Evidence of Continental Drift, in Highway Road Signs

by Tim Palucka
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

During a recent automobile trip to Washington, D.C., the author noted with alarm that two cities, Washington and Baltimore, appeared to be moving away from each other.

Figure 1.

Materials and Methods

The author made his observations while driving on route I-70 from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C.

I used the following equipment:

1) a 1996 Saturn 4-door sedan (silver) equipped with an in-dash chronometer; and

2) a 35-millimeter camera.

Time measurements between road signs were taken, and photographs of the road signs were made using 400-speed color film.

A bag of tortilla chips was consumed during the experiment. Later mathematical modeling and analysis showed both the bag and the chips to be unrelated to the main results of this study.


Two observations tell the story.

An interval of 48 minutes, as recorded by the in-dash chronometer, elapsed between the taking of the photographs that are here labeled Figure 1 and Figure 2.

Figure 2.

In the first observation (see Figure 1), it is clear that Washington and Baltimore were 125 and 127 miles distant, respectively. The two cities were—at that time—separated from each other by a distance of 2 miles.

The second observation (see Figure 2) was made just 48 minutes later. At that time, Washington and Baltimore were 67 and 71 miles distant, respectively. The separation between the two cities had increased from 2 miles to 4 miles.

A simple calculation shows that, during that 48 minute period, a drift of 2 miles had occurred between the cities. The drift rate was a whopping 220 feet per minute (2.5 miles per hour).


A late-twentieth-century USGS topographical map of the northeastern United States, including the Baltimore-Washington region. This map may have to be revised.

Ruling out time dilation effects (which we can do because our Saturn automobile never exceeded the 65 miles-per-hour legal speed limit, which is several magnitudes of order below the speed of light), the most likely explanation is the existence of a previously unknown tectonic plate, with a fault line lying somewhere between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland.

The discovery of this plate (call it, say, the “Palucka Plate”) and the associated fault line (which I propose to call “Not Palucka’s Fault”) marks a new chapter in the history of geotectonic research.


The drift rate greatly exceeds reported drift rates of other tectonic plates, which are generally on the order of 1 inch per year. This has many implications. The most immediate is that the White House, the Capitol, the Smithsonian Institution and other government buildings will become beachfront property in just a matter of days from now. This implication itself has implications, which unfortunately are beyond the scope of the current paper.


This article is republished with permission from the November-December 2007 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

Visit their website for more research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.

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Usually this happens when the route of the road is changed. I know a road I often travel on in the UK has been improved constantly over the decades. All that straightening and bypasses has removed a lot of mileage when comparing older signs at the start of the route to the actual mileometer.

With this example, if it is only two miles, then surely this is just a rounding error somewhere? Fractions rarely appear on signs.
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