1 Comment »Posted on Tuesday 21 April 2009 at 4:17 pm by Jacob Aron
In Climate Change & Environment

With posts about the Sun and Moon today I thought perhaps I should bring things back down to Earth. New Scientist this week reported that we live in an increasingly hyperconnected world. According to researchers at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy, working in conjunction with the World Bank, less than 10% of the world’s land is further than 48 hours by ground travel away from a city.

Using a model which calculated the travel time to the nearest city of over 50,000 people, they found that the most remote place in the world is on the this point on the Tibetan plateau, at 34.7° N, 85.7° E. From here it will take three weeks to get to the nearest cities of Lhasa or Korla, with one day by car and the rest on foot. Even Google admits defeat when asked to calculate directions.

The researchers plotted their findings on a colour-coded map which reveals the interesting pathways which criss-cross the globe:

The map's colours represent travel time to the nearest city. Click for a larger view.
The map's colours represent travel time to the nearest city. Click for a larger view.

The branching networks present in many countries invoke images of a central nervous system, as well as of fractal geometry. Both descriptions certainly relate to the way humans have spread throughout the planet.

New Scientist have ten maps in total of our networked world, including railway distribution and all the planet’s rivers. With the world becoming increasingly connected online, it’s nice to be reminded of our physical connections as well.


  1. One Comment

  2. Whoa. I love how you can see the rivers in the Amazon jungle…

    By Neuroskeptic on Tuesday 21 April, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.