Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mathematical memory: triangulating the distance across the Kalum River

Image from mwpr

Fisherman's Memorial Park marks the confluence of the green Kalum with the Skeena. Long ago, at the behest of my Grade 11 Math teacher, I stood on the bank near this bridge and calculated the distance across the river. I wanted to measure the Skeena, but it was too wide. In order to use triangulation, I had to select and keep my eye on a particular tree on the forested bank opposite.

I have another memory of the Kalum River. During one spring flood, I was standing on the bank with my brother, watching the roiling river. I turned away for a moment, and heard him mutter. "Rats!" But his voice was coming from too low down. I looked back and saw that his head had disappeared from shoulder height and reappeared at waist height. The bank had given way under him, and he was scrabbling at the willows in an effort to clamber out of the muddy water.

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