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How far to moorseville?

  1. Aug 20, 2011 #1
    I am wondering about writing a computer program that will find the "as the crow flies" distance between any two points on the Earth's surface, assuming that the planet is not a sphere but an ellipsoid.

    Question: will the geodesics be the same? My intuition says yes: If I imagine a spherical balloon with a rubber band stretched between two surface points, the rubber band doesn't shift position as I flatten the balloon.

    But parameterizing a geodesic on a sphere and seeing if it remains a geodesic while changing the spherical metric to an ellipsoidal one.. Well, that sounds like quite a challenge.
     
  2. jcsd
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