In this point-counterpoint, Opinion editor Harrison Raskin and writer Owen Silverman debate the number of doors and wheels in the world, without relying on any official statistics. Their argument relates to the quantity of each item on Earth in the year 2022.
Rather than simply any entrance through which someone might pass, I’ll be charitable and consider doors as hinged objects that open and close in such entryways. While thus excluding many potential doors, we can still say there are far more doors than wheels in the world.
One simple explanation is that built, immovable structures far outnumber wheeled vehicles. In order for there to be more wheels than doors, there would need to be more vehicles than buildings. Factoring in bicycles, rickshaws and other two and three wheeled vehicles, the average number of wheels-per-vehicle shrinks substantially below the number of doors-per-building. Further, factoring in the number of buildings with more than four doors, the average doors-to-building ratio is far higher than wheels-to-vehicle. Finally, by knowing there are more buildings than vehicles in the world, we know that there are more doors than wheels.
But the nail finds its place in the coffin of the wheels argument while considering cabinets. Yes, this is unfair because people don’t go through these doors. But because cabinet doors are shaped and function exactly the same as building doors, and often designed to appear similar, we must consider them doors. This means, in every house that has cabinets, the number of doors-per-building skyrockets. In societies where almost every house has a kitchen with cabinets, we add billions of doors to our count, far outpacing the most ambitious figure of wheels.
By definition, a wheel is “a circular frame of hard material that may be solid, partly solid, or spoked and that is capable of turning on an axle.” With this in mind, I believe that cars and other vehicles alone can be used to prove the claim that there are more wheels than doors in the world.
The wheel-to-door ratio is significant for our argument, as there are objects that possess both wheels and doors. A four-door sedan, as the name suggests, has four doors (brilliant work happening over here at the DC). However, it also has four wheels, six if we include the spare tire and the steering wheel, meaning that these vehicles have, at the minimum, a 3:2 wheel-to-door ratio (six wheels to four doors). I mention this because four door cars are the only ones in which the wheel-to-door ratio is even close, as coupes possess a 3:1 ratio, and larger trucks such as 18 wheelers come in with a whopping 10:1 ratio (2 doors, 20 wheels). The only vehicles that (initially) seem to have more doors than wheels are planes and boats.
But let’s not forget the latter half of the definition above: “capable of turning on an axle.” This opens the door to every gear in said plane or boat being included in our count, as well as every other gear on the planet, catapulting our wheel-to-door ratio through the roof. Almost every mechanism on Earth utilizes gears, adding upward of trillions to our net wheel count, and it is by virtue of gears that the number of doors becomes no more than a diminutive attempt to stand up to their circular superiors.
The greatest counter-argument to door numerical supremacy is the phenomenal amount of vehicles. There are more cars than people in most countries of the world, and some extensively rely upon cars for basic transportation such as in the United States. There are also many bicycles without any doors.
However, vehicle doors substantially diminish this advantage. Most modern cars, the most common vehicle, have four doors, which therefore do not increase wheels-to-doors. Most cars do not have spare tires, and the small number of cars with less than four doors still have two. Further, almost all motorized bicycles have at least one door compartment for engine access.
Disregarding the bourgeois dictionary, it would be uncharitable to consider axles, and other turning circular features as wheels. Cabinets should be considered doors only because they allow passage, and they look exactly like the doors on buildings and homes; exact in function and aesthetic to the doors we know and love.
Axles, on the other hand, look dissimilar to external wheels, and function to spin the wheels themselves, not to carry a vehicle or receive friction against a ground as wheels do. If an axle is required in the turning on any given wheel, the axel should be considered part of the wheel, not a second wheel. Wheels were invented thousands of years before axles, which did not arrive until advanced vehicles in recent centuries. It would be ahistorical and disrespectful to science to suggest that axles are the same as wheels.
I must give Mr. Raskin credit for bringing up office buildings, as any given city skyscraper easily consists of 20-50 floors, each with numerous rooms accompanied by doors. Additionally, cities such as New York or Chicago, despite having a large population of drivers, easily have more buildings than cars.
However, my colleague forgot about one thing: office chairs. These buildings’ doors are corporate portals leading to rooms filled with office chairs, most of which are mounted on rolling wheels (typically four, one for each leg). For every room, one door is vastly outnumbered by the number of wheels on each chair, making my opponent’s claim that more buildings than cars equates to more doors than wheels nothing more than a fallacious blunder.
Secondly, to combat the kitchen cabinet argument, we must not forget about drawers. Most sliding drawers found in a home, whether it be for silverware or clothing, rely on sliding apparatuses that consist of, you guessed it, wheels. Additionally, cabinets seldom exist outside of the kitchen, whereas many other rooms in homes have drawers, each of which contribute to our total wheel count.
I raise one final question: what about sliding doors? Whether between rooms or cabinets, there are plenty of doors that rely on sliding tracks rather than hinges to open and close, and much like our aforementioned drawers, these tracks require wheels. In light of this, it has become increasingly clear that we live within a utopian, wheel-dominated world — one which will continue to roll forward.