“360” is open for debate

mullet over

– Paris is often referred to as the City of Light (La Ville Lumière). The reason for the designation is not entirely clear. One common claim is that the tag was originally short for “City of Enlightenment” and was in reference to the municipality’s profusion of progressive ideas. However, some historians contend a more likely cause for the sobriquet occurred in 1828 as the city began nightly illuminating its famous Champs-Elysées using natural gas lamps. Either way, Paris is a marvelous city. Some meals do seem a bit pricey ($46 for one lunch). However, I can now say that I had Lunch Back of Notre Dame. Okay, I apologize.

– Passengers on the International Space Station employ an innovative technique for trash disposal. Refuse is tightly bundled and set adrift. Gravity and air friction team to ignite the ill-fated packet, eventually leaving very little waste intact. Decades ago my folks had a “special” neighbor near our rural farm. He employed a similar disposal method. He would toss his scraps on a pile not far from his dwelling. However, the trash did not simply ignite and leave behind a miniscule residue. Predominant winds blew much of our neighbor’s discard west and south, which was pretty much in the direction of my family’s modest land parcel. Guess which future column writer inherited the task of gathering and disposing of Mr. _______’s garbage. Likely built character, maybe.

– ‘Way back in 150 A.D., a Greek-Egyptian mathematician named Claudius Ptolemy mapped his observable sky onto a globe. Ptolemy divided the longitude sections into 360 parts (now called degrees) and each degree into 60 parts (now called minutes). Each minute was divided into 60 seconds. Why the number “360” is open for debate. He was surely aware that the earth’s year was about 365.25 days in length. Claudius was a proponent of the geocentric concept which held Earth to be the center of our solar system. In the 16th century, Polish astronomer Copernicus and others disproved the geocentric concept which had been beheld as absolute fact for more than 1400 years.

– The American state with the longest shoreline is Alaska (6,640 mi.) Coming in at #2 is Florida (1350 mi.) and #3 California tallies 840 mi.

– In 1966, a hurricane named Faith carried its destructive forces over a pathway that measured 6,850 miles in length — a maximum for recorded history. Well, do not do anything important based on the geocentric theory, yet somehow have a great week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at jkwhite46@gmail.com.

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