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When we first saw this puzzle on social media, we were, well, puzzled! But then we looked closer, and the answer seemed so clear. Can you see it? Can you find the number 250 in this infuriating and visually confusing puzzle?

Everyone online is trying to solve it. It’s being circulated on Facebook, across websites, and via email. People everywhere are trying to see the number 250. Can you?

If you haven’t found it yet, take a moment before reading on because we’re going to give you a hint.

If you haven’t found it yet, take a moment before reading on because we’re going to give you a hint.

When you’ve exhausted all your efforts (and your eyes!) trying to find the number 250 in this puzzle, here is a hint: Take a look at the left side of the box. Now, instead of looking up or down to find the number 250, try looking at diagonal lines. Did you see it?

This puzzle is a version of the “thinking outside the box” puzzles, which force you to think outside conventional problem solving themes in order to find your answer. In this case, we are used to reading numbers from left to right. But we sometimes see them reading from top to bottom. With this puzzle, you must “think outside the box” and allow your mind to see the number on a diagonal line.

The origins of the phrase “thinking outside the box” are obscure; but it was popularized in part because of a nine dot puzzle, which John Adair claims to have introduced in 1969. Management consultant Mike Vance has claimed that the use of the nine-dot puzzle in consultancy circles stems from the corporate culture of the Walt Disney Company, where the puzzle was used in-house.

The nine dots puzzle is much older than the slogan. It appears in Sam Loyd’s 1914 Cyclopedia of Puzzles. In the 1951 compilation The Puzzle-Mine: Puzzles Collected from the Works of the Late Henry Ernest Dudeney, the puzzle is attributed to Dudeney himself. Sam Loyd’s original formulation of the puzzle entitled it as “Christopher Columbus’s egg puzzle.” This was an allusion to the story of Egg of Columbus.

The puzzle proposed an intellectual challenge—to connect the dots by drawing four straight, continuous lines that pass through each of the nine dots, and never lifting the pencil from the paper. The conundrum is easily resolved, but only by drawing the lines outside the confines of the square area defined by the nine dots themselves. The phrase “thinking outside the box” is a restatement of the solution strategy. The puzzle only seems difficult because people commonly imagine a boundary around the edge of the dot array. The heart of the matter is the unspecified barrier that people typically perceive.

So how did you do? Were you able to find the number 250 in this puzzle by allowing yourself to “think outside of the box?” How long did it take you?


Do you enjoy attempting to solve puzzles like this one? If so, tell us about your favorite ones to tackle and the methods you used to solve them here in the comments section.


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