Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I've never been particularly interested in calculaing the circumference of the earth, or even math for that matter (I primarily work in theatre), yet I found myself leafing through "The Librarian Who Measured the Earth." Not exactly a riveting title, but by the time I got to the end (~16 pages), I was captivated. Using a well, a long stick and the sun, Eratosthenese (born in North Africa over 2000 years ago) was not only able to measure the distance to the center of the earth, but also accurately calculate the circumference of the earth.
As technology improved, his calculation held up, and it turns out he was accurate to within 200 miles. Not a bad margin of error considering the earth's circumference is 25,000 miles. So why was I so interested? I guess because this was such elegant thinking. It showed true ingenuity and resourcefulness; attributes I would like to cultivate in myself and my children. And I liked the author's dedication:
"To all the children who dare to ask questions and continue to wonder."
It makes me want to be a kid again : )