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Circos at British Library Beautiful Science exhibit—Feb 20–May 26


fun + amusement

Longest Google Maps Driving Routes

contents

  1. Longest land leg
    1,532 km
    Haines Junction, Alaska
    Farmington, BC
    view route
  2. Longest land route
    16,280 km
    Sagres, Portugal
    Tanjung Pengelih Pengerang Johor, Malaysia
    view route
  3. Longest land route with ferries
    33,540 km
    Quoin Point, South Africa
    Unknown Road, Indonesia
    view route
  4. Longest land route with no more than 10 legs

other visualizations

Let's say that you think better while driving and, occassionally, like to take a road trip to clear your mind. Maybe even take in a few sights and bring home a spoon or other collector's item.

According to Google Maps, how far could you go?

Each of the challenges below involves finding points A and B that yield the longest driving route in Google Maps. Each challenge has its own parameters, but certain rules apply to each challenge.

  • the route A→B must be generated by the Google Maps algorithm—it cannot be manually adjusted
  • the shorter of A→B and B→A must be used
  • when multiple routes are available, the shortest must be used
  • the points A and B must be towns or cities, not individual street addresses
  • avoid highways and avoid tolls options must be off

Any solution to the challenge will surely have a shorter route (not available to the routing algorithm) as well as many more longer ones (duh—it's always easy to pessimize a route).

This topic has been previously discussed on xkcd forums.

continuous updates to Google Maps — old routes unavailable, records reset

As Google Maps updates the routing network, some of the old routes are no longer available, or significantly shorter. This maps challenge page may therefore be out of date.

Don't be surprised if links to old routes show a significantly different distance, or point to a route that no longer exists. Such links, or out-dated entries, are annotated as historical.

33,000 km limit broken

The current longest route is 33,540 km from Quoin Point, South Africa to a dirt road in Indonesia. It starts with "Head northeast toward R317." and ends with "Turn left". After Malaysia, it's mostly ferries.

historical (Paren' no longer available as a destination) | The 30,000 km limit has been broken by a route from Paren' to Pearly Beach. This was furthered by discovering the bizarrely remote Chimchememel', Russia (e.g. from Chimchememel' to Danger Point).

historical (Uelen still not accessible) | The next milestone for a route with ferries is 32,000 km. Unless you have the money to build a road to Uelen, this new limit is a significant challenge. Interested individuals should start digging immediately.

The 20,000 km all-land route limit still stands. Africa's complex routing may provide a solution. Lack of roads in eastern Russia and blind spots in routing across China make it unlikely that a route across Europe/Asia will exceed this limit.

Blind Spots and Humor

If you play with routes in Google Maps you'll quickly notice that some parts of the world do not appear to be connected to the smarts of the routing algorithm. For example, you cannot drive from Bejing to New Delhi. These holes in the driving fabric pose a challenge in finding long routes.

historical (no more kayak routes) | Google's subtle humour can be found everywhere, such as in step 9 of this Seattle to Hawaii route, which states "Kayak across the Pacific Ocean — 4,436 km". If you have endurance training, you might wish to continue kayaking to Tokyo, for another 6,243 km. For the purpose of this challenge, kayaking is not allowed.

Darién Gap

No routes from North to South America exist because of this boggy marsh.

Routing Changes

As new routes become available, long trips become shorter. For example, introduction of a route across Niger and Algeria cut the original land route with no ferry record from 18,260 km to a mere 15,576 km.

Other Google Data Munging and Visualizations

If you are interested in visualization and information, explore my global visualization of Google searches by language and find out where in the US people are searching in Chinese.

For the morbidly curious, of interest might be all the really stupid questions people ask Google.

mobile users

Google Maps routes linked to from this page do not appear to work on iPhone's Safari browser (I have not tested iPad or iPod). A "driving direction not found" error appears. Rest assured, these routes do exist, and can be viewed on a browser on a PC or Mac. Weird.

a modest route example

Here's a fun 191 hour drive. Not the longest route, by far, but sure to be interesting.

Make sure you stop off in Turkey to go to the bathroom. Pick up a few aluminum centrifuge tubes from Iran, too.

