Where in the world?

First, sorry for the lack of activity. Simply put, there’s been a lot going on. I’ve taken on the role of treasurer for the NZ Institute of Physics which has eaten up rather more time than I hoped for. I’ll get into the swing of things soon though.  In that role, here is a shameless plug for the upcoming NZIP conference in Nelson. 

B-semester has started here today and the last couple of weeks I’ve also had to spend putting our 2nd and 3rd year lab experiments into some kind or order. It’s amazing how something that has been untouched for several months can cease to work when it gets turned on again. 

In the little bit of spare time I’ve had, I’ve been reading through Mike Parker’s lovely little book ‘Map Addict’. As a fellow addict, I know where he is coming from. Love of all things cartographic – be it Google Maps, the floor plans of F-block here at Waikato, or Middle-Earth. The book prompted me to do a bit of background reading on enclaves and exclaves, and this led to ‘discovering’ the most ridiculous place on the planet, politically speaking.

Go to Google and fly to loc: 26.14987,88.76217 and you’ll see what I mean.

From satellite, it looks like an innocuous piece of farmland in India. And, in some respects, it is. But, to be more precise, it is a piece of Indian farmland entirely surrounded by Bangladesh. 

Kind of. That’s because the bit of Bangledesh that surrounds it is itself entirely surrounded by India. It’s a piece of India in Bangledesh in India. 

Sort of. To be more accurate, one also needs to point out that the piece of India that surrounds the piece of Bangledesh that itself entirely surrounds Dahala Khagrabari #51 is itself surrounded entirely by Bangledesh. 

So we have a third-order enclave – a piece of India surrounded by Bangladesh, surrounded by India, surrounded by Bangladesh.  This is the only third-order enclave in the world, but there are some second order ones, such as in the vicinity of  Baarle-Nassau in the Netherlands. (Or should that be Baarle-Hertog in Belgium?) Or Baarle-Nassau in the Netherlands? 

I can’t help thinking that there must be some deep physics analogy to draw from here, but I haven’t come up with a good one yet. Perhaps some infinite series of Feynman diagrams in quantum electrodynamics might come close – where to calculate the interaction between two electrons we need to consider all possibilities of exchange of photons and electrons, including all interactions between electrons that might appear as part of this exchange process. Or perhaps an infinite series of reflections in a laser cavity. Any ideas, anyone?

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