Why Nobody Knows the World’s Longest River

  • Published on Sep 23, 2021
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Comments • 3 357

  • Gabriel de Moura
    Gabriel de Moura 7 months ago +3361

    As a Brazilian, I will accept any measurement that shows that the Amazon is longer than the Nile, even if you have to count Pedro's toilet pipes that dump into the river to increase its length.

    • pletskoo
      pletskoo 2 days ago

      lol I don't get it is this some sort of competition? if yes then thats a really stupid one

    • GemScythe
      GemScythe 5 days ago


    • Ruan Alexandre
      Ruan Alexandre Month ago

      @Xeon Elite dont defending the shitty government of Brazil, but is the most devastating area mostly because is the country with the most part of amazon

    • Ctrl+Alt+Defeat
      Ctrl+Alt+Defeat Month ago

      Nat geo society, Britanica, OSU: Nile - 4,132 miles || Amazon - 3,977 miles. Maybe brazil needs to call another research group.

  • Fábio Perez
    Fábio Perez 8 months ago +771

    If people are going to count the curve around Lake Victoria, why wouldn't the Amazon River count the southern route?

    • -Petrichor-
      -Petrichor- 4 days ago

      @DanVGS 10:57 They added the mantaro, we could say that’s the starting point then why did they add the Apurimac river? 11:08 They added another river fro some unknown reason. (Probably because of bias.)

    • DanVGS
      DanVGS 4 days ago

      @-Petrichor- nope, on the amazon they never added more than one different route, it's the same route that comes from different tributaries, but it's still a constant line. watch the video again.

    • -Petrichor-
      -Petrichor- 5 days ago

      @DanVGS Then by your logic they should also add blue nile but they didn’t.

    • DanVGS
      DanVGS 5 days ago

      @-Petrichor- the white Nile is also a tributary to the Nile, so by your logic they should start counting only when the white and blue Niles merge

    • -Petrichor-
      -Petrichor- Month ago

      @Jayit The counted a tributary of a tributary of a tributary and that’s not cheating but counting lake Victoria is?

  • M&H Racing
    M&H Racing 6 months ago +513

    Elementary school: The Nile River is the world's longest river!
    RealLifeLore: Are you sure about that mate?

    • Saitama Baldy
      Saitama Baldy Month ago

      Amerimutt "education"

    • Nankita D
      Nankita D Month ago +1

      @mm34nn_TTA I went to school both in Brazil and in Japan, and in both I was told the Amazon was the longest.

    • Neuzie
      Neuzie 2 months ago


    • mm34nn_TTA
      mm34nn_TTA 2 months ago

      @Tahar Touati Actually, China elementary schools teach the same thing. NILE longest Amazon largest.

    • Abigail Fernandes
      Abigail Fernandes 3 months ago +1

      as someone from amazonas (brazil) we always learned that the amazon river is the world's longest river ❤️

  • Finnian
    Finnian 7 months ago +62

    I'm from Colorado and I've hiked the tallest mountain in Colorado. The highest mountain and second highest mountains in Colorado are neighbors and there is only a difference of 10 feet between them. The two mountains are Mt Elbert (14,439 feet) and Mount Massive (14,429 feet). Here, it is tradition for many hikers to take a rock from the base of one of the mountains and carry it all the way to the top of their respective favorite and deposit it at the top. My rock is on the top of one of the mountains. I can't tell you which other than the fact that it is the tallest. I am suggest that surveyors of the respective Amazon and Nile rivers bring shovels with them next time. When they get to the source of their river... start digging.

  • Ninad Xperia
    Ninad Xperia 8 months ago +6503

    Instead of breaking the length in smaller parts of 10 KMs, you should have broken down into the lengths of Toyota Corolla

    • Travis Van Couvering
      Travis Van Couvering 24 days ago

      Easier to understand if you don’t know the metric system

    • hooDio
      hooDio 4 months ago

      i though bananas

    • It's Weeb Harsh
      It's Weeb Harsh 4 months ago

      Maybe put a banana for scale

    • Lucy Mae
      Lucy Mae 4 months ago

      Definitely would’ve found the correct length this way

  • Mshojat
    Mshojat 7 months ago +53

    I think there's some problems with what's being described here. Definitions of rivers aside (which _is_ a big issue; like whether lake Victoria counts as part of the river), there's no fractical problem and not much other measurement problem. You just need to measure the shortest distance possible. No running along the edge of land, and hence no fractal problem. When it does encounter land it only hits the "pointiest" tips, so it doesn't get much worse the more you zoom in. Sure there's still the issue of water levels changing the measurement distance, but that can be dealt with in it's own way (like measuring at max an min)

    • 無無
      無無 Month ago

      @DoubleMonk050607 Mendoza What? That doesn't matter because meters are universally defined as the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum in 1/299 792 458 of a second. A centimeter, milimeter, or nanometer's definitions are derived from the definition of a meter. You will get the same result regardless of metric.

