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The Surface Area of Nothing

Redditor splongo asked two questions:

If a perfectly spherical ball is sitting on a perfectly flat surface, what is the size of the contact area? Would it not be infinitely small?

I’m at a loss for a completely coherent answer. I don’t think that, as a physical reality, there can be a perfectly spherical or flat object. But as a theoretical model (e.g. the formula for a sphere), there can be such objects, and therefore intersection between them. Would the surface area of the intersection point be non-dimensional, or just incalculably small?

How would you answer splongo’s questions?

Link -via The Agitator | Photo: katerha

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Date
March 14th, 2012

Author
Stranger to the World

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