Estimation and Geometry

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 10.13.57 AMThis afternoon, I got into a discussion about why I spend more for milk and eggs certified as produced in Connecticut. In order to do so, I had to rely on geometry.

“Look,” I said, “Connecticut is just about 100 miles wide from east to west, and about fifty miles wide from north to south.  I know it has that weird little tail in the southwest corner, but let’s call it a box, with more or less right-angle corners, and leave it at that.”

“Ok,” said my conversation partner.

“So that means 100 x 100 equals 10,000.  And 50 x 50 is 2500.  So 12,500 square miles should be c-squared.”

“You mean the Pythagorean theorem.”

“Right. And … please don’t make me find the square root of 12,500 in my head…” fumble with calculator… “that’s 111.8.  SO none of these eggs and none of this milk is produced more than 112 miles away from us.”

“As the crow flies.”

“As the crow flies, right. Though some of these roads are pretty twisty,” I said.

“You realize we’re going to pay a lot more for eggs and milk, now, right?”

“Yes. And it will be especially more delicious because it won’t have sat in a storage facility for weeks.”

(And the closest road-to-road comparison I can find on Google Maps says that it’s about 137 miles northwest to southeast, and 144 miles southwest to northeast.)

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