The Weekend Assignment: Math

What did we learn from last weekend’s assignment on travel?

Let us begin at the beginning with the migration of Homo Sapiens (that’s us) from Africa through to Eurasia around 70,000 years ago.

By 40,000 years BCE humanity expanded to Australia, Asia and Europe.

After that, around 20,000 to 15,000 years ago, humanity migrated to the Americas across a glacier land bridge that connected Siberia and Alaska.

This Homo Sapien migration across the world took thousands of years and it all happened before the invention of the wheel and the cart. The wheel was invented near the end of the Neolithic period, which began about 10,200 BCE and ended around 4500 BCE and 2000 BC. The cart or chariot was invented between 2200 and 1550 BCE.

The invention of the road can be said to coincide with the invention of the wheel, but roads or paths have existed as long as humanity.

One of the earliest highways was the Royal Road which was built under the Persian king Darius the Great (Darius I). This highway stretched 1677 miles between Susa to Sardis. It was created to reduce the travel time between the cities so that communication could happen faster. A Persian courier would travel the Royal Road by horse in just 7 days. By foot it would have taken 90 days.

The most famous ancient road system was that of the Roman Empire. The road system began around 300 BCE and upon its height the roads covered over 250,000 miles.

Today the longest road system resides in the United States of America and is over 4,000,000 miles long.

Ocean travel coincided with humanity’s expansion across the globe, with ocean travel being a necessity for humanity to migrate to South Asia, Australia and the Pacific.

Between 900 AD and 1430 AD the Vikings explored and colonized Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland. Between that time a Norse explore from Iceland, called Leif Erikson, is said to be the first European to discover North America. He made his discovery around 1002 AD, 500 years before Christopher Columbus.

Skipping ahead a few hundred years to 1831 and we have the beginning of the Voyage of the Beagle. The HMS Beagle being a British Navy ship that has been made famous by one of its occupants, Charles Darwin. During the voyage Darwin spent most of his time exploring on land and taking notes on various forms of life. Upon his return 5 years later he wrote a book titled The Voyage of the Beagle. This book was written before he had fully formed his theory of evolution.

In 1977, 146 years after Darwin set sail in the beagle, NASA launched the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes. The probes have been in operation for over 39 years with the Voyager 1 probe being over 12.9 billion miles from earth or over 19 light hours away.

If Voyager 1 is 12.9 billion miles away and it took 39 years to reach that distance then how fast has it been traveling? This brings us to this week’s Weekend Assignment, Math.

Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to learn something new around the theme of Math.

Share what you learn with us on Twitter by tagging us and using #SaylorAssignment or start the conversation on Discourse.

Start the discussion at