right corner, draw two zeros.
5. Under that, draw another zero.
6. Under that, draw another zero.
7. Under that, draw two more zeros.
8. Under that, draw yet another zero.
9. Now draw a line underneath,

Now tell me:

How many zeros will you have?

• Noughty... I get it... nice
– Cain
Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 16:57
• Is step 10 missing? Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 22:45
• @ubadub Yes. It's part of the puzzle. "What goes in step #10?" :) Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 23:24
• If filling in step 10 is part of the puzzle, then shouldn't it say, "Now tell me: What is step 10 and how many zeros will you have?" Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 23:33
• @jpmc26 I don't believe so. There's a fine line between offering too much information (too easy, no fun!) and offering too little information (too hard, no fun!). I estimated that having step #10 blank and letting the puzzlers figure out what to do with the blank step would add slightly to the difficulty and, perhaps, add a little more fun to the puzzle while keeping it solvable. The question was not "What is step 10, etc.", it was "How many zeros? Use whatever means you find necessary to figure this out." I certainly would've accepted a correct answer that did not specify what step 10 was. Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 16:44

One hundred zeroes.

As:

Step 2 is rotating a blank piece of paper. Once the other steps through to step 9 are followed, the paper is still 'on its side'. By recognising the word on its side, the meaning of the blank step 10 becomes clear: 'turn the imaginary paper 90° back again, so that it is right-side up'

Resulting in:

• That's it! I'll add the ✅ eventually. Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 12:55
• I don't understand how you got that from a blank step 10, nor what "as for addition" means in step 9 Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 13:45
• This answer assumes keming rather than kerning.
– rob
Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 14:34
• @AHKieran If you see BGs then you have a 99% chance of staying alive. Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 14:39
• I don't get it. Where did you get Step 10 from? It's blank in the question. Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 22:45

I can't see any pattern in the given list of zeroes, so maybe the answer is

One.

That would be because the paper being imaginary suggests that

we might very well be on the complex plane

and then the line underneath the zeroes suggests

that a complex conjugate was taken. On the complex plane, this operation mirrors any patterns vertically, which is why the line is now at the bottom.

With this in mind, we can split the zeroes into groups of three lines,

which will, when vertically mirrored, look a bit like this: ⠼⠚

which happens to be

Braille for "zero".

(No. That's not at all far fetched! Why do you keep saying that? Well, maybe it is, just a little. But look! Look! The lateral-thinking tag is there!)

• Has anyone said "Wow!" yet? Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 12:18
• @Chowzen I'll gladly do. Wow! Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 12:31
• @Bass Wow! Wow! Wow! Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 4:32
• If there has ever been a more surprising fitting unintended answer to a puzzle, I don't know what it is. Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 13:36
• @IanMacDonald, I ...may have taken a liberty (or two) in hiding all the cherry picking and shoehorning that was required to make this answer fit at all. But at the first glance, it does seem pretty credible, doesn't it :-)
– Bass
Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 7:02

Three

Because:

When you turn the paper back 90 degrees anticlockwise, your drawing looks like:
$$8^{00}8^01$$ (for want of better formatting)
Which contains 3 zeroes.
It also contains $$8008$$ which looks like the word BOOB, hence the Noughty/Naughty pun in the title.

• So you imagined drawing zeros of differing shapes and sizes, depending on how many were on a particular line? (scribbles notes in his psychiatrist's notepad) Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 11:40
• Well I didn't know how to format it... Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 11:44
• So far, this is the closest to the intended answer. And yet, the number "3" is way off. :) Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 12:46

Zero - because the piece of paper is imaginary, and so therefore are the 'drawn' zeroes.

in text:

0 0
0
0
0 0
0

0 0

So there are total of

9 zeroes

• I don't see any kerning here... Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 12:45
• @Chowzen.. I thought you meant kerning to align single zeroes to the right, just like we do in addition Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 12:48

I feel like the question answers itself.

I have drawn seven 0's and then there is three more hole-punched at the bottom of my sheet of paper. So after step nine has me draw something that is not a zero the question answers itself by telling me, there you go, you have ten 0's.

I believe this answer to this question is quite noughty indeed.