    • Samuel Voltz
      Samuel Voltz 2 months ago +1

      The only problem with this is that for practical purposes, measuring the shortest distance possible would be misleading for boats that have to travel the river and want to know the distance they have to travel.

    • DoubleMonk050607 Mendoza
      DoubleMonk050607 Mendoza 4 months ago

      @TJ, plus, where is the center. Do you measure it down to 100 meters, 50, 10, 1? What is 1 meter is too much? Let's try a centimeter, a millimeter, or a nanometer

    • TJ
      TJ 7 months ago +2

      But there is. Did you not pay attention? Using centimeters allows you to follow the river and always be centered in the river, using kilometers sometimes allows you to be in the river, sometimes jumping over land because it can only be so curved and still measured accurately. Using a different scale greatly changes how long a river is as well as makes way for the country border paradox the narrator also mentioned. Theoretically this problem becomes more and more of an issue the smaller your scale is / despite a smaller scale being more closely accurate.

  • George Harris
    George Harris 7 months ago +264

    Rivers are not infinitely long, even if you use infinitely small measurements. In mathematic, there is a concept known as limits. I can understand the issue with measuring some rivers, like the Amazon, because they have so many tributaries. But the curves would only cause the river to reach a limit of so long.

    • kakaokuh
      kakaokuh 2 months ago

      @Loll0saurus Who measures rivers by the shoreline? That doesn't make any sense.

    • Incendiary
      Incendiary 2 months ago

      @Neeraj Krishnan G at what point does 'land' stop? How far from the beach? Does it change with the tide? What if the land near the water isn't accessible to be measured?

    • MJW238
      MJW238 4 months ago

      @Neeraj Krishnan G But that length could be ridiculously long - far longer than any sane person would say the length of a country’s coastline actually is.
      And which coastline is longer will depend on how fine grained you get.

    • Loll0saurus
      Loll0saurus 4 months ago +1

      You are wrong. If you decide to measure the lenght by using river bank and infinitely small measurements, the limit approaches infinity.

    • Jarad Doyon
      Jarad Doyon 4 months ago +5

      Correct. What he says in the video is wrong.

  • Piotr Zaborski
    Piotr Zaborski 7 months ago +28

    Coastline paradox arises mostly from lines heavily zig-zagging in tiny scales. But rivers are not one-dimensional lines, they have widths, so I believe the paradox can easily be avoided with carefully chosen definitions. For example: given two points A and B on the river, the distance between A and B is the shortest distance one would have to travel while remaining on the river surface. That should smooth out any zig-zags. Now all you have to do is choose such A and B that would maximise the distance (B obviously should be adjacent to a sea or ocean). That should not only bypass the coastline paradox but also prevent such "tricks" like adding the lake coastline instead of a shorter path across the lake.

  • Xi Jinping-习近平
    Xi Jinping-习近平 8 months ago +22

    The narration, the hard work done by the team, and especially the editing is just extremely good.

  • Dedzan Kemal
    Dedzan Kemal 8 months ago +6851

    We all know who found the true source of the Nile: Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond.

  • Greg
    Greg 7 months ago +6

    My rules for river measurements:
    1, Take the longest continuous waterway that exists in the same river system. (Despite what name it is called)
    2, Measure the length of the actual riverflow, like you were on a ship following it. So yes, every curve counts, and not just the distance that the river bridges across.
    3, Always use the river's center line for determining the river's length.
    4, Always take the longer rout around islands, and at the river's mouth.

  • insertcleverphrasehere
    insertcleverphrasehere 5 months ago +2

    I'd measure it by shortest travel distance (as if by boat). This would jump edge to edge of the river, but would at least be consistent for all rivers, and take into account any amount of bending. It also has a reasonable reason for measuring this way; if you wanted to travel the river by boat or kayak, this is the minimum distance you would have to travel.
    It doesn't entirely eliminate the "make the segments shorter and the river gets longer" problem, as you still have to travel the inside curves of river bends. :/

  • Bob Kelso
    Bob Kelso 7 months ago +107

    The fractalness of water is easy to see. Just realize that every stream of water is in itself just like a river, feeding into an ever bigger river. They're all the same, but just at different sizes. Which explains why you can't truly measure the longest river, as you'd never be able to stop with each infinitisemaly small stream, which are always changing in lengths, sizes, and paths.

    • TinyHippo
      TinyHippo 4 months ago

      They also flow different directions hence making them different rivers. Also having different start points and the same end point are 2 different rivers. At the meeting point you can argue they are arbitrary.

    • Yore Mothra
      Yore Mothra 7 months ago

      @F F Nay lass, I just want us all to create river art, and stop quarreling over which has more droplets. :)

    • F F
      F F 7 months ago +4

      @Yore Mothra by your definition, a short and wide river can be longer than a narrow and long river

    • Yore Mothra
      Yore Mothra 7 months ago

      Ok then, fair enough. Let us instead paint scaled down replicas of each river and see which required more pigment.
      BAM, easy, y'all welcome

    • jryde421
      jryde421 7 months ago

      Right, the names of the rivers are arbitrary. So we renames parts the same name.

