Newcastle’s University Challenge Genius: Contestant Answers ‘Hardest Ever Question’


You know when Jeremy Paxman congratulates a contestant that they have done something very, very special. And this was exactly what happened on yesterday’s University Challenge episode, as Jonathan Noble of Newcastle University correctly answered a highly-challenging question, helping the Newcastle team to a resounding victory over their Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge counterparts. First up, take a look at the question and answer below – featuring a great answer by Newcastle’s Noble.



If it wasn’t clear above, the host Paxman asked the following: ‘If 1, 1 is the second row of Pascal’s Triangle, what is the seventh row?’ The Newcastle team struggled to come up with the correct answer. Paxman urged them to hurry up, and then Noble – a trainee teacher, seemingly out of nowhere, responded with the correct answer: ‘1, 6, 15, 20, 15, 6, 1.’ The rest of his team responded in a mix of shock and delight. At the end of the show, Paxman congratulated Noble, and lauded his math skills.




In the end Newcastle romped home to a resounding 205-65 victory over Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Twitter exploded in praise for Noble, as seen below.



So then, what is Pascal’s Triangle? The triangle is named after 17th Century French Mathematician and Philosopher Blaise Pascal. The idea is that the triangle uses a pattern throughout to maintain consistency, while each number in the central core being the result of adding the numbers directly above it together. The triangle is used in a practical sense for determining complex coefficients in binomial expressions, and in probability for identifying combinations.




Some great work from Noble, and the rest of the Newcastle University Challenge team – their dream of winning stays alive. Noble’s quick maths was especially praised by the official Twitter account of the University!






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