This Is the Longest Line You Can Sail Without Hitting Land

It goes more than 19K miles, from Pakistan to Russia
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2018 12:13 PM CDT
   (Getty/Pinosub)

(Newser) – Feel like getting away on the open sea for a long while? Get yourself a boat and head to Pakistan's coastal town of Sonmiani. From there, you can embark on the longest sailable straight line possible, reaching Russia's Karaginsky District some 19,940 miles away, according to researchers. Rohan Chabukswar of Ireland's United Technologies Research Center tells LiveScience he loves solving "particularly fun" puzzles with his colleague, Kushal Mukherjee, and the pair "took it as a challenge" when they came across a 2012 Reddit post claiming the longest straight-line path over water was one from Pakistan to Russia. After developing their own algorithm, they confirmed Patrick Anderson's theory was right, reports MIT Technology Review.

While Anderson had used Wikipedia data to trace a path that originated in Pakistan, went between mainland Africa and Madagascar, and continued between Antarctica and the southern tip of South America before reaching Russia, Chabukswar and Mukherjee wanted to be more precise, which meant examining some 5 trillion points on Earth, per Smithsonian. To do this, they created a "branch-and-bound" algorithm that "returned the longest path in about 10 minutes," according to their study uploaded to arXiv. On a flat map, the path appears to curve, though it's in fact straight when visualized on a globe. For fun, the researchers also used the algorithm to find the longest straight-line route over land without hitting water. It's a 6,985-mile path starting in China and ending in Portugal. (Read about one of the worst sailing disasters in US history.)

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