In this age of internet technology and satellites floating overhead bouncing data in all directions at mind numbing speeds; it’s quite easy to forget just how big this world is.
It was kind of brought home to me a month or so ago where I watched a documentary on life in the 20th Century. The presenter noted that in 1900 the only way to get a message from London to New York was pretty much through letter and via a ship.
If you were lucky the message would reach its intended reader in about three weeks. Depending on the weather.
Only 60 years later you could travel from London to New York in under four hours on the world’s only supersonic passenger craft; the now defunct Concorde.
But even then communications satellites were starting to go up and hover in geostationary orbit, allowing people all over the world to watch The Beatles sing about how all you really need is love.
In the 1800s, settlers setting out from England for New Zealand faced a nine month journey, assuming the weather held and they didn’t float aimlessly in the doldrums for several weeks.
Now, on Twitter I have a friend, Cindy, who lives in North Carolina. I called her up a week or so ago just to say hi. And despite living some 14,000km apart (that’s about 9000 miles) there were no discernible delays as we waited for our voices to be electronified, processed through the data exchange, beamed to a satellite, beamed to another satellite, beamed down to another exchange, de-processed and sent to her portable telephone; which, in deference to the distance my voice had travelled, promptly went flat.
OK, maybe not promptly.
Now, let’s say for the sake of argument that we all still lived on Gondwanaland, but today’s distances applied. Or that I had a sea-going car that goes roughly the same speed over water as it does over land.
Right, so I fill my car with gas, pull out from Wellington Harbour and head north-east towards Los Angeles. The speed limit here is 100kph, and for safety’s sake, and for ease of calculation, I’ll stick with that.
"I spy with my little eye, something beginning with `s'."
"I spy with my little eye, something beginning with `h'."
Assuming I had a buddy I could share the driving with, we would cover 2400km a day. So, if we left at midnight Sunday (to avoid the traffic) we’d pull in at Marina Del Rey about noon on Friday. Oh, but then there’s that bloody time differential to consider. Right, so we’d drive for four-and-a-half days and finally pull in at LA about 4am on Thursday. Which would be good, because, again, we’d beat the traffic.
After stopping for breakfast at Carl’s Jr (I hope they're open 24-hours), we’d be North Carolina bound. At only 3400km away, that would only be a day-and-a-half’s drive. We’d be pulling into Charlotte at about 7pm on Saturday.
Then we’d hoon off out to Cindy’s place, only to find that she already has company and it would be more convenient if we could come back next weekend.
My fault entirely. I should have dropped her an email to let her know I was on my way.