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Distance Between Two Points

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Measure for Measure

Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24256351@N04/3743235527
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

You know you can measure the distance between two points on a flat surface using a ruler or a tape measure. The job gets more complicated when you must measure a long distance across bumpy ground. When you need an accurate sense of how far away an object is and how it shapes the land, you need to enlist the help of a surveyor.

Why It Matters to You

Surveyors use geometry to measure the land, decide where roads, train lines, and other major construction projects should go, and create accurate maps of our world. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 surveyors in the United States earned a median salary of $54,880 a year. Surveyors need an understanding of geometry. They also must enjoy working outside, and they must be willing to work in all sorts of weather.

Credit: Mike G.
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/49481211@N08/5275744193/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

People have been using geometry to mark property boundaries, organize towns, and measure distances for thousands of years. Ancient Romans used materials like strings and measuring sticks to lay out camps, roads, and cities. Surveying enabled the Romans to quickly build orderly cities in conquered lands. Today, surveyors use modern tools that allow them to make accurate measurements across all sorts of extreme terrains.

See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE21igwQYd4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4zM0TYrAQI 

Explore More

With the links below, learn more about how surveyors use geometry to measure the land. Then answer the following questions.

http://www.ams.org/samplings/feature-column/fcarc-surveying-one

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/surveyors.htm

http://www.surveyhistory.org/the_surveyor%27s_basic_tools.htm

  1. How do surveyors utilize geometry in their work?
  2. How has surveying changed from ancient times? How do modern surveyors measure the land? 

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24256351@N04/3743235527; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Mike G.; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/49481211@N08/5275744193/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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