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The Square's Circle?

We know that mathematics teachers are winners...and that they have many talents. However, you rarely see them using these talents in competitive situations.

Alexander Overwijk, a mathematics teacher at the Glebe Collegiate Institute in Canada, is different. On a video recently released on the internet, Overwijk claims that he holds the title of World Freehand Circle Drawing Champion, being able to draw a perfect freehand circle (1 meter in diameter) in less than a second. And, without the benfit of steroids!

To see his impressive results, consider this video on YouTube.I cannot find any other information online about the World Freehand Circle Drawing Championship, but note that an internet search will lead to many people's video responses to Overwijk's peformance (be forewarned that some of the efforts are off-base and at times quite vulgar).

Another interesting aspect of Overwijk's video was the many verbal comments posted...3,917 at last count on YouTube alone...plus thousands more on other video sites and in blogs. Though the majority of these comments cannot be repeated in public, some are quite interesting:

  • Why draw a circle? Triangles is what's in right now
  • What if we were to tell you that there's actually no such thing as a circle. It's really made up of many very tiny... lines. Straight ones...
  • Theres a saying that goes, the closer you are to drawing a perfect circle, the closer you are to insanity competitive
  • Wow, he does that in his spare time? That's an impressive ability but I think it reveals alot about his social life
  • Beyond skill. I read this short story of a Chinese master who desired a great masterpiece created in his honor. Searching far and wide for the best artists and craftsmen, they traveled far and wide to bring examples of their works. None impressed the master until a lone man walked in holding nothing. "What can you show me, you have nothing?" the master said. Silently he drew a perfect circle and was chosen. As this is probably the hardest technique to achieve. Flawless, simple & refined.
  • And to think of all those years I wasted drawing perfect ovals
  • Actually you wouldn't be able to see a perfect circle because a circle is one dimensional and one dimensional things don't exist...
  • I just about cried tears of happiness when I saw this
  • ...isn't it a cylinder because the chalk actually has a height?
  • Awesome, now when the aliens land and demand that one of us produce for them a "perfect circle" this dude will step forward and save all of humanity
  • "31.5 In order to define what the metric for a perfect circle is (and to avoid past controversy, including the murder of Charles Argrabian at the 1929 World Circle Drawing Championship), the Circle Drawing Consortium has come up with the following set of guidelines that must be followed in all sanctioned tournaments.
    [31.5a] Once the contestant has drawn his circle and declared aloud "The circle is complete," draw a horizontal chord through the circle whose line passes through the midpoint between the extreme top and bottom parts of the circle.
    [31.5b] Secondary judges must check the validity of this chord by both using a level to ensure its horizontal state and double-checking that the chord does indeed pass through the midpoint between the circle's top and bottom edges.
    [31.5c] Once the secondary judges are satisfied with the state of the chord, use the midpoint of the chord just drawn as the needle's base. Trace the compass around the circle and record the maximum number of cm the contestant's circle line deviates from the compass' line. The lower the maximum cm deviation, the more perfect the circle is."
    [31.5c.II] If at any point a secondary judge notices that an increase in maximum deviation has not been noted by a primary judge, he may raise a yellow flag to indicate that the last 0.19 radians have been called into question and should be re-checked. If the flag has not been raised within the prescribed 0.19 radians, the secondary judge may no longer call the primary judge's measurements into question."
    -- Taken from the World Circle Drawing Championship Handbook, circa 1932. I hope this helps you in your quest for defining a perfect circle.
My thanks to Maggie J. for first sharing this video link with me.