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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Straight and the Winding

I was watching this video about how Euclidean geometry doesn’t apply to the world as we experience. Apparently this is so because fundamentally it is impossible to draw a straight line. Another book, that I have only partially read because the mathematics spilled out of my head after the 7th page, states that there was no need for Euclid to make the assumption that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. It goes on to state that the shortest distance between two points is always a curved line because the space itself is curved. As my universe started crumbling down with this revelation, I decided to vehemently protest but was stopped in my tracks by a footnote which quoted Einstein’s theory of relativity as a reference. Somehow, if you can throw in his name, many a weird things become plausible including big bangs, parallel universes, multi-dimensions, Gambling Gods, bushy moustaches, romantic physicists etc. etc. The only known competitor to Einstein is probably Religion.

But then again, have you ever tried walking straight from point A to point B? It is not too difficult if there are no distractions. Such a setting could be the 100m dash at the Olympics. Of course, the idea is to run the shortest distance possible to the finish line if you want to win the race. For simplicity sake (And for Euclid’s sake; May he remain peacefully and eternally dead), lets assume that the shortest distance is indeed a straight line. Let’s now move to a more real world setting. A shopping mall, for instance. Have you ever noticed how people walk around in a mall? I have. Not out of choice but because my office is situated right on top of one of those things.

You have got to understand that I am not prejudiced. It is just that when I get out of my office and inside the mall to get my lunch, I walk with a purpose and energy and it is my mindset that clashes with the aimless zombies that mar my way. We could be the best of friends at any other given time but at that particular moment, I simply thank my stars that guns, knives or for that matter weapons of mass destruction, are frowned upon in this country. There is a good possibility that I might have gone trigger-happy otherwise.

An average shopper (if you could call them that since they are all extreme outliers and they hardly seem to shop) is a fierce combination of being decidedly indecisive and resolutely unyielding. They are like the walking dead or barely walking (take your pick) who seem to suffer from the same lack of direction as a leaf in a whirlwind. But unlike a leaf, they simply wouldn’t give way. Not if you request, not if you holler, not if you stomp, not if you were driving a fire truck with the sirens blaring and if you were to viciously open the hose.

Further, they seem to have a type of randomness to their moves that will defy the results of an unbiased coin toss carried on indefinitely. Even a series of coin tosses will eventually follow some sort of a statistical distribution (I think so anyway) but not a selection of shoppers whether or not they are in the same group. In fact, shoppers who shop in a group add a whole new dimension to the term Catastrophe. They act like a bunch of ants pulling their load in different directions but that is where the similarity ends as unlike the ants, no larger force prevails to guide their movements. The resultant unpredictable chaos could make for a study in paranormal occurrence beyond the realm of human understanding.

To be fair, sometimes a pattern does emerge and the packs of zombies start to behave more like a herd gathered around some new attraction that more often than not consists of skimpily clad girls selling the latest perfume till stock lasts or an emcee pretending that he has something profound to holler about. But those are rare exceptions to an otherwise mind-boggling myriad of floating undeads the movements of which when plotted on a chart would put quantum analysts to test and might even cause the discovery of a radical new theory which should be aptly named The Special Theory of the Shopping malls and Rats therein. One of the key statistics of such a theory has to be the average KMs travelled by a given shopper in any given visit to a given mall which when stretched out on a straight line could reach halfway to moon.



Dudette said...

Yes, on a globe, the distance from one point to another is always curved and not flat. But Euclid failed to consider the curvature of space. Einstein used non-Euclidean geometry to describe spacetime which states when a body revolves around another body, it appears to move in a curved path due to gravity, but it is actually moving along a geodesic, without any force acting on it. It may also interest you to know that if spacetime does happen to have an overall positive curvature, then the universe will cease to expand after a certain amount of time and then begin to contract resulting in a Big Crunch versus the Big Bang that resulted in its creation.

By the way why do I feel this post is a rant. Aint you taking trivia way too seriously? Dude just snap out of it or divert your mind. And... stop blaming Euclid for people not being able to walk straight and bumping into you.

If unlike you, they're wandering around in malls without an aim (or 'without a purpose' in life for that matter) then its their problem. Being aimless may be their way of life.

umm, shooting would have been my favorite sport too but I dont think I would kill anyone for not walking straight. So chill :)

Dudette said...

pls excuse the verbosity of my comment, couldnt help ;)

Anonymous said...

what is surprising is that there is a crowd, despite your are losing your touch...the next thing i hear could be that you won a popularity contest!!!

Anonymous said... seem to be frustrated about something....chill and get a life...!!!

Beta said...

Dudette/ anonymous - thanks for your concern. All my posts are vaguely pointless. My frustration, if anything, is how to respond if you judge me by this blog.

Tambi - the repellant charm is wearing off. Sad. Although a popularity contest is still far away but I think I better catch you in action to learn new tricks.

Annoymously said...

Wow. Who needs enemies, when you have friends like these? :)

Fun post yet again. Good to know not everyone is descending into lighter reads as in my case.

Look on the bright side, your vantage point could make you the next Seth Godin!

Must say B'bay here has turned into the city of malls too.

Anonymous said...

freaky-geeky-psycho kinda write up... u do come across as an intelligenta and well read writer.... but over intelligence can be killing... and yeah...u cant take criticism ... can u!!

Beta said...

Annoy - Lighter reads - Tell me about it. I am struggling with Lord of the Rings and that is supposed to be easy read !!!

Anonymous - Add a massive self-sustaining ego to that list of swear words you used too :-))...But, point taken, boy.

Anonymous said...

massive egos are only self -destructive.Amusingly the comments were more fun to read than the blog itself and could not restraint from writing one myself :)

Annoymously said...

That's a nice world to lose yourself in. The first of the trilogy was the easiest read for me, and the last one, most tedious. Can't remember now if I even finished it...