How Many Holes Does a Straw Have?

How many holes does a straw have? What constitutes a hole? This week, I turned to members of the Wheaton community with the question: “Does a straw have one hole or two?” There are good arguments on both ends, and yes, pun intended. There is even a third argument that claims straws don’t have holes, which might be more accurate than it seems. 

The results of surveying 16 members of the Wheaton community are as follows: 56 percent of people claim that a straw has one hole, 38 percent claim that a straw has two, and 6 percent claim that a straw has no holes whatsoever. 

To begin, I will present some arguments in favor of a straw having one hole. Nicole Janerio ’23 said, “one of course [a straw has one hole], no wait, it’s a canal…” In all honesty, I am not sure where the canal argument was about to go, but she does seem to support the one hole theory. 

Kim Dugan ’22 brought the argument in a more mathematical direction, claiming that “[a straw] only [has] one [hole], because it is a torus, and a torus is a shape that has one hole and can be shaped into a bunch of different things if you theoretically stretched it” 

To best understand this argument, look at one example of a torus in the image provided, and imagine if that shape, which has what mathematically would be considered one hole, were elongated to the length of a straw. That elongated straw shape would have only one hole. 

In defense of the two-hole argument, some Wheaton community members seemed shocked at the proposition that a straw could have anything, but two holes. Guthrie Hartsfield ’23 exclaimed, “They have two holes!!! I didn’t know anyone thought they had one!” 

Liz Eaton ’22, seconding Guthrie’s level of surprise, didn’t even bother to provide a number and simply retorted, “Do you consider your mouth and butthole to be two separate holes or one?” After hearing that, I clearly put her down for the two-hole theory.

In further support of the two-hole theory, Katie Farley ’22 claimed that “[A straw has] two [holes]. It’s like a tunnel.” It’s important to keep in mind that this argument also implies that a tunnel has two holes. Julia Warren, ’23, supports this argument by claiming, “[A straw has] two [holes], because even though it’s only one tube, there are two openings.” One may say that defining a straw as only one tube while also claiming it still has two holes is contradictory. Maybe it is but, this brings me to my next point:  what even constitutes a hole in the first place? Is the word “hole” simply synonymous with “opening” or does it have a different meaning? 

If “hole” can be defined purely as an opening, then perhaps a straw does have two holes. If a hole is defined mathematically, like a torus shape, then a straw has one hole. Yet, if a hole is similar to what one may dig in the sand at the beach, then the third claim, “Straws don’t have holes” (Eva Danielson ’22), is correct.

After conducting some personal research, I have come to the conclusion that a straw is definitely a Torus. Therefore, if a Torus has one hole, a straw has one hole. However, I am unsure, if a Torus is the only thing that constitutes a hole. In the end, the number of holes a straw has is all relative in relation to the definition of a “hole.” So sadly, I am leaving this article open-ended, because there are too many holes in the reasoning.