online 15 september 2003

12 september 2003 inside the picture

17:48 The heath - I've not been here for a week and I'm enjoying the relative silence - and the relatively long distances between people - from 50 to 100 metres. I wonder what the world population would be if people were this far apart? I suspect it might be more than the present 6.5 billion but there is not enough data in my memory to attempt an approximate calculation (I don't know the area of the land though I suppose it's about a fifth of the earth's surface).

This is a cool sunny evening without wind. The shadows are already long. I can see a copper beech looking strange among the hundreds of trees with green leaves, some already yellow. The scene is almost as still as a painting - but it's three-dimensional and includes each person looking at it if you enlarge the assumed picture frame to infinity, at which moment objectivity begins to vanish and a new conception of reality begins: inclusive of everyone.

Next day:
As I wrote that sentence I was imagining/perceiving the foreground extending towards me, and on behind my back, and finding an indescribable hiatus as my presence and my perceiving becomes part of the picture, the whole... and then an enormous complexity as the varied perceptions of other people in the scene also become part of it... to refuse to take account of this mystery (or unthinkability?) is to accept a reductionism, a narrowing of reality, so called.

I like such thinking, it is much part of myself and of those who think likewise and say so. Not many perhaps at this moment.

*area of earth's land surface is about 150,000,000 square km = about 30% of the earth's surface area.

source: Daniel Chen's data in Glen Elert's hypertextbook

If people are 100m apart there are 100 per square km.
Total number in 150 million square km = 100 times 15 million = 15 billion.
This is about twice the present population of 6.5 billion (if I haven't made a mistake?).

If we omit the 60% of the land that is under snow, or mountainous, or desert, my wished for distance between people would barely accommodate the present population... but as I calculated I realised how ridiculous are the assumptions I was obliged to make! That is what puts me off applied mathematics although I know it can work well when the assumptions are realistic.

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