Why Experts Can't Agree on the Lengths of the World's Coastlines

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iStock

Measuring the distance between two places on a map is pretty straightforward. But if you want to calculate how long a shoreline is, things can get complicated. Just search "U.S. coastline length" and you'll find that results can vary by tens of thousands of miles.

How can cartographers come up with numbers that differ so wildly if they're all measuring the same thing? The answer, according to the video below from RealLifeLore, lies in a phenomenon called the Coastline Paradox.

Measuring the East Coast of the U.S. isn't the same as calculating the miles separating the tip of Florida from the tip of Maine. A coast doesn't follow a straight line. It's made up of divots and curves that start to multiply the closer you zoom in on the map. Accounting for every single detail of the coast is impossible. One, because the shore is always changing shape, and two, because these intricacies go all the way down to the molecular level.

That means cartographers have to pick a unit of measurement with which to estimate the length of the coast. If one team measures in miles and another measures in units of 100 miles, their results will look very different. Smaller measurements produce longer and, technically, more accurate numbers. But at some point, if you keep drilling down to smaller and smaller units, the length of a coastline appears to approach infinity—which doesn't seem entirely right, either. So every measurement of a coastline you see is really just a rough estimate.

The Coastline Paradox isn't the only complication that makes cartography an imperfect science. Even Mount Everest's title as the world's tallest mountain isn't totally uncontested.

Learn more about the Coastline Paradox in the video below.

[h/t RealLifeLore]

Which Country Is the Landmark From?

The 10 Most Stressed-Out States in America

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iStock.com/Creative-Family

Stress levels are on the rise across the U.S. According to an American Psychiatric Association-sponsored survey, nearly 40 percent of people reported feeling more anxious in 2018 than they did last year. But tensions are running higher in some states than others. To see which states have the most stressed-out residents, check out the list below from Zippia.

To compile the ranking, the job search engine scored each state in America on six criteria: commute times, unemployment rates, work hours, population density, home price to income ratio, and rates of uninsured residents. After sifting through data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey for 2012 through 2016, they came up with the top 10 states where stress levels are highest.

New Jersey nabbed the top spot because of its lengthy commute times, long work hours, and a high housing cost to income ratio. Georgia, with its high unemployment and uninsured rates, came in second place. And despite all the sunshine and beautiful coastlines, Florida and California residents still have plenty to be stressed about, with the states ranking third and fourth, respectively.

1. New Jersey
2. Georgia
3. Florida
4. California
5. New York
6. Louisiana
7. Maryland
8. North Carolina
9. Virginia
10. Mississippi

The most stressed-out states in America tend to fall on the coasts, with Midwestern states like Minnesota, North Dakota, and Iowa enjoying the lowest stress levels, according to a 2017 analysis from WalletHub. To see where your state ranks, you can check out the full map of high-anxiety states on Zippia's website. If you see your home state near the top of the list, consider implementing a few of these relaxation strategies into your daily routine.

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