By Jove! I just dropped my seventh calculator, and now it's telling me that a circle with an area of nothing has radius 3. You know that:

  • The calculator calculates perfectly well
  • The calculator's display isn't broken
  • The calculator's buttons work properly
  • "Nothing" isn't , by Jove!
  • π is not 0
  • I am looking at the calculator display as I normally would (not rotated or reflected in any fashion)
  • The calculator is not in an error state (e.g. caused by division by zero, syntax errors)

How could this happen?


The first thing you're looking for means "nothing"

Hint #2:

The first thing you're looking for is less than 5 letters long

  • $\begingroup$ When you dropped your calculator the 'wiring' got crossed, now π inputs 0, so πr^2 always equals nothing $\endgroup$ – TCooper Mar 5 '20 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ This seems way too broad. There appear to be many possible answers, and no real way of knowing which one is the intended one. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Mar 6 '20 at 5:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Deusovi I've edited the question to resolve some of those ambiguities. $\endgroup$ – Avi Mar 6 '20 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ Are you by any chance rot13(Ebzna)? $\endgroup$ – Mohirl Mar 6 '20 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Mohirl rot13(Gung vf irel yvxryl, ol Wbir!) $\endgroup$ – Avi Mar 6 '20 at 17:29

PRE-EDIT - It could be because

It says E for error and you're looking at it upside down.


Depending on the type of calculation, dividing anything by zero gives an error.


Wasn't sure if you were looking at the answer on the floor. :)


The answer depends on

  1. The part of the calculator that is defected

    • The circuitry (unlikely as it can be turned on)
    • The buttons (some of them)
    • The display (assuming 7-segment LCD)
  2. How you tried to find the area and radius of a circle

    • Starting with the radius, $\pi r^2 = A$
    • Starting with the area, $\sqrt{A/\pi}=r$

As none of this specified in the question, the following will only consider the display being defected and try to address both cases of the calculation.

Case 1: $\pi r^2 = A$

It could be that only the last digit (units location) of the seven segment display is working. So, assuming you enter $r=20153$ as the radius, you could only see the last number, $3$. Typing the rest of the formula should yield $1275937150.0183146$, i.e., $1275937150$ on a 10-digit seven segment display from which you could only see the last digit, $0$.

Case 2: $\sqrt{A/\pi}=r$

It could be that only the first digit of the seven segment display is working and the rest just shows nothing (as opposed to a zero). So, assuming $A=31.4$, you could have tried to type the number and ended up seeing nothing then the rest of the calculation is supposed to give you $3.161475988...$ and since only the first digit is working, you get to only see 3; the rest of the decimal digits of the calculator shows nothing.


From the references to


I suspect you might be

A Roman

Although I'm not 100% sure what to do with that.

Perhaps you've dropped

One of the beads from your abacus (maybe the 7th column?), and the abacus now reads nothing instead of the 30 it originally showed as the area.

This seems a bit weak though, I suspect there's more to it

  • $\begingroup$ This isn't it. There is a logical progression between A = nothing and a radius of 3 that my calculator computed. The feature you've identified is a necessary calculation. $\endgroup$ – Avi Mar 6 '20 at 17:42

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