Archimedes's Fables #2: The Painting

Written 1 December 1998

There once was an abstract painter who would paint complex shapes using but a single color.

A friend of his admired the shapes and asked permission to trace them. The painter, far wiser than his pencil-wielding friend, warned him against it, advising him to find his own style and subject matter, perhaps better-suited to his method.

The friend, however, would not be dissuaded, and continued to pester the painter. Finally, the painter agreed to leave his friend with his paintings and allow him to do as he desired for one full day.

At the end of the day, he entered the room to find countless pencil-nubs, mounds of pencil shavings--and one uncompleted drawing. His friend had departed, humiliated, through the window.

Moral: Figures with a finite area may have an infinite perimiter.

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