Tuesday June 16, 2015

Mathematicians snatch up last boxes of the "Rolls Royce of chalk"

(Satyan Devadoss)

Listen 6:25

It's been called the "Rolls Royce of chalk."

For mathematicians around the world, Hagoromo Fulltouch Chalk is the brand of choice. But, earlier this year, tragedy struck. The Japanese company that manufactures it went out of business. Since, mathematicians have been trying to get their hands on the remaining boxes. 

"It writes like butter on the chalkboard," math professor Satyan Devadoss tells As it Happens host Carol Off. "It's wonderful."

Devadoss was introduced to the chalk by a colleague at a mathematics conference.

"I tried it. It was love at first sight. I couldn't believe such a thing existed," he says.

Since then, he's been a Hagoromo Fulltouch chalk convert.

"Some chalk . . . it just crumbles and gives away. This has this firmness and that deliciousness," he says.

As a lecturer at Williams University in Massachusetts, Devadoss uses chalk as an important teaching tool.

"While I write ideas on the board, my students can pick up a chalk and correct me or change it. This is far more difficult to do on a computer screen," he says. "It's that playfulness that I find absolutely wonderful."