This Paper Calculator Adds Via a Series of Tubes

Image: YouTube/Numberphile
Image: YouTube/Numberphile

Human beings have always created tools for calculating numbers, from the ancient abacus to today’s electronic calculators. But here’s an ingenious calculator drawn on paper—the creation of comic book artist Jason Shiga. And he and the folks at Numberphile have created an explanatory video of how it works.


It’s basically a simple binary system using 0s and 1s. Shiga has created a maze like series of tubes to perform the basic calculations. At various points, the user must make a choice—0 or 1—by turning over (or not turning over) a flap. Those flaps will either connect or block certain pathways later on in the maze. Adding 1 + 1, for instance, ultimately gets you the answer 1-0, or the binary code for 2.

Apparently this is part of a larger project Shiga is working on involving a mathematical approach to comic books. More videos have been promised, and we eagerly await their debut.

[Mental Floss]

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Icecold Davis

You know what else is a series of tubes