Researchers Say They've Found the Longest Straight Path by Sea on Earth

Tuesday, 01 May 2018 - 10:44AM
Tuesday, 01 May 2018 - 10:44AM
Researchers Say They've Found the Longest Straight Path by Sea on Earth
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Image credit: ROHAN CHABUKSWAR / KUSHAL MUKHERJEE

If you're trying to get from point A to point B in a boat as quickly as possible, make sure those points aren't between Russia and Pakistan, because it's definitely going to take you a while.

 

About five years ago, a redditor named kepleronlyknows shared a claim in the r/MapPorn subreddit about the longest uninterrupted straight water path on the planet. 

 

Some resisted the claim because they wanted more proof, while others called bullshit that the path could ever be found. However, with the help of computers and two smart researchers, kepleronlyknows may finally have vindication.


Using a "branch-and-bound" algorithm they developed, Rohan Chabukswar (United Technologies Research Center in Ireland) and Kushal Mukherjee (IBM Research in India) have proven that the redditor and whoever created the map in the first place wasn't making stuff up.

 

Instead of going through the process of verifying all 5,038,848,000,000 points, the algorithm used the branching technique to focus in on the best options more quickly. 

 

Finding the longest path only took 10 minutes.

 

"This path is visually the same one as found by kepleronlyknows, thus proving his assertion," Chabukswar and Mukherjee said in a recently published report.

 

At one end is Sonmiani, Las Bela, Balochistan, Pakistan (if you're following along on a map at home, that's 25 degrees 16' 30" N, 66 degrees 40' 0"), and at the other is the Karaginsky District, Kamchatka Krai, Russia (58 degrees 36' 34" N, 162 degress 14' 0" E).

Like the original map, the line on the flat map appears to weave around continents because (despite what some famous athletes and celebrities say) the world is a sphere.

 

All in all, the line is roughly 19,940 miles long.

 

As for the longest straight line by land, it starts in Jinjiang, Fujian, in China, passes through 15 countries and ends 6,985 miles later in Portugal. 


At the end of their paper, Mukherjee and Chabukswar state that the research was "a purely mathematical exercise" and that they "do not recommend sailing or driving along the found paths."

 

We're all for mathematical and scientific exercises, but we think actions speak louder than maps...so get out there and start exploring.

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