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This love loves love. It's a strange love, strange love.Liz Fraserwatch

road trips: fun


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 This maps challenge page may therefore be out of date.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. (19 Jul 2014—no longer available)

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

Monkeys on a Hilbert Curve—Scientific American Graphic

Tue 19-08-2014

I was commissioned by Scientific American to create an information graphic that showed how our genomes are more similar to those of the chimp and bonobo than to the gorilla.

I had about 5 x 5 inches of print space to work with. For 4 genomes? No problem. Bring out the Hilbert curve!

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Our genomes are much more similar to the chimp and bonobo than to the gorilla. And, we're practically still Denisovans. (details)

To accompany the piece, I will be posting to the Scientific American blog about the process of creating the figure. And to emphasize that the genome is not a blueprint!

As part of this project, I created some Hilbert curve art pieces. And while exploring, found thousands of Hilbertonians!

Happy Pi Approximation Day— π, roughly speaking 10,000 times

Wed 13-08-2014

Celebrate Pi Approximation Day (July 22nd) with the art of arm waving. This year I take the first 10,000 most accurate approximations (m/n, m=1..10,000) and look at their accuracy.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Accuracy of the first 10,000 m/n approximations of Pi. (details)

I turned to the spiral again after applying it to stack stacked ring plots of frequency distributions in Pi for the 2014 Pi Day.

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

Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Blocking—Accounting for Variability in Multi-factor Experiments

Mon 07-07-2014

Our 10th Points of Significance column! Continuing with our previous discussion about comparative experiments, we introduce ANOVA and blocking. Although this column appears to introduce two new concepts (ANOVA and blocking), you've seen both before, though under a different guise.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and blocking. (read)

If you know the t-test you've already applied analysis of variance (ANOVA), though you probably didn't realize it. In ANOVA we ask whether the variation within our samples is compatible with the variation between our samples (sample means). If the samples don't all have the same mean then we expect the latter to be larger. The ANOVA test statistic (F) assigns significance to the ratio of these two quantities. When we only have two-samples and apply the t-test, t2 = F.

ANOVA naturally incorporates and partitions sources of variation—the effects of variables on the system are determined based on the amount of variation they contribute to the total variation in the data. If this contribution is large, we say that the variation can be "explained" by the variable and infer an effect.

We discuss how data collection can be organized using a randomized complete block design to account for sources of uncertainty in the experiment. This process is called blocking because we are blocking the variation from a known source of uncertainty from interfering with our measurements. You've already seen blocking in the paired t-test example, in which the subject (or experimental unit) was the block.

We've worked hard to bring you 20 pages of statistics primers (though it feels more like 200!). The column is taking a month off in August, as we shrink our error bars.

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Blocking Nature Methods 11:699-700.

Background reading

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Designing Comparative Experiments Nature Methods 11:597-598.

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.

...more about the Points of Significance column

Designing Experiments—Coping with Biological and Experimental Variation

Thu 29-05-2014

This month, Points of Significance begins a series of articles about experimental design. We start by returning to the two-sample and paired t-tests for a discussion of biological and experimental variability.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Designing Comparative Experiments. (read)

We introduce the concept of blocking using the paired t-test as an example and show how biological and experimental variability can be related using the correlation coefficient, ρ, and how its value imapacts the relative performance of the paired and two-sample t-tests.

We also emphasize that when reporting data analyzed with the paired t-test, differences in sample means (and their associated 95% CI error bars) should be shown—not the original samples—because the correlation in the samples (and its benefits) cannot be gleaned directly from the sample data.

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Designing Comparative Experiments Nature Methods 11:597-598.

Background reading

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.