Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A glimpse of my dorktastic inner life

Readers of Why Won't You Grow?! probably think I'm insanely good looking, popular, fabulous in EVERY. . . SINGLE . . . WAY.

(And why wouldn't you? It's all in the writing and my inner beliefs about myself are sure to shine through over time.)

But it was not always thus . . .

I was, once, a massive dork . . . a geek you might say.

Here is some proof, via a rare email exchange between myself and my old hometown friend and former college roommate (but not the scary, psycho one)--G. He's a fellow blogger as well and an all around good egg. I don't keep in touch with him like I should, but I am always checking out his site, hoping for something new.

(I should hasten to point out that by including him in the general tone of this post, you might think I am describing him as a geek, but careful readers will see that he is being creative with a math problem and turned to the geekiest person he could think of to solve the particular problem he was attempting to solve. Naturally, he thought of me . . . which is my point--I'm a dork, but I'm loud and I'm proud.

(G's first email was:)

At some point this past week, I was putting problem on the board that had to do with triangulating the location of a fire. In part of the problem, I said (and wrote) that the two towers are 8 km apart (or whatever). So I immediately (in my head) themed this problem in Lord of the Rings.

I thought it would be fun to put such a problem on their next test. So, how much of your Tolkein world trivia do you remember? Any good details such as, well, how far apart the Two Towers are? Traveling distance between? Average land speed of a hobbit? Stuff I might conceivably use in an algebra/trig problem?


(To which I replied, later that evening:)

After consulting my atlas (Karen Wynn Fonstad, The Atlas of Middle Earth revised edition, 2nd printing, c. 1991), I can tell you that Gandalf and Pippen traveled from Isengard to Minas Tirith (on horse, in haste--so most likely a direct route) by traveling 500 miles (Atlas, p. 159).

But even that wouldn't be "as the eagle flies" since they were traveling on land and had to a just to the geography. A map which gives an overview of the different groups travel across the area (Atlas, p. 173) indicates that the absolute distance between Isengard and Barad Dur is 538 miles (+/- a couple miles, if I calculated the scale incorrectly). As to your questions on relative speed, Fonstad utilized the specific dates and chronology of Tolkien's books to discover how long it took different groups to travel different places .So, her calculations (Atlas, p. 156) indicate that:

1. walkers traveled at c. 2 to 2.5 mph. By comparison, when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli were chasing the Uruk-Hai to recover Merry and Pippin, their speed increased to c. 3 mph.

2. jogging ponies went at 3.4 mph; Rohan horses jogged at 6.7 mph; Dunedain horses galloped at 8.6 mph; Shadowfax galloped at a ridiculous 20 mph.

3. small boats drifting w/ current 2.8 mph; paddling 4.1 mph. Ships rowing against current 4.7 mph, sailing 7.2 mph. I hope this gives you what you need (and stuff you surely don't need).

(Confronted with such nerdy goodness, he said:)

Wow. Awesome. Thanks.

Now I'll ask an easy follow up. In all the travels of various sub-groups, which person(s), er, humanoids I guess, made the most *direct* trip between the two (with as few stops and deviations from the path as possible)? Whereabouts in the trilogy is this, and, very briefly, what's going on and what's the purpose of the trip. *These* people making the trip and the most immediate outcome. I just need details to make a good word problem, that's all.

Incidentally, I have found a map of Middle Earth and discovered the bearing from Isengard to Minis Tirith is S 58 degrees E. Won't my class have fun! Or at least I will. Now, for extra, super bonus points, find the "Foxtrot" strip where Jason calculates the area of a 10 by 20 field by using integral calculus.


(So this morning I responded with:)

Well, I left my atlas at home this morning, so I'll have to verify this later . . .

. . . but I think that the aforementioned trip of Pippin and Gandalf (via Shadowfax, I believe) from Isengard to Minas Tirith is the closest to a direct route. They went almost straight south from Isengard to the mountains forming the western border of Mordor and then headed southwest to reach Minas Tirith. But they weren't going to Barad Dur, were they?

Merry/Pippin/the Uruk Hai orcs wandered around a bit, as did Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli. They headed (more or less, I think?) east from the Breaking of the Fellowship point at Amon Hen to Fangorn.

So, maybe Sam and Frodo (and Gollum) took the most direct route to the border of Mordor. But from there, they wandered up and down the mountainous border from the Morannen Gate (at Mordor's northwest corner) to the entrance to Cirith Ungol and the Minas Morgal Tower.

Most of these travels occurred in The Two Towers.

I'll try to get more specific answers at home tonight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Nerdy goodness, indeed. I like the part where G says "Whereabouts in the trilogy is this, and, very briefly, what's going on and what's the purpose of the trip." VERY BRIEFLY, Burb. You must have overlooked this. Crankmeister.