Missing Pieces: Sequencing Math Puzzle Is a Real Head Scratcher, but Can You Solve It?


As humans, we pride ourselves on our cerebral capabilities. We’re rational, we’re witty, we’re smart … and we’re observant.

The rational brain is so adept at using collected information to form ideas, opinions, and predictions about the world that it can sometimes deceive us. We notice patterns that aren’t there because we expect to see them; we fill in the gaps because we predict the finished picture.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Inara Prusakova

Logic is idealistic. Sometimes, reality isn’t quite so perfect!

Let’s take mathematics as a prime (no pun intended!) example. Math problems (think sudoku) have blasted into orbit in terms of their widespread popularity in recent years. Turn to the back pages of any popular newspaper or magazine and you’ll find word puzzles, math problems, and all manner of tricky brain teasers.

You have to concentrate, because the puzzles are designed to challenge our brains’ propensity to predict conclusions before assessing all the details in the picture. The challenge is often irresistible. One particular test has been circulating the internet. It has taken most viewers a good while to solve it, and some people never did. Are you someone who likes to skip forward to the spoilers or will you put the time in and try to solve this puzzle yourself? Can you see what’s missing in this sequence?

©The Epoch Times

The viral picture shows a sequence of numbers from 1 to 53. We’ll give you a clue: two numbers are missing. How about an added challenge? Okay, you asked for it. Set yourself a 20-second timer!

Give up?

Maybe you proved that you’re smarter than the masses and found the missing numbers immediately. If so, well done you. Bask in well-deserved pride and tell all your friends about it! For the rest of you, here’s the information you’re looking for …

The first number missing is 11.

©The Epoch Times

The second is 32.

©The Epoch Times

Do we hear groans all round? It’s not as complex as you thought! This puzzle is an excellent example of how our busy brains fill in the gaps before our eyes have truly taken in the information. If you solved the sequencing puzzle, then good for you, smarty-pants. If not, then better luck next time!

Are you a math whizz? Do you enjoy a logical challenge? Share this puzzle with all of the critical thinkers you know!