  • SunGod97
    SunGod97 2 months ago +3

    I don’t think the limit of the river’s length as you reduce the unit to 0 is actually infinite. It will just approach the true path length of the river, which is kind of like a line integral over that curve. Rivers aren’t infinitely nested repeating fractals, contrary to the analogous image you showed lol.

  • Penguin
    Penguin 2 months ago +2

    Let’s take the moment to appreciate how much effort RealLifeLore puts into his content for us. Great job

  • HumanStone
    HumanStone 8 months ago +6

    A different, albeit pretty impractical, method of measurement is to release a floating tracking device, record the distance and route it travelled, and then re-do the process to refine the result. Ideally, this process would be done hundreds, if not thousands, of times until the average distance through every tributary and distributary (where the river splits to 2 or more different rivers, usually occurs at rivers' deltas, but could also happen before that).
    Although it isn't the end-all, be-all solution -- for example, what would happen if the device enters a lake, floats aimlessly on the lake's surfaces, increasing the measured distance, before flowing out from the lake's mouth into a different river? But this method might help to better understand the distance a water droplet travels, the likely course, the volume, and the duration.

  • Caz Walt
    Caz Walt 8 months ago +28

    The problem is that they don't have clear rules to measure the rivers length because I think when measuring the length they should take the widest tributary for example not just the one that will make the river longer

  • Ice 9 Snowflake
    Ice 9 Snowflake 4 months ago +1

    I used to have a "mileage pen" that when rolled across a map would give the number of miles from start to finish. I expect that a more precise and accurate sort of device could do this measuring- and all one would have to do is run it on the length of a river.
    This would certainly tell one how far one would travel when following the river from start to end. That's not "really" the actual geographical length of the river, I suppose, but it would tell you how far you'd have to sail to get up or down it. That seems to be the real meaning of "longest" river in practical terms.

  • Jay Straw
    Jay Straw 8 months ago +1042

    As a human, whose ability to conceptualize comes from my experience as a human, I think the standard unit should be a small vessel, say 4m, riding centered between banks (in cases where the water splits and comes back together, it should be whichever channel is larger). This, to me, would give the lengths meaning. This doesn't happen with road lengths, or the distances between cities. Also, I chose 4m for the length of the vessel/resolution, because I had a 12 foot long alumicraft and it was the perfect size for a couple friends and a case of beer.

    • apparition13
      apparition13 Month ago

      @obviously matt Don't measure the center, sail it. Or row it. Or motor it. It'll give you a good enough result. Though I might go for a canoe. Well, not me. Someone who would actually want to row the rivers. With a GPS. Any volunteers? :)

    • Mark Ferguson
      Mark Ferguson 3 months ago +1

      You convinced me at ' case of beer'

    • bdis89
      bdis89 4 months ago

      I csn hear your voice as I read

    • bilanoid22
      bilanoid22 4 months ago

      @Jay Straw lmao room for one more crew? I got 🔥🌲🌲🌲's...

    • Dan Arnets
      Dan Arnets 4 months ago

      That's how traditional racetracks are measured IIRC (either that or is the average between the inside and outside lines, I don't remember)
      Meanwhile, NASCAR ovals are measured like 15ft/4,5m away from the outside wall/line, which means all of NASCAR's measurements are bullshit because EVERYBODY uses a shorter racing line. No car has ever traveled 500 miles to finish the Daytona 500.
      My only doubt is for places like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is NOT a NASCAR oval but isn't a traditional racetrack

  • Jonas Kircher
    Jonas Kircher 7 months ago +2

    I understand how fractals make it impossible to get a precise measurement of the length of a coastline but for rivers there must be smarter options.
    My suggestion: you send lets say 100 small GPS tracked floating devices down a river, measure how long the path was each of them took, middle it out and that's your length. For this you only need to reach one accepted consensus on where a river starts, after that you'd have only numbers and no more opinions.
    Something similar can't be applied to coastlines but everyone could agree that it makes no practical sense to measure a coastline in any smaller fractions than 10 metres. Once everyone uses the same denominator you will again be able to compare results.
    Of course this information is of questionable value, it's not scientifically valuable and if we are only using it for country cock comparing contests then the time of scientists is probably best invested elsewhere.

  • Christel Vinot
    Christel Vinot 7 months ago +14

    I love rivers man. They're like natural magical roads through the wilderness where you can float and explore until the end of time.

    • Robert Rodrigues
      Robert Rodrigues Month ago

      I love rivers man. They're like natural magical roads through the wilderness where you can float and explore until you are fatigued and eventually drown surrounded by piranhas... Sorry, just felt funny to write it like that :D

  • Edward Blair
    Edward Blair 8 months ago

    When a river takes multiple paths from point A to Point B (for example, around an island), shouldn't you take into account how much volume of water flows along each branch? Either choose the branch with the most flow, or take a weighted average of them.
    This could easily be used to decide where the "endpoint" of the Amazon or Nile river is (or at least the average distance from the last comon point and the ocean). It is less useful for determining the staring point of a river.

