Fresh Steps

Imagine that every human footstep since Gen 1 left an indelible, visible footprint, like walking in half an inch of fresh snow.  Then we would be able to see the places on the earth where man has never stepped, for surely there are places.  Only a few (linear) trails have reached the summit of Everest; the vast majority of square feet on its slopes have never been trod.  Across the expanses of the great deserts (Sahara, Gobi, Mojave) people have criss-crossed, but certainly they have never managed to trample every square inch (and I’m not talking about individual nomadic grains of sand, but permanent, GPS-registered areas of earth surface).  Or how about the jungles of South America, or Africa, or the forests of Alaska, or the frozen emptiness of Antartica.  Or how about the naked, boulder-strewn wilderness around the teeming metropolis of San Diego?  Obviously, a number of native tribes  (e.g. the Kumeyaay) inhabited this region thousands of years ago, but they were not densely populated enough to step on everything.
What percentage of Earth’s dry surface has been walked on?   How many fresh steps occur nowadays?  Have I (you?) ever made a fresh step?  How far away from me right now is the closest fresh step opportunity?


4 Responses

  1. Do you know anyone who’s been to Indiana?

  2. Do I know myself? Or did you not mean such a deep question? I know a guy that was born in just the right place/time in Indiana (where they have local disputes over timezone boundaries and daylight savings and such) that the difference between the hospital he was born in, and the county office that created his birth certificate, caused him to have two birthdays.

  3. So the contintents have been shifting around, and each location is redefined in some sense. Sand blows around, rocks roll down mountains. Are you talking about footsteps placed in an absolute coordinate system? If so, wait for a bit more continental shift and you’re sorted.

  4. As absolute a coordinate system as can be defined. If you want to get technical about it, the current dry earth's crust is probably about the same as pangaea, except that it moved. So, as continents drift, let "location" morph along with them (just like #1's facial features in the morphing video). If I were to stand still for m/billions of years, that would define one "location". Any newly-appearing land masses (e.g. volcanic islands) would be eligible for fresh steps. Any disappearing shorelines would become ineligible for fresh steps. As for any "location" that might have been dry, and then got wet, and then dry again, I'll allow for fresh step re-eligibility after a period of 100 years of continuous wetness.

    Does that help you answer the question properly, Mr. Smartypants? 

    (Of course, this question becomes much more well-defined if the Earth is only 6K years old!)

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