Definition of "species"

Kenelm Philip fnkwp at
Sat Sep 8 23:53:42 EDT 2001

	Martin Bailey made a few statements I take issue with:

> Where I live on the flat prairie they put zigs in the roads going
> straight north/south.  We call them correction lines.  You see, the Earth
> is curved and roads that would go endlessly in straight lines don't work.

Those zigs may result from the peculiarities of the township/range system.
Remember that the lines dividing sections do not run true N-S or true E-W.
As a matter of actual fact, the shortest distance on the earth's surface
between two points that are due north/south of each other _is_ a line (with
no zigs in it) running due north/south. This is also a great circle.

> where on a clear day you can see 32 miles to the horizon.

In flat country, or on water, the distance to the horizon in statute miles
is 1.32 times the square root of the distance of your eyes above the
ground/water in feet. This holds for normal conditions of atmospheric
refeaction--there will be exceptions during inversions or times when the
surface is heated. So, if your eyes are 6 feet above the ground/water, your
horizon is 3.2 miles away, not 32. Decimal point error?

> The daily weather report giving the temperature in Fahrenheit (only in
> America) or Celius uses a zero point that ain't zero

Zero is the dividing point between positive and negative. If you think zero
has to also convey some higher degree of the absence of everything, then
you must have real problems with Greenwich being at zero longitude, or
mean sea level being at zero elevation. And just to make things even more
interesting, there is a possible variation on the Kelvin temperature scale
that puts 'absolute zero' at minus infinity. These decisions are arbitrary,
and do not reflect unarguable aspects of the natural world. Just like
species...  :-)

							Ken Philip
fnkwp at


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