Google Maps Challenge - Longest Driving Routes / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Lisbon, Portugal to Pahang, Malaysia takes 7 days 23 hours and 15,797 km (view route)

The routes below are the current answers to the challenge. Do you have a better (longer!) route? Let me know.

CHALLENGE 1—Longest Land Leg

The longest land leg is the route between Haines Junction and Farmington along the Alaska Highway.

Google Maps Challenge - Longest Driving Routes / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Haines Junction, Alaska, USA to Farmington, BC, Canada 21 hours 34 minutes and 1,532 km (view route)

This route can't be extended to 1,556 km to end at Dawson Creek because the routing adds a 250m second leg into the center of Dawson Creek.

challenge 1 version history

v3 route Haines Junction - Farmington 1,532 km (+32 km) (submitted by David Jackson)

v2 route Haines Junction - South Taylor 1,500 km (+25 km)

v1 route Haines Junction - Charlie Lake 1,475 km

CHALLENGE 2—Longest Land Route

The longest Google Maps route that does not use ferries takes us from Sagres in Portugal to Tanjung Pengelih Pengerang Johor, Malaysia. The old Africa routes, which previously avoided Congo, are now significantly shorter.

Google Maps Challenge - Longest Driving Routes / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Sagres in Portugal to Tanjung Pengelih Pengerang Johor, Malaysia. This trip is 8 days and 16,265 km. (view route)

challenge 2 version history

v6 route Sagres in Portugal to Tanjung Pengelih Pengerang Johor Malaysia 16,280 km. Thanks to Jørgen Adam Holen for pointing out a better destination in Malaysia.

v5 route Duyker Eiland, South Africa - Sidi Bettache, Morocco 15,594 km (+18 km) (Duyker Eiland submitted by David Jackson on xkcd) historical (13,018 km on 6 Jun 2013)

v4 route Pearly Beach, South Africa - Sidi Bettache, Morocco 18,260 km (+84 km) historical (13,005 on 6 Jun 2013)

v3 route Pearly Beach, South Africa - Casablanca, Morocco 18,176 km (+2,180 km) (submitted by ElWanderer via xkcd) historical (13,141 on 6 Jun 2013)

v2 route Gibraltar - Paren', Russia 15,996 km (+602 km) (submitted by ElWanderer via xkcd) historical (no longer exists on 6 Jun 2013)

v1 route Gibraltar - Magadan, Russia 15,394 km historical (15,014 on 6 Jun 2013)

CHALLENGE 3—Longest Land Route with Ferries

The longest Google Maps A–B route that uses ferries. The ferry distance cannot be more than 25% of the entire trip.

This route has 828 legs (41 km/leg) and takes you from Quoin Point on Cape Agulhas to the edge of nowhere in Indonesia. During your voyage, you experience the endless visual monotony of sprawling Africa (keeping a wide bearth from Angola) and taste the salty blue of the Mediterranean on the Tunis-Palermo ferry. The trip ends with about 2,000 km on ferries in Indonesia.

Given that the destination is "Unknown Road", I'm not sure whether it fits the rules of the challenge. Purists might need to fall back to the route ending at Jayapura, which is 33,202 km.

Google Maps Challenge - Longest Driving Routes / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Quoin Point, South Africa to curiously-sounding Unknown Road, Indonesia. The trip takes 26 days 10 hours and 33,540 km. (view route)

challenge 3 version history

v9 route (18 Jul 2013) Quoin Point, South Africa to Unknown Road, Indonesia 33,540 km (Map geek Earl Higgins found this route after invalidating v7. The 33,000 km barrier is again, and legitimately, broken.)

v8 route (16 Jul 2013) Unknown Road, Indonesia to Groot Paternoster Reserve, South Africa 32,433 km (Map geek Earl Higgins pointed out that the reverse of the v7 route is significantly shorter. This means that the 33,000 km barrier has, in fact, not been broken. Pity.)