  • Orange W
    Orange W 8 months ago +1

    Personally I feel like the length of a river should be the addition of all of the tributaries put together. Kinda like, if you wanted to travel on every section of the Nile, how long is your journey, not counting cut backs to go over bits you've already been on. Just feels more intuitive to me. Like say you have a 'map' of a river made with string, with obv separate strings connected where they diverge and converge. I feel like the length is how much string you need, not how much is the longest uncut piece of string you have. Wrt lakes I feel like they should pick a mid point and travel in a straight line through the midpoint when the river travels through the lake. Although picking a midpoint is always controversial, but I'll think about how I want to define that later.

  • bouytt guyt
    bouytt guyt 7 months ago +8

    I just have to say that the Amazon River is so beautiful, its like a paradise. Amazon rainforest is a truly beautiful place, protect it!

  • Navjot Singh
    Navjot Singh 6 months ago

    "The length of the river approch to infinity as you take smaller measuring units"
    The length of the river doesnt approach to infinity as you take smaller units, it approaches to the actual length. Also, taking smaller units to measure doesnt necessarily increase the length of the river.

  • Christina Kinch
    Christina Kinch 7 months ago +2

    The major tributaries should definitely be considered when determining the length. They are afterall needed for bifurcation ratios.

  • Genshin's Bizzare Adventures
    Genshin's Bizzare Adventures 7 months ago +172

    Something : *exists slightly bigger than France
    RealLifeLore: *laughs in evil

  • I'm not sure
    I'm not sure 8 months ago +4190

    "Honey, I'll go out expedition to measure a river length"
    "Fine, but don't get too political"
    "I won't"

    • DanksterPaws
      DanksterPaws 3 months ago

      @Sokka I think they’re talking about how Austronesians settled Madagascar

    • yoshirox25
      yoshirox25 3 months ago


    • N4MEL3SS W0LF
      N4MEL3SS W0LF 5 months ago

      @Grand Theft Avocado they didn't need to

    • J Ty
      J Ty 5 months ago +3

      @Grand Theft Avocado Lots of people gave various answers but my answer is that travelling across a continent is not easy, especially in those days. There's bad guys, there's a need for food, disease.
      You could live your life along the Nile and just slowly make your way across, but it would take more than 100 years. What you need is a boat load of (non expiring) food, weapons to protect yourself from any raider, a doctor, a navigator. Essentially, it's a huge journey that even the ancient Romans couldn't complete.
      Some could live at the source, but unless they travelled the whole way down the river they'd never be able to prove that it was the source.

    • A Jar of “Mayonnaise”
      A Jar of “Mayonnaise” 6 months ago

      @jackie biskan ok

  • luuk trouw
    luuk trouw 7 months ago +4

    I would say the most fair way to measure is the following: imagine you have a really long measuring tape. Put it in de water, as long as you can continue rolling it out in the water, *as long as it stays stretched*, that measurement is the legal. The longest possible road can be taken.
    That way al branched are considered and no stupid bends are legal.

  • Jovan Weismiller
    Jovan Weismiller 8 months ago

    Yesterday, I happened to be looking at a map of the Big Blue River in Kansas and Nebraska. It's a tributary of the Kansas (Kaw) River. It rises near Aurora, Nebraska and flows into the Kaw at Manhattan, Kansas. It flows about a half-mile from our house, on its way to Marysville, Kansas where I'm originally from. It's about 60 miles by road between the two. I wouldn't even want to guess how long the river is between the two points, but I would 'guesstimate' somewhere between two and three times that far.

  • John Lee
    John Lee 7 months ago

    In short we just need standardization. Taking account into the best measuring unit, how to define the source and the end of a river, the tolerance of change in length of river over time, yada yada, etc. I believe someone in geology field must have done intensive research into all these, but political influence must have get into the way of reaching a conclusion.

  • Björn Apelqvist
    Björn Apelqvist 7 months ago +1

    The main stream is the way most water run through. Then the scale must be the same for all compared rivers. Still a strait river vs a very meander rich one may be much different depending on scale. You need to set an international standard as many other technical things.

  • Tarodenaro
    Tarodenaro 7 months ago +5

    I kinda wish we had EXPANDING river measuring instead, where the winner decided by the wide of the mouth of the delta.
    because, it's not how long but instead how better and more skillful you can use your river; also, thicker is better.

    • Justin
      Justin 6 months ago

      Bruh, just say u want The Amazon to be the longest

  • Anonymous Anonymous
    Anonymous Anonymous 7 months ago +13

    Adding the Missouri river to the lower Mississippi does NOT 'triple' the length because you have to subtract the upper Mississippi then. 3760 is NOT triple of 2348 miles.

  • Roger Sledz
    Roger Sledz Month ago

    Thank you so much for uploading this video. It is helping me get through the pandemic!

