After Hours

Geek Trivia: What is the only man-made border consistently visible from space?

What is the only man-made political border consistently visible from space? Our Trivia Geek provides the answer.

Thanks in no small part to modern technology and paranoia, the border between India and Pakistan is visible every night from Earth orbit. In an effort to curb illegal border crossings, India erected in 2003 an unbroken, overlapping series of floodlights along the entire length of its shared border with Pakistan. This border is distinctly visible to the naked eye from orbit, both for its scale and its amber hue.

Twitter-savvy astronaut Ron Garan (@astro_ron) snapped a picture of the illuminated India-Pakistan border from the International Space Station on Aug. 17, 2011. He took a follow-up shot on Aug. 21 which shows — despite competing nighttime illumination from Islamabad and New Delhi — the India-Pakistan border is distinctly visible from space at night.

Now, the India-Pakistan border is a mere 1,800 miles, well short of even the most conservative length estimates of the Great Wall of China. Whether a string of lights proves more effective at controlling a border than a series of clay fortifications remains to be seen, but India's barricade has one distinct advantage over China's famous Wall — it's shiny enough to be indisputably seen from outer space.

That's not just a definitively dazzling demarcation; it's a fascinatingly fortified fixture of Geek Trivia.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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