Do sheep decay as one over r-squared?

June 20, 2007

Sheep—when viewed form a distance, maybe gambolling along the side of a lush green hill—are lovely picturesque animals. However, when viewed up close, they can be seen to be filthy beasts. Thus, if ovine picturesqueness is plotted versus distance, there must be a point at which sheep go from being postcard pretty to just plain ugly.

The left side of my brain wants to know what this distance is.

I have previously—armed with a 1/4 scale picture of a sheep against a green background—asked an independent adjudicator to gauge the distance at which the scenic-to-ugly transition occurred. Based on the result—12 m—I can determine the point at which sheep cease being scenic to about 50 m.

In spite of some recent vocal criticism—mostly concerning whether the picturesqueness of a sheep decays linearly or in an inverse-square manner—I stand by this preliminary result.

Short of actually going to Wales armed with a tape measure, does anyone have any design improvements? Also, I would find it interesting if other people could send in their results, including the original scale of the sheep. Together, we can get a definitive answer. Nothing can stand in the way of progress!

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4 Responses to “Do sheep decay as one over r-squared?”

  1. Lawrence Says:

    Well… the one here is small, but the one in the field is faaaar away…

  2. Mushymajor Says:

    Well, the right side of my brain is saying that there is a variable that you have forgotten to include. A sheep is not just a sheep – there are many varieties, from your Wiltshire Horn and Dorset Down to your Africana and Morada Nova.

    Surely for this experiment to succeed you need to limit the scope to a particular breed. I for one think that a Beulah Speckled-Face would look better close up than a Racka, although the Racka’s horns do lift it above the herd. Sheeps of the World can be found here. Choose your victim.

  3. mushyp Says:

    I’ve asked a theoretical physicist friend to look into this for me. The opening line of his response—”Consider a spherical sheep”—left a lot to be desired.

  4. Mushymajor Says:

    There are no shades of grey with you science types. It’s either black sheep or white sheep and nothing in between.

    A spherical sheep? The man is a fool. Everyone knows that they are cloud shaped.


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