  • Ryan Stallings
    Ryan Stallings 4 months ago +1

    "you could measure more and more molecularly and your answer would keep moving towards infinity"
    what? how?? technically it keeps moving up, which is the direction of infinity, but it would not imply infinity in the same way that it would move towards the mathematically perfect answer that you could get from measuring the river in the way that you choose. maybe this was supposed to mean "your answer could change infinitely depending on how granularly you decide to measure it" and that would be true, but isn't the solution to this just standardization??? this feels like armchair philosopher "deep" talk trying to sound intellectual instead of a practical discussion of measuring the length of rivers.

  • Martijn Kösters
    Martijn Kösters 8 months ago +2051

    We all know, James May is the discoverer of the true source of the Nile.

    • ok
      ok 7 months ago


    • baileyboy73 baileyboy73
      baileyboy73 baileyboy73 7 months ago

      Amazon river wins. Call it a day.

    • Gab
      Gab 7 months ago +1

      Hamster would want to dispute that

    • Valiant
      Valiant 7 months ago

      There it is. The comment I was looking for👌

    • robert polk
      robert polk 8 months ago +1

      The Gramatti River is what are beloved Top Gear/Grand Tour Hosts traced to its' beginning. It's the father east, therefore the farthest from the Straight of Gibraltar. (Source of the Grammati, to Lake Victoria, to the Nile, through the Mediterranean Sea, to the Straight of Gibraltar.)

  • Hasaku Kitsune
    Hasaku Kitsune 8 months ago

    The amount of distance you travel walking aside it from the start to the end should be the indication of its length and the longest ending point since it’s still part of the river should indicate the end and start of the rivers

  • purpl3grape studios

    The important question to ask is: Did you measure from base to tip?

  • Arkansas Mapping
    Arkansas Mapping 7 months ago +1

    Love your videos! I’m in my schools quiz bowl team, and I learned most of it from you!

  • Arjay Legaspi
    Arjay Legaspi 8 months ago

    I always love your content! Please keep it up

  • Goron Elder
    Goron Elder 8 months ago +537

    I always thought it was silly they included Lake Victoria into the measurement. Lake Victoria is, well a lake, and while the source, does not constitute the river. It's measurement should be at the mouth of the where the two meet.
    I did some quick measurements on google maps, and according to that same logic, the Great Lakes system and the St. Lawrence seaway would make a 2500 kilometer "river".

    • victor hopper
      victor hopper 5 months ago

      @BeingTheHunt but did they include the shoreline or just measure the center of the lakes?

    • Brett Schmidt
      Brett Schmidt 6 months ago +1

      @rodrigopaim82 A lake in a watercourse is part of that watercourse, just a particularly wide part of it. If water is flowing into the lake from the section of the watercourse upstream of the lake, and is flowing out of the lake into the section of the watercourse downstream of the lake, then obviously water must be flowing through the lake from the point where water is entering the lake to the point where water is exiting the lake.

    • Brett Schmidt
      Brett Schmidt 6 months ago +1

      A lake in a watercourse is part of that watercourse, just a particularly wide part of it. If water is flowing into the lake from the section of the watercourse upstream of the lake, and is flowing out of the lake into the section of the watercourse downstream of the lake, then obviously water must be flowing through the lake from the point where water is entering the lake to the point where water is exiting the lake.

    • malleableconcrete
      malleableconcrete 8 months ago +1

      @Me Neither I mean, I think it technically is, by these standards, but colloquially its not in Canada generally.
      Its not that different from any other controversy about river length, its reasonable to argue that a river can start at its furthest source, and we know that water flowing through the great lakes inexorably ends up in the St Lawrence, so why not count them?

    • rrampage36
      rrampage36 8 months ago +4

      @Greasher That being said...What defines a river...? The course of its water over a certain geographic area...? If that's the case...then the Amazon remains totally fresh ...with a percepable flow for quite some miles into the Atlantic Ocean before becoming brackish...especially in the wet season. 1500's explorers noted that the water was drinkable many miles before land was sighted. So...Are 'banks' required to make a river...or just the water....? 🤔

  • Tim Fischer
    Tim Fischer 3 months ago +1

    I guess it's kinda arbitrary which river you consider longer so I just like to say it's the Nile because the Nile is important to so many people and so much of history. The Amazon is already winning the most water title easily.

  • ALPHA_sh
    ALPHA_sh 7 months ago +1

    is there a similar controversy for the measurement of the world's longest road? road systems probably fit the same criteria and have the same problems as rivers, only theyre manmade

  • Joe Head
    Joe Head 3 months ago

    Minnesotan here, it was cool to hear Lake Itasca mentioned! Although I should point out it's pronounced "Eye-tass-ka". There's also some controversy as to if it's the real source of the Mississippi. Many people consider it to actually be Lake Nicolet, which is connected to the opposite end of Itasca by a small creek.

