Two points connected with a continuous band constitutes a line. The line can be a continuous curve, a parabola, or straight.


Carpenters framing a house. Right angles and perpendicular beams are replicable and strong while supporting other angles and allowing curves.

We inhabit a right-angle world of constructions. In my apartment, every room is limited by right-angle corners. I inhabit a small rectangular section of the fifth floor of a rectangular building – square corners. The non-right-angle parts of the building appear to be more decorative than functional. Their purpose is to highlight the right angles that dominate. Example: the curved roofs of the entry canopies are there to beautify the entrance. The curved wall of the swimming pool adds interest, but it inhibits lap swimming which is always carried out at right angles from the end of the pool. This morning as I participated in a water aerobics class, I noticed each group of four participants were aligned in a square formation, or were they equidistant points in a circle?

A visit to Google seeking insight yielded little. Right angles are not usual in nature. A tree which rises perpendicular from its base in the ground, forming a right angle is an exception. And some natural quartzite breaks along straight lines. There is also some esoterica dealing with this – metaphysical musings?

We think of space all around us – yet there are four cardinal directions determined by man who designed them to intersect at right angles. Ditto for clocks – literature focuses on time in the half – hour, the quarter and noon, straight up. (Of course, such distinctions may be lost as we go to abbreviations for direction on GPS and digital time.)

Visit ancient ruins like Ephesus, Aztec remnants, Chinese soldiers, Machu Picchu. Much of the construction is on right angles. Not the coliseum or the Pantheon though. And some homes are round, but they stand separately not aggregated. The squared off shape uses space most efficiently.

Automobiles and other modes of transportation are not right angles. Boxy shape resists movement, so over time strategic curves were added. Our bodies and the bodies of all creatures are rounded – no straight lines. And it is our rounded joints which allow bending to a right angle which can cause us much pain.

Questions: do we tend to devise and construct right angle structures, or are we just doing straight lines? Is a straight line always a sign that someone has been there? Nature abhors a vacuum, perhaps nature also feels the same way about a straight line!

Final question: What about roundabouts?

Contributed by: Lucy Riegel


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