Amusements in Mathematics by Henry Ernest Dudeney
Author:Henry Ernest Dudeney [Dudeney, Henry Ernest]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Published: 2005-09-16T16:00:00+00:00
"Surely you must be wrong, George," said Mrs. Allgood, "for if the posts are a hundred yards apart and it is half a mile farther over the hill, you have to put up posts on that extra half-mile."
"Look at the diagram, mother. You will see that the distance from post to post is not the distance from base to base measured along the ground. I am just the same distance from you if I stand on this spot on the carpet or stand immediately above it on the chair."
But Mrs. Allgood was not convinced.
Mr. Smoothly, the curate, at the end of the table, said at this point that he had a little question to ask.
"Suppose the earth were a perfect sphere with a smooth surface, and a girdle of steel were placed round the Equator so that it touched at every point."
"'I'll put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes,'" muttered George, quoting the words of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
"Now, if six yards were added to the length of the girdle, what would then be the distance between the girdle and the earth, supposing that distance to be equal all round?"
"In such a great length," said Mr. Allgood, "I do not suppose the distance would be worth mentioning."
"What do you say, George?" asked Mr. Smoothly.
"Well, without calculating I should imagine it would be a very minute fraction of an inch."
Reginald and Mr. Filkins were of the same opinion.
"I think it will surprise you all," said the curate, "to learn that those extra six yards would make the distance from the earth all round the girdle very nearly a yard!"
"Very nearly a yard!" everybody exclaimed, with astonishment; but Mr. Smoothly was quite correct. The increase is independent of the original length of the girdle, which may be round the earth or round an orange; in any case the additional six yards will give a distance of nearly a yard all round. This is apt to surprise the non-mathematical mind.
"Did you hear the story of the extraordinary precocity of Mrs. Perkins's baby that died last week?" asked Mrs. Allgood. "It was only three months old, and lying at the point of death, when the grief-stricken mother asked the doctor if nothing could save it. 'Absolutely nothing!' said the doctor. Then the infant looked up pitifully into its mother's face and said—absolutely nothing!"
"Impossible!" insisted Mildred. "And only three months old!"
Pg 140"There have been extraordinary cases of infantile precocity," said Mr. Filkins, "the truth of which has often been carefully attested. But are you sure this really happened, Mrs. Allgood?"
"Positive," replied the lady. "But do you really think it astonishing that a child of three months should say absolutely nothing? What would you expect it to say?"
"Speaking of death," said Mr. Smoothly, solemnly, "I knew two men, father and son, who died in the same battle during the South African War. They were both named Andrew Johnson and buried side by side, but there was some difficulty in distinguishing them on the headstones.
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