Minus' Solution to

Payday in an Alternate Universe
Posted May 26 - June 1, 1997

The amount Ronald actually earned is a multiple of 8.
When you add $99 to it, it is an odd number.
The number is a 3-digit number.

When the number is read backwards, it is 99 more than the same number forwards.

The righthand digit in the actual number representing the proper payment for Ronald is one more than the lefthand digit.

This number is of the form xyz, where z = x + 1
The backwards number is of the form zyx.
z must be an even number, since the number xyz must be divisible by 8. Work from the maximum value of z to find the maximum number possible. The maximum possible value for z is 8, so then x = 7.

Of these, the maximum possible value is 768, since 768 is divisible by 8. When you reverse 768, you get 867, which is 99 more.

So lucky Ronald will get paid $867, but he actually worked 768 8 = 96 hours at the rocket fuel plant.

Your Solutions

Victoria Pearce, from St. Hilda's ASG in Perth, Western Australia, was precise and insightful with her solution. We should point out that the Alternate Universe's backward number system can save them money, too. Say, if you were to earn $421, you would actually receive a cheque for...

The solution for this week's math challenge is that Roland worked for a total of 96 hours processing rocket fuel for $8 an hour. ( How did they manage to use our currency?) This means that he will have earnt a total of $768. However, as the company likes to write their numbers backwards - why they want to loose money is a mystery to me - Ronald's cheque actually says $867. So when Ronald follows the advice of the company and cashes the cheque on earth, he gets paid $99 more than he actually earned. Some people have all the luck!

Hope and Libbi, Year 9 students at St Hilda's, provided Minus with an "alternate" ending to Ronald's predicament.

Ronald worked for 96 hours straight and for this he was paid a depressing $768, but was able to receive $867, must more just amount. However, by the time Ronald called Plutonium's Rocket Fuel Processing Corp, and deducted the cost of the call, he was in debt to Universal Phoning so much so that he would have to work solidly for the next umteen light years to pay it off.

The following young chefs at St. Hilda's also added some zest to Minus' meal. All of them cooked up some tummy-tempting dishes, but wouldn't give away the secret to their success (that is, tell us how they got the solution...)

Razlyn Abdul Rahim and Louise Bott
Emily Toster
Amy and Lin
Clara and Ivana
Sarah and Lauren
Annika Gillgren and Naomi Pole
Lib and Jesse
Kylie Jack

Thanks a bunch, girls!
You should see the toothy grin
on our grumpy old shark.