Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Take a Break: What Coast is Across From You?

When I was a child, standing on the shores of a mid Atlantic beach, we use to discuss that if we could swim straight across the ocean we would be in Russia. As I got a bit older, we revised it to say it was more likely France. Well thanks to a map from the Washington Post, what was across the ocean was more likely Algeria as France was considerably north of where we were. Or is it?

Andy Woodruff took it one step further in his post Beyond the Sea.  The latitude maps got me interested in answering the question more strictly: standing on a given point and facing perpendicular to the coast, if you went straight ahead, never turning, where would you end up? There are two reasons why following a line of latitude won’t answer the question.
1. Coastlines are crooked and wacky.
2. The earth is round.

Now that put a whole new light on things, particularly since I had spent some wonderful summer vacations in Ocean City, NJ. Turns out swimming straight ahead would take me to Brazil!

So start with your favorite beach(s) and see where swimming straight ahead takes you, using Woodruff’s map. You might be surprised where you end up.

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