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Screenshot From Randalolson.com

Road Trip Genius Calculates the Shortest Route Through 47 National Parks

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Screenshot From Randalolson.com

The National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its 100th birthday on August 25. While hitting every NPS property in the system between now and then would be quite the challenge, this route spotted by The Washington Post is a great place to start.

The “Optimal U.S. National Parks Centennial Road Trip” map is the creation of road trip mastermind Randy Olson. The trip includes stops at all 47 national parks in mainland America (for the sake of practicality, the 12 national parks in Alaska, Hawaii, and other U.S. territories were left out).

Olson came up with the ideal route by plugging his destinations into the Gurobi TSP solver. TSP, or the Traveling Salesman Problem, refers to calculating the shortest route between a number of cities and ending up back where you started. It’s the same task he faced when creating the ultimate road trip across America and the optimal strategy for searching for Waldo.

To complete this latest trip, Olson suggests drivers set aside at least two months to fully take in the 14,500 miles worth of sites. It follows a circular route, so travelers can enter at any point they like from North Cascades in Washington to Dry Tortugas in Florida. For true NPS enthusiasts, this list is just the beginning: The service also includes hundreds of monuments, battlefields, and historic sites not included on the map.

[h/t The Washington Post]

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technology
Google Maps Is Getting a Makeover With More Icons and Colors
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Prepare to get used to some big changes to your Google Maps app. The tech giant announced in a blog post that it’s changing the tool’s design to better highlight information that’s relevant to your journey.

The first update can be seen when switching between modes of transportation. If you’re driving from your home to work, for example, Maps will show you gas stations along your route, but switch to public transit and train stations will pop up instead.

The app’s color scheme has also been given a makeover. All points of interest (POI) that appear on the map are now color-coded. Looking for the nearest restaurant? Food and drink POI are orange. Need some retail therapy? Shopping icons are blue. Hospitals (pink), churches (gray), outdoor spaces (green), and more are included in the new system.

Within the larger categories, Google has introduced dozens of specialized icons to indicate subcategories. Banks are marked with a dollar sign, cafes with a coffee cup, etc.

“The world is an ever-evolving place,” Google Maps product manager Liz Hunt wrote in the blog post. “Now, we’re updating Google Maps with a new look that better reflects your world, right now.”

This overhaul is the latest way Google Maps is evolving to make life more convenient for its users. In the past year, the app has rolled out features that allow you to locate your parked car and to check how crowded attractions are at certain times. The new design changes will start appearing over the next few weeks.

Phones with maps app open.
Google

Color key for Google Maps.
Google

Icons for Google Maps.
Google
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History
Found: A Rare Map of Australia, Created During the 17th Century
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Courtesy of Sotheby's

More than 40 years before Captain James Cook landed on Australia’s eastern coast in 1770, renowned Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu created an early map of the Land Down Under. Using geographical information gleaned from Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in the 1640s, it was the first map to include the island state of Tasmania and name New Zealand, and the only one to call Australia “Nova Hollandia.”

Very few copies—if any—of the 1659 map, titled Archipelagus Orientalis (Eastern Archipelago), were thought to have survived. But in 2010, a printing was discovered in a Swedish attic. After being restored, the artifact is newly on display at the National Library of Australia, in the capital city of Canberra, according to news.com.au.

The seller’s identity has been kept under wraps, but it’s thought that the map belonged to an antiquarian bookseller who closed his or her business in the 1950s. For decades, the map sat amidst other papers and books until it was unearthed in 2010 and put up for auction.

The National Library acquired the 17th century wall map in 2013 for approximately $460,000. After a lengthy restoration process, it recently went on display in its Treasures Gallery, where it will hang until mid-2018.

As for other surviving copies of the map: a second version was discovered in a private Italian home and announced in May 2017, according to Australian Geographic. It ended up selling for more than $320,000.

[h/t news.com.au]

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