Planet China

Calculated measure

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At airports, coffee shops and hotels it is normally among the first things patrons ask: what’s the Wifi password? At Nanjing University of Aeronautics the canteen’s bosses decided to turn this need into an educational exercise and test students’ calculus skills. A sign was put up in the university’s Xinyuan Ethnic Restaurant that told students they could only get onto the Wifi if they solved an equation – with the solution containing the password. The equation (see photo, and have a go if you can) was described by the South China Morning Post as “fiendishly difficult”, though evidently was considered a fair challenge for the mathmos at the elite science and engineering college, nicknamed Nanhang in China. In fact a taunting poster was put up in the canteen that stated: “All of us at Nanhang ought to be geeks, right? If you can’t solve a calculus equation then go and study, don’t use our Wifi.”

As its name suggests, the university specialises in maths-intensive subjects like aeronautics and space flight. And in case you are ever in the canteen and fail the challenge, the answer (spoiler alert) is the first digits of Pi.


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