  • Kekero
    Kekero 8 months ago +112

    Virgin “longest River fan” vs Chad “largest watershed by annual rain volume”

  • Bob The Goat
    Bob The Goat 8 months ago +622

    Personally, I think you should measure the length of a river by measuring how long a semi-sized boat would have to travel to get from one end to the other, and if it branches you should follow the biggest branch. Still, it doesn't really matter as you should always state precisely what you are measuring and what branches you have used

    • J M
      J M 2 months ago +1

      srsly who cares how l ong is the river??? they are both big but ofc amazons are much much more bigger water volume ofc

    • Tahar Touati
      Tahar Touati 3 months ago +1

      that's actually highly inaccurate because of many properties of nature, and I am pretty sure this is the rudimentary way of measurements people from the 1800s used to measure river length

    • Eduardo Albornoz
      Eduardo Albornoz 7 months ago

      not very precise,rivers can vary a lot

    • Morbid Eel
      Morbid Eel 7 months ago +1

      @Abiez so the length of the river becomes infinity? 🤣

    • LimitedWard
      LimitedWard 8 months ago +6

      In addtion to what others have said, another issue with your idea is that the boat could travel laterally along the river (in zig zags), which would significantly increase the perceived length.

  • HipposHateWater
    HipposHateWater 6 months ago +32

    "The length will approach infinity as the measuring units get smaller."
    *frantically goes to measure pp on the molecular level*

  • Colton Cosse
    Colton Cosse 7 months ago +59

    I have an idea of how to measure River length:
    Step 1: get boat
    Step 2: get odometer
    Step 3: drive boat with odometer from start to end of the River

    • colorado841
      colorado841 5 months ago +3

      Step 4: Pay the boat owner by the hour.

    • StalinumOnWOTBlitz
      StalinumOnWOTBlitz 6 months ago +2

      what about the waterfalls?

    • Emizerri
      Emizerri 6 months ago +4

      @Manikanta Pinabakala I think OP is more pointing out that a simple river with curves and no tributaries can still be accurately measured without measuring with small straight lines, which makes the infinity argument in this video factually incorrect.

    • Manikanta Pinabakala
      Manikanta Pinabakala 6 months ago +1

      Yeah, that seems pretty easy, but which tributary do I start first? For an instance, take the Nile, do I follow the While Nile or the Blue Nile? Or, or, or, do I start from Alexandria (mouth of the Nile) and then reach Khartoum (where the Nile divides into Blue and White) and then add both the White Nile and Blue Nile distances to the distance from Alexandria to Khartoum???
      Huh, pretty sick.

  • Avana Vana
    Avana Vana 7 months ago +1

    The claim that you could measure up to infinity is not true, as it would be physically impossible to use units shorter than the Planck length. So there is a limit.
    Also not mentioned: do you measure along the Thalweg (which constantly changes, along with meanders), the center line, or some average of the length of the left and right banks?

  • littensy
    littensy 7 months ago

    Wouldn't measuring a river on the molecular level make the measurement more precise instead of a huge number?

  • Mahmoud Abou Alfa
    Mahmoud Abou Alfa 8 months ago +184

    A river's length changes throughout centuries. This is because silicate and other minerals erode on one side of a river than the other. This erosion leads to a concave side, the side with harder, more stable minerals; and a convex side, the side with more erosion. This leads to a curve or bend in the river which increases throughout the ages, thus increasing the river's length. When the curve reaches a point where the two ends of the curve meet, they form an oxbow or horseshoe lake which is independent from the river. The river then returns to a straight line, thus its original length. New channels and merging rivers could also be formed by erosion, though this is rare due to the variation in thickness and hardness of soils and minerals surrounding the river.
    In theory, the Nile is longer in length than the Amazon, which leads to more curves therefore longer. Overtime though, this varies and the length of the river also varies. It depends when the lengths of the rivers were recorded and how precise the measurements are.

      LEON ARDO 8 months ago

      @FiredAndIced Yeah, you can just say the Nile is the longest river and that's it, it ends there.

    • Barnabás
      Barnabás 8 months ago +1

      Perfectly said!

  • Mr.Kristian252
    Mr.Kristian252 7 months ago +3

    Just run a program to find the fastest path throughout the river, and have the discovering end when it hits the end. Then from all the points scanned, find the shortest route

  • Christian Lucas
    Christian Lucas 2 months ago

    This reminds me of a video I watch discussing the length of the US coast line and dispute on what country has the largest coastline in the world. Wish I could remember who made that video.

  • SSH
    SSH 4 months ago

    I have a solution. If main river has two or more smaller rivers attached to it, do not go by the measurement of lengthiest one but take the length of the main sub river (which carries more water to main river). In this was we can avoid measuring small small sub rivers or streams which is giving less volume of water.

