Interesting measurements and party tricks to impress your friends. 

Some things people do when they get lost:

– get to high elevation

– try to walk in a straight line

– create a base location and search the radius around it, returning to it frequently

– stay in one spot

The last is apparently the most effective.


– people walk about 3 miles per hour.

– 1000 paces is a mile, since roman times.

– A furlong which is a farming measure of how long furrows were (220 yards), ends up being part of the English definition of a mile — 8 furlongs.

– nautical miles are actually close – 1.15 miles – though they are based on latitude-longitude – one arc minute is a nautical mile

– and knots – from the British Navy’s way of measuring speed putting a log in the water and how many knots in the rope between the boat and the log.

Three common myths about navigation —

– moss. It’s very hard to use the “northside” adage. It’s hard to even recognize moss. 

– churches face roughly east. True. 

– DirectTv dishes in US northeast point toward Peru. Southwest. True. 

And finally the coolest estimation technique. If you know either how big something is or about how far you can get the other. Check it:

– estimate the angular dimension (one fingers width of an extended arm is 1.5 degrees, three fingers about 5)

– then compute:  distance in miles = height / (100 X degrees)

So check this picture of my hand viewing the WTC from my place:

Three fingers tall. 4.5 degrees. It’s about three miles away (guesstimate). 

3 = X feet height / (100 feet X 4.5 degrees)

1350 feet =  height

Here’s what Wikipedia says about the WTC:

Top floor‎: ‎1,268 ft (386.5 m)‎