Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Ambiguity of Depth

Do you remember when you were in college and you found yourself asking “when will I ever use this in real life?” I personally found myself asking that question numerous times while struggling through physics – don’t even get me started on that right now.

In retrospect, I figured I would be using most of the knowledge gained in my psychology classes. What I didn’t predict was that Dexter, my dog, would prove the depth ambiguity theorem. Please, allow me to explain.

I had just moved into a rental house in rural NC and had left Dexter with friends during the ordeal. Why stress the dog out as well? After getting things organized enough for Dexter to join me, I brought him to our new abode. He spent a good hour trying to figure out how the old scents co-mingled with the new surroundings. I was busy unpacking the kitchen. In most southern homes the main entrance is through the back door. It took me a while to get used to front doors not having sidewalks that lead up to them.

In this house the back door was in the kitchen. Also a southern staple if I am not mistaken. The floor was covered in linoleum with a black and white checkered pattern, each checker was 2 square feet. Exhaustion had set in so I was ready to call it a night. I wanted to let Dexter out one last time before we turned in. I called him and he came galloping around the corner, took one step onto a white square and froze. I have never seen him come to a dead stop like that. He became a statue. I could not figure out what was wrong. I looked into the kitchen to see what had spooked him, I found nothing. I tried coaxing him with treats, sweet talk – nothing worked. He was not going to move off that square! I literally had to drag him by the collar across the kitchen floor and out the door. Once he hit the threshold of the back door he was back to normal. I was still clueless.

Of course trying to get him back into the door and across the kitchen floor was even harder. I really was too tired to fight with him. I went outside with him and we both came back into the house through the front door. He was happy, tail wagging the whole bit.

The next morning it all became clear. I had inadvertently left a throw rug on the kitchen floor when I let Dexter out. By the time he was ready to come in, the throw rug was missing from the kitchen. He froze again. Dexter thought he was going to fall through the black checkers on the floor. Depth Ambiguity.

How did I solve the problem? Throw rugs the length of the kitchen. That in and of itself made college worth it. Well not really, but it sounded good anyway.


HotForSimon said...

Oh no! Poor Dexter! I never would have thought of that being a problem.

When I first started reading the post, I thought you were going to talk about the word problem you got on that one exam...LOL!!!

Wicked H said...

Please, don't remind me!!! I am working on my physics post. Stay tuned for the infamous word problem.....