CSC = Children's Story China
Weighing the Elephant
A Chinese scholar Chen left China in the mid 600 A.D. His destination was Nalanda Monastery in Bihar, India. The monastery was a huge campus with more than a thousand monks. Chen reaching the monastery was accepted as the resident monk. It took him ten years to master Sanskrit, Buddhist studies, Vedas, medicine and arithmetic. On his way back, he had elephants, horses and donkeys to carry manuscripts via the caravan-track in central Asia. He deposited his manuscripts in the Temple of Great Happiness.
He presented the elephants to the king.
The king’s family had some trepidation to go near the elephants, because they were massive, flailed their trunks every which way they can and had the habit of blessing the people with their trunks by touching the people’s crown. Chen and the Indian mahout explained to the king’s family that the behavior of the elephants was normal and they should not have any fear of going near the elephants and be touched by them. The royal carpenters built a cushioned howdah (a carriage on the back of the elephant for sitting) for each elephant. The king’s warriors rode the elephant sitting on the howdah to make sure they were comfortable for the king’s family. Thereafter, the king’s family, including the children rode the elephants with no fear.
People in China never saw an elephant in that part of China until these two elephants arrived with Buddhist manuscripts.
The elephants were paraded on the main streets of the city and led to the public square. The people buzzed with excitement after the royal guests departed. No one had ever seen anything like these enormous creatures. The mandarins marveled at its size, comparing it to water buffaloes and even rhinos. But the question remained: how could they weigh the elephant accurately?
The Emperor challenged his mandarins to find a solution. The first mandarin, a former animal trader and healer, suggested using a scale. However, the Emperor dismissed the idea, knowing that no scale could bear the weight of an elephant without breaking.
Next, the second mandarin, a royal tailor and drapery maker for the king, proposed measuring the elephant. But the Emperor pointed out that measuring every part wouldn’t reveal its total weight.
Then came the third mandarin, a royal chef de cuisine and baker, with an outlandish plan: cut up the elephant and cook it! Outraged, the Emperor rejected this idea outright.
Just when it seemed impossible, the Emperor’s young son spoke up, after consultation with his younger sister. Despite being told he should be in bed; the boy playing with the toy elephants with his hands confidently shared his plan. “Put the elephant in a big boat,” he said, “and take it out on the water.” He had seen a coat of algae covering the hull of the boat at the waterline.
The Emperor raised an eyebrow and gave him a quizzical look. “Why would we do that? It’ll float away, and we won’t be any closer to weighing it.The boat will drift and the elephant may sink if the boat turns turtle” The king did not know at that time that an elephant, despite its size, can swim using the trunk as a snorkeler.
The boy explained: “Draw a line on the loaded boat  (hull) where it meets the water—the watermark. Bring the boat back to shore, remove the elephant, and place rocks in the boat one by one until it sinks to the same watermark. Then weigh the stones (rocks) individually. Add up their weight, and you’ll know how much the elephant weighs!” (Children, now you may ask how many stones did the elephant weigh?)  Stone = 14 lbs. (British)
The court erupted in praise of the prince and the princess. The prince and his sister gave them an appreciative nod. The clever plan worked, and the Emperor’s son and daughter gained fame throughout the land. And so, by thinking outside the box, they solved the mystery of the elephant’s weight without harming the majestic creature.
And that, my friend, is how the Emperor’s son and daughter became heroes in ancient China!
To find the weight of water displaced, you need to: 1. Determine the volume of the displaced water. 2. Multiply the volume of the displaced water by the density of water at the relevant temperature to determine its weight. The definition of density (d) is mass (m) divided by volume (v), so the mass of the displaced fluid can be expressed as m = dv. 3. The weight of the displaced fluid can be expressed as W = ρVg, where ρ is the density of the fluid, V is the volume of the fluid displaced, and g is acceleration due to gravity.