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Continental Divide

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Continental Divide

Postby Neel Mehta » Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:43 pm

From Ken's blog (February 8, 2016):

Here’s a geography question if you have a few minutes to kill, and want to spend them thinking about geography for some reason.

The fifty U.S. states vary widely in area, obviously. Even if you list the states in descending order of area, there are some big gaps. The largest state, Alaska, has 2.2 times the land area of the runner-up, Texas. Texas, in turn, has 1.7 times the land area of #3, California.

But the biggest gap in the list comes further down, where two states are adjacent in the ordered-by-area list, even though one is a whopping 2.5 times bigger than the other. Even weirder, they’re real-life neighbors as well. (They share a border.)

What are these two states, which make up the biggest proportional gap in the otherwise fairly smooth curve of U.S. state areas?


I had to look up the answer, which I didn't know and won't provide here, but I correctly suspected there would be
Spoiler: show
a big drop off between the medium-sized states and the small states.
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Re: Continental Divide

Postby Ken Jennings » Tue Feb 09, 2016 5:19 pm

Yeah, I had a sense that there was a big gap there, but I don't know if I could have picked the
Spoiler: show
smallest "medium-sized"
state and the
Spoiler: show
biggest "small"
state, even if I knew they were right next to each other.
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Re: Continental Divide

Postby Bill » Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:18 pm

I haven't looked it up, but I did read the hints posted above by Neel and Ken.

My best guess:

Spoiler: show
Maryland and Delaware
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Re: Continental Divide

Postby Ken Jennings » Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:41 pm

Bill wrote:I haven't looked it up, but I did read the hints posted above by Neel and Ken.

My best guess:

Spoiler: show
Maryland and Delaware


You're on the right track. But there are actually six states (essentially all the "tiny" states but Rhode Island) in between those two.
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Re: Continental Divide

Postby Bill » Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:47 pm

I looked it up.

The smaller of my two states is much, much smaller than I've always thought it was.
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Re: Continental Divide

Postby e zimmerman » Fri Feb 12, 2016 1:32 pm

My first guess was
Spoiler: show
PA
and
Spoiler: show
MD
.
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Re: Continental Divide

Postby marpocky » Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:06 pm

CT and RI are actually 5 times apart in size, though there's a state in between them (on the list I mean, not some sort of Being-John-Malkovich no man's land).
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Re: Continental Divide

Postby Ken Jennings » Sun Feb 28, 2016 2:11 pm

Just to (eventually) post the actual answer:
There is no state smaller than
Spoiler: show
West Virginia
but bigger than
Spoiler: show
Maryland
.
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