Monday, April 25, 2005

Not for Disputing Boundaries

On my desk at work sits a globe that is all of 3 or 4 inches in diameter, with the North and South poles made of metal; the globe sits suspended in air between a wooden base with a metal pole that magnetizes when plugged into an outlet. The globe is made in China, and it has this written smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean: "For Toy and Ornament Only, Not for Disputing the Boundaries."

Gotta love that disclaimer. This must be the second production run of the globe, as the company no doubt discovered the problems of not having that disclaimer in place by creating several bloody international border disputes. I'm sure the Jews and the Palestinians, the Indians and the Pakistanis, and other border foes had flare ups due to inaccurately drafted boundaries on a 3 inch globe. But the really funny part is that all of Asia is one color and bears only the name of China. (Actually, that's just a lame joke, but in fact Hong Kong and Taiwan are the same color as China).

For all of you math fans out there, I'm sure I am not telling you anything you don't already know when I say that there are only four colors used for all of the countries, with no two bordering countries sharing the same color. It takes no more than four colors to achieve that result, which was apparently theorized long before it was elaborately and arduously (if memory serves me well) proved. It's a great example of a simple theorem in math where it is easy to understand what the theorem says, to the point where a child can understand the claim, but the proof is extremely complex, to the point where you need to the Giant to understand it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The GIANT rules.

8:35 PM  
Blogger pbryon said...

I don't believe the theory was ever proved. I think it was intelligent design.

6:12 AM  

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