# What is the deal with this “troll” question? [closed]

About an hour ago, an apparently brand-new user posted this absurd question. Because I suspect it will be deleted soon, here it is in full:

Physics teacher gave really hard math problem

I really need some help with this extreme math problem, any help is greatly appreciated.

A train leaves a station traveling due east at 1:00 PM on Monday. It is traveling at 100 mph. At 2:00 PM in a station precisely 1,150 miles east, another train is leaving. This train is cooler than the first, so it gets to travel at 110 mph going due west on the same track as the first train. As soon as these trains run into each other, the explosion will instantaneously ignite the engine of a third train. This third train immediately accelerates to a constant speed of 50 mph. It is traveling at an exact 45 degree due north-west direction. After traveling 200 miles, it will instantly increase its speed to 60 mph. For four more iterations, every 100 miles, its speed raises by ten miles per hour, for a total distance of 500 miles. After this, the train immediately stops on the track and pauses for 30 minutes, then resumes, instantly accelerating to 25 mph. 100 miles later, the track ends, and the train falls for one minute before hitting the water and pushing a conveniently placed boat forward at a constant rate of 5 mph due north. After traveling for 20 miles, the boat docks, and the captain leaves the boat. He then runs for 25 minutes to the nearest airport. A half hour later, his plane accelerates down the runway and reached cruising altitude in 36 minutes, traveling at 300 mph. The plane is traveling due south and continues on this flight path for 3,450 miles. It then begins a 50-minute descent to the nearest airport, still traveling due south. Immediately upon landing, another plane leaves a different airport. Its speed constantly fluctuates between 10 mph and 500 mph, changing instantly every second. However, it still manages to travel exactly 175 mph. After 1575 miles due west, it turns to face due north. Simultaneously, another plane 4,956.25 miles north begins its flight due south traveling 150 mph. Upon colliding, a massive explosion of light gets sensed by a light sensor which happens to connect to the engine of a nearby train. This sensor causes the engine to start, and the train immediately begins its path due east at 75 mph. The sole passenger forgot to exit the train and is currently sleeping in the car directly behind the engine. After 15 minutes, another unmanned train sets off accidentally from its station traveling due west. At the time of its start, it is 175 miles from the other train. After continuing its path at 100 mph, the trains eventually collide. Just before the collision, the passenger awakes, sees the danger, and jumps out the window. As the trains collide, he lands inside another train traveling 50 mph due south-west. At the same, another train leaves a station 1,195 miles south, and 400 miles west of the first train. This train is traveling due north at 100 mph. It is so long that the last car is 105 miles behind the engine. At what time and day will the passenger with the tau shirt sitting in the last car be killed by collision with the engine of the other train?

I have never seen a post like this, and I really have no idea how to interpret. I’m asking some more experienced members of the community to conjecture about the following:

1. The tone of this question doesn’t fit that of a first-time poster’s. Who could have posted this question? Could it have been someone from the community who has a separate account?

2. It doesn’t make sense for someone to transcribe a problem of this length and expect an answer. What could have been the motivation?

3. Elections are coming up. Could this have been a test for the future candidates?

• I would say to not worry about it - these kinds of people do exist in the world, and it could have as easily been a professional troller as a kid wanting to get a laugh. Nothing much is going to happen after you downvote it to get the moderator's attention. – Toby Mak Sep 30 '17 at 2:26
• Need just one more delete vote. The community can deal with these problems easily (just like any other spam questions) – user99914 Sep 30 '17 at 2:36
• @JohnMa I’m so sorry—I didn’t mean to passive-aggressively abet the community I deleting it. I was really just curious about what could have prompted something so bizarre :) – gen-ℤ ready to perish Sep 30 '17 at 2:45
• I would not bother too much since this is just one question. It just doesn't worth further investigation IMO. – user99914 Sep 30 '17 at 2:48
• @JohnMa Alright :) – gen-ℤ ready to perish Sep 30 '17 at 2:48
• deleted about 35 minutes before this comment – Will Jagy Sep 30 '17 at 4:05
• And the troll account DESTROYED. Could have happened sooner, but I just woke up. And there is a wide contiguous block of moderator-free time zones to the East from mine. – Jyrki Lahtonen Sep 30 '17 at 4:30
• I doubt its a test for future candidates in the election... there are much more reasonable ways that could be done. – Simply Beautiful Art Sep 30 '17 at 21:42
• I find this question very amusing . Its orthography and syntax are perfect and the question makes sense in a Rube Goldberg way. I would bet that the author is a qualified teacher and/or scientist who was in the mood for a prank in the form of a caricature of certain types of questions in the academic world. I'm sorry that the question was deleted: I think it deserved a cooler reaction. For my part, I certainly would have upvoted it... – Georges Elencwajg Oct 1 '17 at 21:12
• The answer is: it will never happen unless it's the setup for the first episode of a new season of "24". Jack Bauer would prevent it otherwise. – Deepak Oct 2 '17 at 0:20
• I loved this question. It's clearly poking fun at the "real world applications" (read: contrived bullshit scenarios) the kids are being "taught" (read: cajoled into memorizing). Apparently abstract the concepts like "domain/codomain" and "if A, then B" are considered too difficult, yet obnoxious worded questions that even professional mathematicians struggle to comprehend, those are considered fair game. – goblin GONE Oct 3 '17 at 14:21