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ERIC Number: EJ1155932
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0045-0685
Discovery: The Delian Problem
de Mestre, Neville
Australian Mathematics Teacher, v73 n3 p36-37 2017
Around 430 BCE it is reported that a typhoid epidemic carried off about a quarter of the population of Athens in ancient Greece. When the gods were asked what could be done to halt this raging epidemic, they apparently replied that the altar in the Temple of Apollo in Delios would have to be doubled in size. After several attempts to double the size of the cube-shaped altar including placing an identical cube alongside it (causing the altar to lose its cube shape) and building a cubic altar with its edges double the length of the original edges (increasing the volume by a factor of eight), the gods were still not happy. If the length of an edge of the old altar was one unit, then the length of the edge of the new altar would have to be the cube root of 2 units; hence, the mathematicians were called in. In this Discovery article, the author presents the Delian Problem and suggests teachers ask their students to solve the problem using logic rather than calculators.
Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT). GPO Box 1729, Adelaide 5001, South Australia. Tel: +61-8-8363-0288; Fax: +61-8-8362-9288; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A