Well, that is what I imagine a friendly bet over beer in the middle ages would look like. Let us say two vikings taking a break after some invading of Europe. Not that things have changed that much. We still have silly bar bets over the sizes of *ahem*…
So after some potato bliss, I had to think at great length about how to introduce some other elementary (in the sense of being fundamental, not easy) physics concepts. You see, it is hard to talk about physics without the three basic elementary irreducible concepts: mass, length, time.
Oh yeah! I know, time is what clocks measure. Yes! And length is what meter sticks measure! Yeah! (Don’t tell Einstein that I stole his quotes.)
So this post will be about length. And it will be a lengthy post. And just because it’s long I’m warning you now.
How do you use the length concept? Oh yes. When your children grow, you go through this ritual of writing how tall they are with a pencil on the wall. Then they see how much they have grown. In the Olympics, you see how high people can jump, how long they can jump, but I’ve never seen the third dimension used in an essential way for an Olympic sport, like who can walk with the widest stick? There’s an idea! You also use it to describe how big your house is. Children love to play the game “My house is bigger than yours”, which starts looking awfully close to those silly bar bets. Actually, I think adults also like playing that game a lot, at least some people in my town do.
The other occasion you use it is when you are redesigning your bathrooms and you find out that the beautiful sink you ordered is too large and it does not fit. Because if you had measured, you would have avoided the whole trouble of having to speak with a representative on the phone. Because you had to return it and get something that actually fits and is not as nice and as a matter of fact you would have saved a whole lot of time.
Having length lets you ask all of these interesting questions like “how long is your boat?” (very useful when you are in a yacht club), or “what is your clothes size?” (I get asked that a lot in some stores when I ask for help). You can even ask more important questions like “how far was that dart from the center of the dartboard?”, which also happens when the beer is flowing.
You can also have derived concepts like area, which is useful when you are trying to build a swimming pool and you find that your backyard is too small, or you are trying to cordon some space to put a blanket when you are watching a fireworks display. Eventually you can also talk about volumes. Like,
“how many gallons of fuel do I need to fill my tank?” (An ever growing anxiety considering the princes of fuel) and my favorite:how much beer can this tankard hold?
All of this has a fancy name. It is called geometry. I think it comes from geo (earth) and metro (measure, not subway). And I can confess that I knew that before I checked the wikipedia article.
This has been a long post and I need a beer.