– The legend around thischalk is that it’s impossible to write a false theorem.
– I assume the special ingredients is angel tears
Mathematicians from the top of the school very frequently use it
– It’s a cult favorite.
– As soon as I use it I was a convert.
– The chalk is one ofthe best kept secrets in the math world.
– It’s the Rolls Royce of chalk.
– Hagoromo is a brand of Japanese chalk.
The way it flows on a board is a bit hard to describe in words.
– It’s really hard to get.
You can only get it from Japan,
you need a Japanese person to bring it back for you.
– I discovered it when I went to visit the University of Tokyo
and one of the professors there and said to me
you know, we have better chalk than you do in the States
我说 得了吧 粉笔不就是粉笔啊
And I said,oh go on, chalk is chalk.
And so I tried it out,
and I was surprised to find that he was right.
– I tried it, and Ithought it was phenomenal.
It’s the densest, it erases the cleanest,
it leaves the nicest line.
– If you use bad chalk often you have to press
really hard for anyone to see what you’re writing so using
Hagoromo on a good board, it doesn’t really
feel like you’re working hard to write.
当我教学时 我精神抖擞 充满自信
– When I’m teaching I get a feeling of energy, confidence,
and the chalk absolutely helps.
– Slowly the math worldhas become aware of this,
and it became a bit ofa fad in some circles.
It was like maybe four years ago the word came out
that the company wasgoing out of business.
I sort of jokingly referredto it as a chalk apocalypse.
So I immediately startedhoarding up as much as I could.
– I ordered three boxesof Hagoromo and kept it in
my office and used it very sparingly.
– I should’ve bought more butI have friends that bought
boxes and boxes and boxes of the stuff.
They might very well be set for the rest of their career.
– We’ve got like 1,500 sticks.
That’s a lot of days, four sticks a day.
I think I’m gonna make it.
– I have probably a 10-yearsupply still at home.
– I calculated how many boxes would I need to last for 10 or 15 years.
I didn’t wanna become a chalk dealer,
but I did like the idea
that I could be the first stick is free chalk dealer on the block in my department
– I was probably sellingit regularly to maybe eight to 10 colleagues.
I would reach into my cupboard in my office
and pull out another box and we’d do the deal in my office.
we all had a chalk fix.
And we still do.
– The original Hagoromochalk is slowly disappearing.
A few years ago, a Koreancompany bought their formulas
and did the best job offaithfully reproducing it in Korea.
– It was mixed emotions.
I was happy to know thatit would still be made.
But I was a little disappointedthat I was less clever than I thought I was.
– In many ways mathematicsis like craftsmanship,
in some ways it’s like artistry; in some ways it’s like science.
But there’s a real highcraft side to getting a beautiful lecture on a blackboard.
Mathematicians admire this in each other
and like to use the best tools for it.
– There’s incredible valueto this
but the value is in using it up, not hoarding it.