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Treebeard's Stumper
11 February 2000

A Slow Sort of World

We've been doing problems and experiments with distance, velocity, and time in science class at Dunn Middle School, and we're ready for a big question! How fast are we all traveling right now as we sit quietly reading this stumper? Well, how fast compared to what? The Earth turns on its axis once a day. We travel around the Sun once a year. We're part of the Milky Way galaxy. And beyond that? It's ok to make reasonable assumptions and round off your answers, but show your work! If we're really moving that fast, why don't we notice it? Or do we?

John Tenniel's classic illustration of Alice and the Red Queen running fast to stay put in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (chapter 2, page 45):
'Well, in OUR country,' said Alice, still panting a little, 'you'd generally get to somewhere else--if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing.'

'A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. 'Now, HERE, you see, it takes all the running YOU can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!'

Answer


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Copyright © 2000 by Marc Kummel / mkummel@rain.org