Big country

My geography knowledge, if I say so myself, is excellent. But there’s a difference between knowing something and really feeling its effects. So I know the US is an enormous country. But it’s only when I have to fly across it, as I did yesterday, that the scale is brought home to me.

I had an important business meeting today in Atlanta. From London, my home for so many years, a 2pm meeting anywhere in Europe (excepting Moscow) would be easily reachable by a morning flight. Not so Atlanta from San Francisco. I had to fly Sunday morning at 11am to get to Atlanta at 6:30 in the evening. It’s the effect of both distance and time zones. Atlanta is 2100 miles away and three hours ahead of the Bay Area. To go that far from London, you would need to fly to Egypt.

By the way, Apple computers used to have a little utility that measured global distances (I seem to recall the default measured from Cupertino). I don’t know whether they still do, but in my World Link days we determined that the two most distant national capitals are Singapore and Quito, Ecuador. They are 12,269 miles apart (19,745km). The earth’s circumference at the equator is 24,902 miles, so it’s almost impossible to be further apart than Singapore and Quito. I challenge anyone to find two more distant places of any significance on our planet. We dreamed for years of having one World Link staffer in Singapore at the same time as one in Quito (they were the kinds of places we went to), but never quite managed it.

(In the absence of the Apple utility, you can use for the calculation.)

Update It occurs to me that Quito/Singapore would have been perfect for Ze Frank’s earth sandwich.

Further update As David Derrick points out in the comments, Madrid and Wellington are a bit further apart.

2 thoughts on “Big country

  1. AJ

    Technically, the shortest furthest points (i.e. the shortest for a plane journey for example) between anywhere on earth is 24,860 miles (ie. the distance around the poles) regardless of where it is located latitudinally (equator, 45 parallel etc.). This is because the Earth is spherical (approximately) therefore a straight line can be drawn from Singapore to Quito (for example) over one of the poles rather than around the equator, making the straight line distance between them smaller.


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