Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Shortest Distance Between Two Points

"The only difference between Dali and a madman is that I am not mad." ~Salvador Dali

Before heading to the Dali Museum at the end of 2011 I wanted to be sure I remembered how to get there, so I checked out Google Maps for the correct exit to reach 398 5th Ave SE, Saint Petersburg, FL. The beltway around Tampa Bay is Highway 275. The exit you need goes onto Highway 175.

What intrigued me about this map, however, was that Highway 175 is but a few blocks long. Because of its brevity it seemed strange to call it a highway. At the time I almost wrote a blog entry about it titled, "The Shortest Highway In America." But then I considered some facts about the matter.

First, is it really the shortest highway in America? And second, how long is it, exactly?

If my math experience serves me well, this little road just happens to be the shortest distance between two points, or in math lingo, it is a line from point A to point B. But, according to math theory if you cut the line in half into two equidistant line segments, each one in itself would be composed of an infinite number of points because by definition if you keep cutting the segments into halves, you can keep cutting them into smaller and smaller sections forever because between any two points is an infinite number of points.

In short, I concluded that this small stretch of highway is the same length as Route 66, from Chicago to L.A.

It's easy, then to see why the Greeks had such a problem with the concept of infinity. It can turn common sense into nonsense, just like a lot of our government's laws and regulations today. How tall is a mountain of red tape? Don't ask, because you just don't want to go there.

In the meantime, I believe I'm reaching the end of my rope. I think I've made my point.

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