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The Lure of Long Distances: A Quiz

Posted by Richard Conniff on January 2, 2013

ancient_canoe_in_doldrums2

Ancient Polynesian canoe (Herb Kane)

Great journeys have a powerful hold on the human imagination.  We love the idea, if only from an armchair, of cutting loose from the comforts of everyday life and venturing into uncharted worlds, with no certain destination, and no guarantee of safe return.  In its January issue, National Geographic magazine begins a series of seven quizzes, written by me with help from my wife Karen Conniff, celebrating the spirit of exploration.  I’ll post the first round of questions over the next few days, starting with this puzzler:

1.   A daring voyage in open canoes across thousands of miles of ocean brought the original settlers to Easter Island.  This tiny mid-Pacific “navel of the world” is closest to the longitude of which city?

a. Honolulu, Hawaii
b.  Juneau, Alaska
c.  Santiago, Chile
d.  Moab, Utah

And the answer isworld-map-easter-island-rapa-nui

1. (d) Easter Island (109°37′ W) lies almost directly south of Moab, Utah (109°75′ W).  The original Polynesian settlers are thought to have reached the island more than 800 years ago after traveling almost 2400 miles from the Marquesas Islands.  Curiously, Easter Island is now governed by Chile, 2300 miles to the east (and due south of Boston).

NOTE:  Here’s a link for more information about Trans-Pacific voyagers.  Thanks for research help to Claire Saravia and Meaghan Mulholland

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