Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Applying Pythagoras to crime!

The Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 has an interesting clause whch forbids anybody to hawk within 100 ft of a municipal market. I always wondered whether this distance was a straight line or the pedestrian walk. And here is an interesting incident that triggered the thought.

Selling drugs within 1000 ft of a school has a higher penalty in New York. James Robbins was arrested on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 40th Street in Manhattan for selling drugs. Look at the map here. But there is a school Holy Cross, on 43rd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. On foot, the school is more than 1000 feet from the corner. However, the straight line distance (the shortest distance if there were no buildings) between the school and the corner is 907.63 feet. That figure is actually a Pythagorean step. The points: the corner of 8th Avenue and 40th street; the corner of 8th avenue and 40th street; and the location of the school shown by the red balloon actually form a right-angled triangle.

So which distance was upheld and did James Robbins get penalised for the crime? Read about it here. Read for the original post on Volokh Conspiracy here, especially the comments!

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