Wednesday, April 22, 2009
No Comprende, It's a Riddle
I know, I know. It's math, right? So I'm not surprised that it has recently come to light that the original 1868 survey of the Four Corners – the only place in the United States where four state boundaries come together – is off by 2.5 miles.
According to readings by the National Geodetic Survey, today's official marker is supposed to sit at blah-blah-blah W longitude and yada-yada-yada N latitude. But according to three different Internet sites for distance calculations (including an FCC site and GPS visualizer) the really real readings actually stand at yeah-yeah-yeah; alrighty-then; and whatever-man-I-believe-you miles.
Then, most likely thanks to all that Red Bull and Doritoes he's spent years consuming down in his parents' basement, some smarty-pants member of the Utah Association of Geocachers used two other Internet sites, Google Earth and the Great Circle Calculator, resulting in a definite determination of a 2.5 mile miscalculation.
Makes you wonder what else we've miscalculated over the past couple hundred years, right? Then again, I'm not really surprised we got it wrong. It's a wonder we could even locate our own feet in 1868, much less anything else using, what, a pencil, piece of paper, and our fingers? Okay, so maybe an abacus was involved there somewhere.
Or maybe, just maybe, the original survey had someone like me along:
Intrepid U.S. Geologic Surveyor Dude #1: Okay, guys, I know it's late and we're all tired, but let's check these calculations one more time. Future generations are counting on us to get this right.
Intrepid U.S. Geologic Surveyor Dude #2: Hey, Moi! (whistles). Get back here and get with the program. We don't need you getting lost again.
Moi: Oh, come on. This is way too hard, and I just broke a nail. How do we know any of these number thingees are correct anyway? Calculators haven't even been invented yet. What do you say we just mark this spot right here, call it a day, and go pound down some brewskies at Ye Olde Tavern down the road? I'm buying.
Still, what to do? There is hardly a family in America that doesn't have tucked away somewhere in an album or fraying cardboard box, a photo of themselves frolicking on the official Four Corners Monument.
Therefore, according to an article in Desert News:
"There's little chance of moving the monument, especially because millions of dollars have been spent to improve it and because the current state lines have been firmly established now for 110 years."
There you go, folks. Commerce first.