Friday, October 03, 2008

Sunrise, sunset ...

It is often said that words are a lawyer's tools. Certainly, most lawyers are verbally skilled, and if they don't employ those skills in reading, at least they can talk. The verbal faculty can be developed at the expense of ability at visualisation, which is a shame as pictures can be a more effective means of communication.

I have used diagrams in my analysis of the discretionary exclusion of improperly obtained evidence, in a draft paper available here.

Diagrams can be complex, as anyone who has tried to understand why the sun rises due east for everyone at equinox will realise, and a whole new vocabulary opens up.

So, lawyers, try to explain in words as simply as you can why the sun rises due east at equinox, and sets due west, for observers at all latitudes. Ignore the slight inaccuracy of this generalisation for observers near the poles. And no, just saying "because the celestial equator intersects with the ecliptic" does not count as an explanation.

This is one occasion where words really are simpler than diagrams. My own answer will be posted here before the next equinox.

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