The volume of a canoe

Back in the late 80s, I was a student at a very idealistic institution that focussed on international understanding. Basically, the curriculum helped teach Canadians about the world at large, and international students about Canada.

One of my friends there was a Chinese student, who did one of the most remarkable efforts of mathematics I know of. Although he was primarily a student of language and liberal arts, he earnestly set about trying to find a formula for the volume of a canoe.

He didn’t find one, although he showed about 20 pages of excellent work. In math, that’s the main thing. It took me years to realize that the noble failure of the young Ke Song could be seen as a comment on Canadian culture.

There is just no formula for the volume of a canoe. You sort of have to guess.

Anyway, everyone hopes that their canoe will never be filled with water.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>