While accompanying my friend Professor Highflite during a scientific
kite-flying competition on the South Downs of Sussex I was led into a
little calculation that ought to interest my readers. The Professor was
paying out the wire to which his kite was attached from a winch on which
it had been rolled into a perfectly spherical form. This ball of wire
was just two feet in diameter, and the wire had a diameter of
one-hundredth of an inch. What was the length of the wire?
Now, a simple little question like this that everybody can perfectly
understand will puzzle many people to answer in any way. Let us see
whether, without going into any profound mathematical calculations, we
can get the answer roughly--say, within a mile of what is correct! We
will assume that when the wire is all wound up the ball is perfectly
solid throughout, and that no allowance has to be made for the axle that
passes through it. With that simplification, I wonder how many readers
can state within even a mile of the correct answer the length of that

A JUVENILE PUZZLE. A LEGAL DIFFICULTY. facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail