Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Couple Talks about the Volume of the Truncated Cone

On June 7, my wife and I joined a bus trip to Exhibition of Paintings from State Pushkin Museum and Flower Festival Commemorative Park. We had lunch at a French restaurant, whose building was a nationally designated Important Cultural Property. At the lunch table, a couple younger than my wife and I took the seats in front of us. Let's call them Mr. and Ms. N. A glass containing water from the well of the restaurant and some ice cubes was prepared for each person from the beginning of the lunch course (see the photo above).

At some stage of the lunch course, Mr. N took the glass and asked Ms. N if she could guess how to calculate the volume of the solid of such a form. She said, "Add a small cone to make it a large cone. Calculate the volume of the large cone and subtract the volume of the small cone from it." Mr. N replied that it would be very cumbersome. Then, he said that the volume can be obtained as the mean of volumes of three cylinders having the same height as the solid. His voice was so low that I was unable to hear the radii of the three solids, but from the movement of his hands, I supposed that he referred to the radii of the top and bottom circles of the truncated cone and a certain mean of the two. He additionally stated that we could obtain the formula by integration of the circular area.

I had never heard of the formula for the volume of the truncated cone, and thought it wonderful that Mr. N learned it and remembered it for some reason. However, I also wondered why he who spoke of a more complex method of integration said that his wife's simpler method was cumbersome. After returning home, I calculated the volume by Ms. N's method and easily found that the third radius mentioned by Mr. N was the geometric mean of the radii of the top and bottom circles.

To see the formula and the derivation of it, visit here. The explanation is in Japanese, but readers might easily follow equations by looking at a diagram included. The third method mentioned there by the use of Pappus-Guldin theorem (also known as Pappus' centroid theorem; the second theorem is relevant here), however, might be a little difficult to understand, if you have never heard of that theorem.

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