v7 route (6 Jun 2013) Groot Paternoster Reserve, South Africa to Unknown Road, Indonesia 33,634 km (submitted by Sue DoNym on xkcd). historical (33,557 on 16 Jul 2013; reverse of route is significantly shorter—see v8)

v6 route Chimchememel' Russia - Duyker Eiland, South Africa 31,766 km (+626 km) (submitted by David Jackson on xkcd) historical (no longer exists on 6 Jun 2013)

v5 route Chimchememel' Russia - Pearly Beach, South Africa 31,140 km (+15 km) historical (no longer exists on 6 Jun 2013)

v4 route Chimchememel' Russia - Danger Point, South Africa 31,125 km (+692 km) (submitted by nerd-7hi+42e via xkcd) historical (no longer exists on 6 Jun 2013)

v3 route Pearly Beach - Paren', Russia 30,433 km (+602 km) (submitted by ElWanderer via xkcd) historical (no longer exists on 6 Jun 2013)

v2 route Pearly Beach - Magadan 29,831 km (+66 km) historical (26,856 on 6 Jun 2013)

v1 route Bregasdorp - Magadan 29,765 km historical (26,807 km on 6 Jun 2013)

CHALLENGE 4—Longest Land Route with no more than 10 legs

The longest Google Maps A–B route with no more than 10 legs.

...I'm still working on this one.

news + thoughts

Mind your p's and q's

Sat 29-03-2014

In the April Points of Significance Nature Methods column, we continue our and consider what happens when we run a large number of tests.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Comparing Samples — Part II — Multiple Testing. (read)

Observing statistically rare test outcomes is expected if we run enough tests. These are statistically, not biologically, significant. For example, if we run N tests, the smallest P value that we have a 50% chance of observing is 1–exp(–ln2/N). For N = 10k this P value is Pk=10kln2 (e.g. for 104=10,000 tests, P4=6.9×10–5).

We discuss common correction schemes such as Bonferroni, Holm, Benjamini & Hochberg and Storey's q and show how they impact the false positive rate (FPR), false discovery rate (FDR) and power of a batch of tests.

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Comparing Samples — Part II — Multiple Testing Nature Methods 11:215-216.

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Comparing Samples — Part I — t-tests Nature Methods 11:215-216.

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2013) Points of Significance: Significance, P values and t-tests Nature Methods 10:1041-1042.

Happy Pi Day— go to planet π

Fri 21-03-2014

Celebrate Pi Day (March 14th) with the art of folding numbers. This year I take the number up to the Feynman Point and apply a protein folding algorithm to render it as a path.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Digits of Pi form landmass and shoreline. (details)

For those of you who liked the minimalist and colorful digit grid, I've expanded on the concept to show stacked ring plots of frequency distributions.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Frequency distribution of digits of Pi in groups of 6 up to the Feynman Point. (details)

And if spirals are your thing...

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Frequency distribution of digits of Pi in groups of 4 up to digit 4,988. (details)

Have data, will compare

Fri 07-03-2014

In the March Points of Significance Nature Methods column, we continue our discussion of t-tests from November (Significance, P values and t-tests).

We look at what happens how uncertainty of two variables combines and how this impacts the increased uncertainty when two samples are compared and highlight the differences between the two-sample and paired t-tests.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Comparing Samples — Part I. (read)

When performing any statistical test, it's important to understand and satisfy its requirements. The t-test is very robust with respect to some of its assumptions, but not others. We explore which.

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Comparing Samples — Part I Nature Methods 11:215-216.

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2013) Points of Significance: Significance, P values and t-tests Nature Methods 10:1041-1042.

Circos at British Library Beautiful Science Exhibit

Thu 06-03-2014

Beautiful Science explores how our understanding of ourselves and our planet has evolved alongside our ability to represent, graph and map the mass data of the time. The exhibit runs 20 February — 26 May 2014 and is free to the public. There is a good Nature blog writeup about it, a piece in The Guardian, and a great video that explains the the exhibit narrated by Johanna Kieniewicz, the curator.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Circos at the British Library Beautiful Science exhibit. (about exhibit)
Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Mailed invitation to the exhibit features my science art. (zoom)

I am privileged to contribute an information graphic to the exhibit in the Tree of Life section. The piece shows how sequence similarity varies across species as a function of evolutionary distance. The installation is a set of 6 30x30 cm backlit panels. They look terrific.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Circos Circles of Life installation at Beautiful Science exhibit at the British Library. (zoom)