Monday, 5 October 2009

The Absence of Applied Geometry

I'm back in the USA this week on emergency leave. My father-in-law is terminally ill and the family is gathering to try to send him off in a way that is appropriate to his status as an Irish father of eleven and a great guy. Along the way I had the chance to be reacquainted with one of my biggest pet peeves, people who haven't learned enough geometry to stand at a baggage carousel. Ok, that seems like almost everyone... maybe math professors are even doing it.

Even before the thing starts to move, they jockey for position and stand as close as they can to the edge, then when it starts to move, they realize they can only see about five feet, so they lean over, one by one, to farther obscure each others view until they can only see about two feet.... but if they all stepped back about three feet, they could see from end to end, know when their bag was coming... and step up and grab it and go... It seems too obvious ... they are so bad at applying simple geometry, you expect them to walk a zig-zag path to customs because they don't intuitively know the shortest route.... Oh well, So long Gil, We love you guy.

1 comment:

Nate said...

Perhaps rather than showing a lack of geometrical intuition, the baggage claim behaviour demonstrates rational (if not optimal) game theory strategies.