## Wednesday, July 1, 2009

### A First Approximation

"You say, 'I don't know how to solve an elephant, but I do know how to solve a mouse.' And so you start with a mouse and build to an elephant."
Dr. Marija Drndic, professor of physics, University of Pennsylvania
I may not have mastered introductory quantum mechanics, but Professor Drndic's words have remained with me. She speaks with regard to problem solving (perturbation theory, to be precise), but I think of them now with respect to travel.

On Sunday I will leave for six weeks in Seoul, South Korea. I have studied Korean. I have some Korean friends. But by no means do I profess to understand Korea.

For the sake of this analogy, let's call Korea the elephant. And let's call Pennsylvania, my home state, the mouse.

Wikipedia affords some comparisons:

So, while Pennsylvania has about 20% more space, in Korea reside almost four times as many people. It's liable to feel a bit crowded over there. Also, to the extent that GDP per capita is a reflection of wealth, your average Pennsylvanian is a little wealthier than your average Korean.

Judging by latitude, climate should be similar, though Korea's peninsular nature and other geographic features should make for differences.

How about each locale's respective largest cities?

Yikes. Like I said, it might feel crowded.

How about a comparison of the depth of history in each place? I remember a conversation with my Korean conversation partner in which I told her the various, mostly European lineages from which I descend. She replied, "My 58th grandfather is Korean."

Hmm. Perhaps statistics will only get me so far.

Katherine said...

Hah, I compared the statistics of Uijeongbu (the nearest city to me in Korea) and Bethlehem (the nearest city to me in Pennsylvania) and Uijeongbu generally came out on top in regards to numbers, especially population density. It's a bit disorienting; if I didn't have easy access to a view of the wilderness in my neighborhood, I'd go bonkers.

Let me know when you touch down here in the East! Catching-up needs to happen.

Hannah said...

Here comes a even crazier one. ^^

Shanghai
Population (2010)
- Municipality 23,019,148
- Density 3,271.2/km2 (8,472.3/sq mi)