Only geniuses can solve Elon Musk’s favorite riddle – can you answer Silicon Valley’s most challenging brain teasers? | The Sun

ELON Musk has a surprise question for hopeful engineers looking to join SpaceX, Tesla, or Neuralink.

Musk and other technology companies have used riddles to examine candidates' thinking styles – would you make it in Silicon Valley?

Where in the world is Elon Musk?

Musk is a known fan of puns, brain teasers, and video games that make players think.

In 2015, he told biographer Ashlee Vance about tricky interview questions he'll unleash on potential employees.

Musk's favorite goes as follows:

"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?"

If you answered "North Pole" you're right, but you might not be on the SpaceX team just yet – there's a second answer that Musk is looking for.

CNBC sprung this riddle on passing New Yorkers – most struggled mightily with the second answer.

While Musk mostly just wants to see a candidate's thought process, the answer is one mile north of a one-mile circle around the South Pole.

From this position you walk one mile south, reaching the high point of the circle.

Then, when you walk west for one mile, you'll walk in a complete circle – head north for one mile as the riddle says and you're back where you started.

Are you SpaceX's next astronaut?

Rope watch

You have two pieces of rope that are coated in oil – when lit, a single rope will take one hour to burn.

How can you use the two pieces of rope to measure 45 minutes?

This riddle appeared in Jimmy Soni’s book The Founders, for which he had direct access to executives from PayPal – founder Max Levchin posed this mind-melter to Silicon Valley titan Peter Thiel while they discussed ideas that would make them both rich.

The trick is to light one rope at both ends and the other at one end.

The rope with two flames will burn up completely in 30 minutes.

At this point, light the other end of the second rope – remember, it's already been burning at one end for 30 minutes.

The second rope will extinguish in 15 minutes, giving you 45 minutes of measured time.

Thiel got the answer correct – he and Levchin would go on to build PayPal into a billion-dollar company with an All-Star team of entrepreneurs still powering the Valley today.

Adobe's moped query

You have 50 gasoline-powered mopeds and each tank can carry the moped 100 kilometers – what's the furthest distance you can travel using all 50 mopeds?

The wrong answer, one that surely won't help you get hired at Adobe, is 100 kilometers.

Here's a hint: all 50 mopeds do not need to travel together or go the distance.

A clever engineer's answer would be to use all 50 mopeds to go 50 kilometers – this will use 50% of the fuel in each tank.

Take the fuel from 25 bikes and pour it into the other 25 – now half the mopeds have full tanks and the other half are disregarded.

Repeat this process every 50 kilometers, cutting your stock of mopeds in half from 50 to 25 to 12 to six to three, and then finally one.

Remember, each time the number of bikes is cut in half, you've traveled 50 kilometers – this is done five times giving you 250 kilometers of travel.

The last remaining moped has a full tank, capable of traveling 100 kilometers – 350 kilometers is the better answer.

But the best answer, according to Interesting Engineering, is to empty the tank of one bike as soon as there is space in another.

Ride all 50 bikes two kilometers, and take the fuel from one and distribute it among the remaining 49.

Travel a distance of 100 divided by 49 kilometers to clear enough space in the tanks to accept more fuel – repeat until there are no bikes left.

This method yields 449.92 kilometers traveled.

Silicon Valley's adoration for brain teasers comes from an opportunity to watch someone compute a complex, math-adjacent problem while on their toes.

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The fad of asking brain teasers as interview questions has largely gone out of style after a Google internal study revealed the riddles did not help the company hire the strongest, most elite candidates.

Tech employees sharing experiences on anonymous message boards tend to agree that brain teasers are a turn-off for candidates.

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