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.
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.
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 This maps challenge page may therefore be out of date.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.
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.
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.
No routes from North to South America exist because of this boggy marsh.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The routes below are the current answers to the challenge. Do you have a better (longer!) route? Let me know.
The longest land leg is the route between Haines Junction and Farmington along the Alaska Highway.
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.
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
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.
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)
v1 route Gibraltar - Magadan, Russia 15,394 km historical (15,014 on 6 Jun 2013)
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.
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)
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)
The longest Google Maps A–B route with no more than 10 legs.
...I'm still working on this one.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Quick, name three chart types. Line, bar and scatter come to mind. Perhaps you said pie too—tsk tsk. Nobody ever thinks of the box plot.
Box plots reveal details about data without overloading a figure with a full frequency distribution histogram. They're easy to compare and now easy to make with BoxPlotR (try it). In our fifth Points of Significance column, we take a break from the theory to explain this plot type and—I hope— convince you that they're worth thinking about.
The February issue of Nature Methods kicks the bar chart two more times: Dan Evanko's Kick the Bar Chart Habit editorial and a Points of View: Bar charts and box plots column by Mark Streit and Nils Gehlenborg.
Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Visualizing samples with box plots Nature Methods 11:119-120.
For specialists, visualizations should expose detail to allow for exploration and inspiration. For enthusiasts, they should provide context, integrate facts and inform. For the layperson, they should capture the essence of the topic, narrate a story and deligt.
Wired's Brandon Keim wrote up a short article about me and some of my work—Circle of Life: The Beautiful New Way to Visualize Biological Data.