  • Omar Guardado
    Omar Guardado 7 months ago

    wouldn’t the length of the river just approach a limit? i know it can’t be definitively calculated.. but it would simply approach a limit, not infinity

  • Tactical Chi-Nu Kai
    Tactical Chi-Nu Kai 8 months ago +351

    My geography teacher gave us once a similar task to measure length of a river, but we had to do it with a string instead, so we could bend it to the shape of that river

    • 無無
      無無 Month ago +1

      @rainman I was thinking the same as you

    • rainman
      rainman 7 months ago +8

      @Alpachino Barlatino no you would not, despite the narrator complete misunderstanding of the subject, the length of a river is NOT fractal, because no-one is measuring the length of a river by trying to measure the length of it's banks. That is also how you know that the Niles 'revised' measurement is bogus, if they, as the video claim, tried to measure the coastline of lake Victoria to add to it.

    • Sylvia Rusty FæThey
      Sylvia Rusty FæThey 8 months ago

      @Baz Erk Or a small map...

    • Alpachino Barlatino
      Alpachino Barlatino 8 months ago +1

      @ᖫ PÅragøn ᖭ you would still need an infinitely long string to measure the river with complete accuracy.

    • ᖫ PÅragøn ᖭ
      ᖫ PÅragøn ᖭ 8 months ago +17

      I’m pretty sure he meant a string on a map and cut off the excess

  • Joshua Patrick
    Joshua Patrick 8 months ago +2

    Oh, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May found the source of the Nile about ten years ago. Made a whole documentary about it that’s quite entertaining.

  • Eno
    Eno 6 months ago

    Personally, I find it really odd that we name one piece of a river system with a particular name but then name other parts by a different name. I mean, we obviously get that they're all the same river system. I mean, it's called the Mississippi River Basin after all. Shouldn't the entire thing just be called the Mississippi river? We don't say, oh.. the Pacific Ocean isn't actually the largest ocean, because it includes the South China Sea, which China won't allow us to include in the Pacific Ocean because that would imply it's not exclusively theirs.
    Of course, I suppose that metaphor breaks down a little when you have to then extend it to rename all the oceans in the world with the same name.

  • obliviouz
    obliviouz 7 months ago

    The tributary issue is a definitional one, and real. The fractal measurement issue is easily ("easily") resolved in the case of a river though - you take the shortest route along the river (i.e. imagine you stretch a string between source and end, and stretch taut).

  • Light House
    Light House 7 months ago

    Great exploration and explanation of history of rivers. 🏞

  • L Haviland
    L Haviland 8 months ago +807

    RLL: "The length will approach infinity as the measuring units get smaller."
    Integral calculus: "Am I a joke to you?"

    • Nicolás Baratelli
      Nicolás Baratelli Month ago +2

      Exactly, this is why scale exists. So we dont measure galaxies in inches, or construcion materials in light years.

    • Garry SJ Reid
      Garry SJ Reid Month ago +1

      I was thinking this same thing

    • David Horton
      David Horton 3 months ago +1

      @Thomas Tarkington I agree, this argument did not follow for me in the context of rivers in the same way that it works for coastlines

    • Brittow
      Brittow 3 months ago +4

      THANK YOU. I had to stop the video right there, that's not how it works at all

    • bjorn2fly
      bjorn2fly 6 months ago +8

      this argument is true for coastlines, but for rivers just measure in the middle.

  • Jean Dobkowski
    Jean Dobkowski 5 months ago

    I traveled by boat up the Amazon and could not see the shores for a very long time! Loved the trip.

  • David May
    David May 2 months ago

    I would enjoy these videos more if you also used miles, feet, inches when describing distance.

  • Cindy Bogart
    Cindy Bogart 3 months ago +1

    I would say it’s the Amazon River is the longest. I’m with you when when it comes to cooking. My knives are terrible. My sone bought these knives for me for Christmas. They are the best! It seems I waist a lot of food so I’m going to have to get a service for that also. I hate shopping of any kind. The grocery store where I live are terrible. Small & very crowded. Thanks for all this!!

  • Jared Fong
    Jared Fong 8 months ago

    I thought this video seemed familiar because Atlas Pro made one similar 3 years ago. Both are well made. Keep up the good content.

  • MellerYeller
    MellerYeller 8 months ago +601

    3:57 This statement is misleading. Infinite chunks of infinitely small size don’t necessarily add up to infinity (see also: Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox). It is well within the realm of possibility that as you approach infinitely small measuring steps, you also approach a fixed value.
    This is also true for coastlines. The number approached will be very much higher than a more useful value, but the value “increasing to infinity” is kinda a thing people just say that they assume is correct. Fractals have an infinite scope, whereas the world has a fundamental smallest length.

    • MJW238
      MJW238 4 months ago

      @ole86 But when we’re talking about something analytic/logical like mathematics and counting, why would we be constrained by empirical/physical limits like the plank scale?
      I can easily talk about “half-a-plank”, whether or not such a thing would exist in real life.

    • Ricky Jaeger
      Ricky Jaeger 5 months ago

      Yeah dude let me just get out my Planck length ruler and measure the entire river to check if the value converges.

