Can You Solve Elon Musk's Favorite Brain Teaser?

Joe Scarnici, Getty Images/Best Events
Joe Scarnici, Getty Images/Best Events

"You're standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?" This is the question that entrepreneur Elon Musk reportedly likes to ask candidates who interview for positions at SpaceX. The brainteaser was divulged in a 2015 biography about Musk, but it was recently revived when CNBC took to the streets of New York City to see if random passersby could get it right.

Before we reveal the answer below, a bit of background first. Big companies—especially ones in the technology industry—have been known to ask tricky interview questions that read like riddles. In the past, Google interviewees have been asked, "How many people are using Facebook in San Francisco at 2:30 p.m. on a Friday?" Hewlett-Packard has opted for the question, "If Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it?" And you've probably heard some variation of a question related to golf or tennis balls.

The purpose of these questions it not to make you feel dumb, but to see how you process information and solve complex problems. Interviewers are checking your analytical skills, and whether or not you arrive at the correct answer is almost secondary. But for the fun of it, keep reading to see if you nailed Musk's interview question. Are you ready? The answer is the North Pole. If you follow the directions in the question, you'd make a triangular path and end up back where you started.

There's another possible answer, but it's a little more complicated. The place in question is a circle with a one-mile circumference around the South Pole, and you'd start walking one mile north of it. "You'll walk one mile south to reach this circle, trace that mile-long circle's path, and return one mile north to your starting point," CNBC notes. (If you're having trouble visualizing it, check out this video from Business Insider, which offers a handy illustration.)

If you didn't get it right, don't feel too bad. Most of the New Yorkers who were polled didn't know the answer, either. Fortunately, this question probably won't come up in your average interview.

[h/t CNBC]

A Handy Map of All the Royal Residences in the UK

Frogmore House, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's primary estate on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Frogmore House, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's primary estate on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Somewhere along the way, you probably learned that Buckingham Palace is home to the ruler of the United Kingdom and many unflinching, fancily clad guards. And, if you watch The Crown or keep a close eye on royal family news, you might recognize the names of other estates like Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace.

But what about Gatcombe Park, Llwynywermod, or any of the other royal residences? To fill in the gaps of your knowledge, UK-based money-lending site QuickQuid created a map and corresponding illustrations of all 20 properties, and compiled the need-to-know details about each place.

quickquid map of royal family residences
QuickQuid

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip kept eight estates for themselves, and divvied up the rest among their children and grandchildren, some of whom have purchased their own properties, too. Though Buckingham Palace is still considered the official residence of the Queen, she now splits most of her time between Windsor Castle and other holiday homes like Balmoral Castle in Scotland and Sandringham House, which Prince Philip is responsible for maintaining.

quickquid illustration of royal family residences
QuickQuid

Windsor shares its grounds with two other properties: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s home, Frogmore House, and the Royal Lodge, where Prince Andrew (the Queen’s second youngest child) lives.

illustration of frogmore house
QuickQuid

Southwest of Windsor is Highgrove House, Prince Charles’s official family home with wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. They also own Birkhall in Scotland, Clarence House in London, Tamarisk House on the Isles of Scilly, and the aforementioned Llwynywermod in Wales. Much like the Queen herself does, Charles and Camilla basically have a different house for each region they visit.

illustration of highgrove house
QuickQuid

In 2011, the Queen gave Anmer Hall—which is on the grounds of Sandringham House—to Prince William and Kate Middleton as a wedding gift, but they’ve recently relocated to Kensington Palace so Prince George could attend school in London.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s only daughter, Anne, resides in Gatcombe Park with her daughter, Zara Tindall. Anne also owns St. James’s Palace in London, where her niece (Princess Beatrice of York) and her mother’s cousin (Princess Alexandra) sometimes live.

Lastly there's Edward, Elizabeth and Philip's youngest son, who lives with his wife in Bagshot Park, which architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner called “bad, purposeless, [and] ugly.”

illustration of bagshot park
QuickQuid

If you’re feeling particularly cramped in your tiny one-bedroom apartment (or even regular-sized house) after reading about the royal family’s overabundance of real estate, take solace in the knowledge that at least you’ll never have to follow their strict fashion rules.

A Book Fair for Grown-Ups Is Coming to New York

seb_ra/iStock via Getty Images
seb_ra/iStock via Getty Images

Amid all the prepubescent drama and uncertainty of elementary school was one glimmering spot of hope and happiness: the Scholastic Book Fair. Getting to take just a few minutes out of your regular school day to wander the temporary bookshelves seemed about as enchanting as walking through the wardrobe into Narnia.

For folks who’ve been chasing that particular brand of ecstasy well into their adult lives, we have some big news. Next month, Penguin Random House is hosting a book fair for grown-ups. The Pop Insider reports that the event will take place at Lightbox in New York on Saturday, November 23, and you must be at least 21 years old to attend.

It’s not intended to be an exact replica of the book fair from your own school days, but rather a full-fledged recreation of your entire grade-school experience. The electronic invitation promises pop culture trivia, Mad Libs, an “awkward school photo booth,” spin art, snap bracelets, Mr. Sketch markers, cubbies, and “severe middle school flashbacks.”

There will also, of course, be books for sale, though it’s not clear if the inventory will include throwback series like Junie B. Jones and The Magic Treehouse, or just books for adults.

In addition to tsunami-sized waves of nostalgia, the event will feature appearances from some of Penguin Random House’s beloved authors. The list hasn’t been revealed in full, but Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, tweeted that its author John Hodgman will be there to promote his new book, Medallion Status.

Tickets are $25 for a one-hour time slot, or you can pay $50 to stay for the whole five hours. And your afternoon of embracing your inner kid will benefit actual kids—Penguin Random House will donate a portion of ticket sales to Read Ahead, a non-profit that uses reading to help students learn life-long social and emotional skills.

While the Scholastic Book Fair is still going strong in schools today, the same can’t be said for card catalogs, dodgeball, or these other things.

[h/t The Pop Insider]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER