States That Are Flatter Than Kansas

Remember the research we posted that proved that Kansas is indeed flatter than a pancake? Geographers Jerome Dobson and Joshua Campbell took exception to the methods used in that study, and indeed it is a case of comparing apples and oranges. Still, the two things being compared came straight from the old adage. Dobson and Campbell did their own research into the matter.

For their study, The Flatness of U.S. States, the pair developed a measure of human-scale perception of flatness by creating an algorithm that approximated what a person of average height would see if they were standing in a given spot and turning around in a circle, taking in 16 different views in a revolution. Then they took elevation data for the country from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, divided the contiguous U.S. (sorry, Alaska and Hawaii, but they already figured you wouldn’t be the flattest) into 90-meter cells and ran the algorithm to get a flatness score for each cell (calculated by the number of views in the cell that appeared flat: 0-4 flat views was considered “not flat”; 5-8 flat views, flat; 9-12, flatter and 13-16, flattest). Each state was then measured in terms of percentage of land that was not flat, flat, flatter and flattest, and then ranked.

It turned out that Kansas is not even in the top five the flattest states in the States! Kansas actually came in seventh. Try to guess which state is actually the flattest in the union before you learn the answer at mental_floss.

(Image credit: Flickr user Patrick Emerson)


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