It’s the maths riddle Elon Musk asks candidates during job interviews at SpaceX — and it’s stumped the internet.
It’s the math question Elon Musk reportedly asks candidates during job interviews at SpaceX — and it’s stumped the internet.
Maths influencer and TikTok user, Tanya Zakowich, shared the riddle with her 1.2 million followers, asking if they can solve the tricky riddle.
“You’re standing on the surface of the Earth. You take a walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?” she asked.
Thousands of TikTok users bombarded the comments section to share their answers.
“SpaceX at Tesla that’s where you are,” one person joked.
“Exactly where you started on the surface of the Earth,” a second person wrote.
A third TikToker said. “Still on the surface of the earth.”
Others didn’t know what to make of the riddle and assumed it was a trick question, while some had wild guesses.
“Bermuda Triangle! Stuff disappears there, so I figure all sense of direction was lost,” one person wrote.
One TikTok gave a more philosophical answer: “You ended up in [a] better place than you were before, because you took action. You didn’t stay where you were.”
However, while many believe there is just one answer, there’s actually multiple.
The maths influencer never shared the answer to the riddle, but the billionaire’s favorite interview question was featured in Ashlee Vance’s 2015 authorized biography Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.
According to the New York Times Bestseller, the tech genius personally interviewed nearly all of the space manufacturer’s first one thousand workers in the early years, including janitors, as reported by CNBC.
In fact, he continued to interview the company’s engineers as SpaceX grew.
So what’s the answer? If you guessed North Pole, you would be correct.
According to Popular Mechanics, where the brainteaser was featured as the publication’s ‘Riddle of the Week’ in 2017, it is the most common answer given by engineers.
“If you are standing directly on the north pole and you walk one mile south, then one mile west, then one mile north, you will arrive back at the North Pole,” the publication states.
But it’s not the only answer. Those who guessed South Pole are also correct.
Fewer engineers give this answer, according to Vance’s biography.
“Imagine a circle with a one-mile circumference that has the South Pole at its centre. If you were to start one mile north of this circle, you would travel one mile south, one mile west all the way around the circle, and then one mile north back to your starting point,” Popular Mechanics explained.
“In fact, you could start anywhere that is one mile north of the circle around the south pole.”
However, according to the author, Musk isn’t too phased on whether applicants give the correct answer.
Instead, he likes to use their response, whatever it may be, to analyze how they process information and approach problem solving.
there were many TikTok users who guessed the answers correctly.
“There are a few solutions,” one person wrote. “One is the North Pole but also anywhere one mile north of a place close to the South Pole.”
Did you guess it?