How The Mile 23 Got Its Name


Don't expect this to make any sense.

A mile is one minute of arc in latitude. That's the nautical mile, anyway. The other mile is about 200 meters shorter or so. But I prefer the definition of one minute of arc... It seems somehow less arbitrary. Only as arbitrary as the size of the earth and its speed of rotation, and the decision that there should be 360 degrees in a circle.

A knot, by the way, is one nautical mile an hour, which is a highly recursive definition.

But anyway. A mile is a large unit of measure. It's a semi-big distance. A motivated person could walk 23 miles in a day, couldn't they? So the distance isn't insurmountable.