A moo point, basically …

Arbit/ Random

How about uncomplicating Geometry

with 6 comments

Warning: Slightly geeky post. Might end up being slightly more geeky than ‘slightly geeky’.

It was back in those days, when ancient history was current affairs; when pigs had just sprouted wings (yes, swine flew); when the Indian cricket team was eternally underachieving and when the English football team was hugely overrated. This was when I was about nine, although not much seems to have changed since.

Anyhoo – I used to walk to school back then, a nice little 20 minute trudge with my lil’ sis yakking away, both of us discussing with equal ease a range of topics from problems afflicting humankind to the weird dressing sense of some of our teachers.

Our standard route to school was as follows –

path

My building was not a funny piece of architecture, my MS Paint skills are a wee bit limited.

I was quite fascinated by the fact that, just by taking the diagonal through the vacant lot, I could cut down on my distance quite substantially. This led me to hypothesize that, for any given triangle, if a, b, c are the lengths of its sides, then always,

a < b+c, etc.

As obvious as this may seem to some now, my nine year old mind found it immensely gratifying that I had proven this by using, of all things, unused land. I promptly went and told this to my teacher, who:

1. Asked me to curb my enthusiasm as this was not really that path-breaking a discovery. Some greek guy had already postulated this a very long time ago. This, btw, is one of the reasons why I sometimes crib about being born so late in history- all the simple things have already been discovered, so now all your efforts are just an increment/ improvement on existing stuff. Or you need to come up with something too radical. Damn.

2. Put me down for my arrogance and called me delusional and fairly full of myself for actually believing that I was the first person ever to have figured this out. She didn’t particularly like me and thought that I was an insufferable smart-ass because I wasn’t humble enough after scoring well in class. Clearly, my childhood was fairly traumatic.

3. Told me that I needed to prove stuff in geometry with something more substantial than arbitrary lots.

Rebukes 1 and 2 would had surely pushed me into depression – thankfully, I was never particularly fond of this ma’am, so I didn’t get too worked up about her comments. Plus she talked in a weird way too, not that it is relevant here, but still …

However, in response to point 3, I took out a rubber band I happened to have in my pocket; stretched it out around my thumb and forefinger; and pointed it out to her that, just by stretching out one side, I could recreate any triangle. The fact that I had to stretch the band implied that the length had increased. Clearly, a is, indeed, less than b + c.

stretch

She then asked me (ordered, rather) that I should not bother myself with stuff which was ‘out of syllabus.’

It took me four long years after this incident to be  ‘completely equipped with the requisite techniques’ to prove this inequality. The proof (here, if you are actually interested) is nice, but it is as boring as you expect geometry proofs to be.

So how about uncomplicating Geometry?

This post is a result of two things: the daily five minute walk I take from my office complex entrance to my workplace, and this piece titled ‘Do dogs know Calculus?‘ (alternate link here) that I read a few days ago (via Boiledbeans)

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Written by sujaybedekar

August 24, 2009 at 10:23 am

Posted in arbit

Tagged with , , , ,

6 Responses

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  1. Now if you could spin off a revolutionist film from the incident, we might just try to reform the educational boards 😛

    Taking shortcuts across empty lots, watching water turn into silver spheres on a rough leaf (forgot the name of the plant, sadly), throwing ink drops into the clear water in storm drains during rains… we all could learn something from the things we do as kids.

    Rohit

    August 25, 2009 at 9:05 am

    • Sigh – oh how I agree with you on that!

      sujaybedekar

      August 25, 2009 at 10:46 am

  2. Great post! Feynman would be proud of you.

    MojoJojo

    August 25, 2009 at 10:33 am

    • Whoa! That’s a bit extreme 😀
      Although truth be told, I _am_ actually joking a bit here … 🙂

      sujaybedekar

      August 25, 2009 at 11:29 pm

  3. broken link… the dog post

    parijat

    August 25, 2009 at 7:54 pm


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