Long Distance

On May 22, 2012 · 2 Comments

I thought I would combine elements of several different articles to create something new. Counter-intuitive distances have been an ongoing theme, contradictions such as Los Angeles located farther east than Reno and Glasgow located farther west than Madrid serve as great examples. Then I stirred-in an online tool used to create circles of user-specified radii on Google Maps. As a final layer, I looked at lines of maximal length across the continental United States, including the ultralineamentum.

View Ultralineamentum and Longest Absolute Line in a larger map

The ultralineamentum is a term coined by Dr. Cliff Pickover ("The line could not pass outside America and could not go through the oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. In other words, the line had to stay inside the continental boundaries"). It was calculated by Mark Nandor who determined it ran from Neah Bay, Washington to Jupiter, Florida, a distance of 2,802 miles (4,509 kilometres). I’ve marked it as a blue line on the embedded map, above. If you drill in further on the map near Florida the line will appear to cross over a corner of the Gulf of Mexico. This is actually an inaccuracy inherent in Google Maps and the way it attempts to deal with the curvature of the earth.

Mr. Nandor also calculated the absolute longest line, which, unlike the ultralineamentum, is allowed to cross national boundaries. This one is marked as a red line and stretches 2,892 miles (4,654 km.) which isn’t all that much longer than the ultralineamentum. Notice that it crosses over a segment of Canada as it traverses the Great Lakes region on its journey between Point Arena, California and West Quoddy, Maine.

Now it was time to draw some circles starting with the ultralineamentum end-points. I started with Neah Bay and specified a radius 2,802 miles.

Neah Bay Circle
2802 Miles Around Neah Bay, Washington

It certainly doesn’t look like a circle, but again that’s because a round earth needs to be flattened. Also, don’t bother to click it because it’s a screen-grab. Google Maps doesn’t support the format natively. The more important point is that Neah Bay, WA is closer to all of Alaska, nearly all of Canada and Mexico, some of Russia and a big chunk of Greenland than it is to Jupiter, FL.

Jupiter Circle
2802 Miles Around Jupiter, Florida

Moving to Jupiter, one can see that all of Central America and a big chunk of South America are closer than Neah Bay. As I look a little more carefully I was reminded that even a section of Bolivia was closer (we’ve discussed that one before).

Point Arena Circle
2892 Miles Around Point Arena, California

Next I examined the longest absolute line. Point Arena, CA demonstrated similarly confounding elements. The circle included Honduras, Hawaii, Alaska, all of Mexico, most of Canada and parts of Cuba and the Bahamas. They are all closer to Point Arena than it is to West Quoddy, ME.

West Quoddy Circle
2892 Miles Around West Quoddy, Maine

Finally, I turned my attention to West Quoddy and performed the same examination. This one might be my favorite. The circle contained the usual suspects including Central America, Greenland and most of Canada. However it also crossed the Atlantic Ocean, clipping a segment of Portugal, a tiny corner of France near Brest and incorporated most of Great Britain. West Quoddy is closer to all of these places than to Point Arena. For the United Kingdom specifically, all of Northern Ireland, all of Scotland and nearly all of Wales are closer. Plymouth, Cardiff and Manchester are closer. Bristol, Birmingham and Leeds are farther.

There’s no special meaning to these observations. I’m just having a little fun today.

On May 22, 2012 · 2 Comments

2 Responses to “Long Distance”

  1. Pfly says:

    I hadn’t seen your earlier ultralineamentum post. Looking at it and the links to Cliff Pickover and Mark Nandor’s pages about it I think I see one glaring error. The coastline data they used appears to not include Puget Sound (and Hood Canal, which technically is part of Puget Sound). Their straight line skims right along the northern coast of the Olympic Peninsula and, although you can’t tell from their maps, across Puget Sound. It’s funny how they take pains to explain how their line just barely touches the coast of the Gulf of Mexico but ignore, or don’t know about, or don’t care about Puget Sound. Also, just to be pedantic, the road route suggested by Google Maps you posted includes crosses the “ocean” via the Hood Canal Bridge and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Those guys need better coastline data!

  2. Pfly says:

    It’s hard to tell for sure with this Great Circle Mapper web app, which doesn’t zoom in very far, but the result taking Puget Sound into account is probably something closer to this: http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=47.23915+N+124.21761+W++-+27.12912+N+80.15230+W&DU=mi&SU=kts
    The coast near Port Salerno, Florida to Moclips, Washington.

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