    • New Zealand
      New Zealand 7 months ago +3

      Finally someone says that. everyone who attended even engineering classes at an university, should know that

    • MellerYeller
      MellerYeller 8 months ago +4

      @emil huzjak Setting aside the point where you claim that the measurement of the length of a coastline never begins to converge, infinity is not a good practical description for an unknown finite number. It is easily possible to say "the exact length of a coastline could never be determined unless you are given an infinite amount of time to find it," and that is clearly not the same as "the sum approaches infinity."
      As for the midpoint, you would have to base the midpoint of the river on the two banks either side, and now it's the shoreline problem again.

    • emil huzjak
      emil huzjak 8 months ago

      The measurement of the length of a coastline never begins to converge in practice no matter what scale you use, so infinity is a good practical description. I think a little lack of mathematical rigor is to be forgiven.
      The problem is the video describes the length of the river and of the river *shore* like they're synonymous. The length of the river should be something like the length of the line down the middle and is very finite and measurable (just differs based on the path).

  • Mister Creeper #302
    Mister Creeper #302 8 months ago

    So, here is my rule for river lengths!
    So, if a river connects to any other river, that river will not count, all of the main entrances of a river are counted and if the river ends to a lake, it must go to the northern, southern, western or eastern most point of the lake.

  • Sir. SuperThunderGoodGuy MMXVI

    3:40 similar to the coastline paradox

  • ᛋᛁᚷᛁᛚᛋ, The Runic Kuribro

    Why would you use small blocks of that river?
    Use a string then measure the string piece used and convert based on whatever the map scale is.

  • Iwan says
    Iwan says 7 months ago

    Serious question. Does a river's length qualifies as a coastline paradox?
    Why not take a satellite photo, draw a continuous line following the river and measure the length of said line using a software?
    While yes, a river's topography changes over time, a date can be added to show when the length was measured.

  • Andy Zeng
    Andy Zeng 8 months ago +645

    Even though the last research was done by the Brazilian geographic society, but it looks reasonable enough to me. Unless the Egyptian geographic society could find a hidden small tributary for the Nile River which beats that measurement, I will accept the fact that the Amazon River is the longest river in the world.

    • Jama Dirie
      Jama Dirie Month ago

      It is obvious the Brazilians didn't like loosing the title for the longest river they intentionally curved out the last found tributary .Hahaha !!! The Nile river can still beat the Amazon if Africans want to play foul like them by curving a new tributary that goes through the Sinai peninsula to Israel to benefit more than waiste into the Mediterranean sea !! How about that ?

    • Craig Smith
      Craig Smith 3 months ago

      @father luciano aight

    • father luciano
      father luciano 3 months ago

      @Craig Smith the lowball estimates would be on lake Victoria. Which makes the Nile smaller

    • Craig Smith
      Craig Smith 6 months ago

      @Lemmy Pop k, i have been informed

    • Lemmy Pop
      Lemmy Pop 6 months ago +1

      @Craig Smith OK, so we can rule in all the small rivers that make up the Amazon before it gets its name, just pick the longest one. At that point the delta thing is really irrelevant, cause the Amazon wins again.

  • Matěj Nechutný

    I saw your video about the longest river and I think you have some non correct information. The source of Amazon river was discovered by czech scientist Bohumir Jánský in 2000 and his team also determined the length of the river at 7062 km.

  • Callie Cooke
    Callie Cooke 5 months ago +1

    Interesting that you mentioned adding the Missouri to the Mississippi. However, you failed to mention that the Missouri is presently longer than the Mississippi. Every time an ox-bow curve cuts through or flood waters change the delta, they flip-flop. They are that close in length.

    • Cali Boy
      Cali Boy Month ago +1

      Yup, 2,341 VS 2,340

  • Duane Mansel
    Duane Mansel Month ago

    I would use extremely large , "to scale" maps and star laying out a string to trace the path. then measure the string.

  • Nicole Johnson
    Nicole Johnson 3 months ago +1

    Great video as usual! Minnesotan here - just for the record, the local pronunciation for Itasca is eye-TAS-ka!

  • Comical Realm Animations
    Comical Realm Animations 8 months ago +1209

    "It's not about how long it is, it's about what's inside that counts" - Pinnochio

    • Phoenix
      Phoenix 7 months ago +3

      Thats what she said

    • The Lemon Lounge
      The Lemon Lounge 8 months ago


    • First Last
      First Last 8 months ago +2

      Oh man I thought it was about how you used it.. --> back to the drawing board...

    • TheScienceofnature
      TheScienceofnature 8 months ago

      I've heard that length is overrated, it's about the width.

  • Funny Bunny
    Funny Bunny Month ago +1

    I never knew measuring Rivers was so complicated

  • Lonely Ghost Enjoying Life / 貓靈

    A more accurate approach can be sailing a boat down the river (the defined main stream) and measuring its length by the traving speed and duration of the sailing

  • Halo Universe
    Halo Universe 7 months ago

    I found it funny/interesting to hear the pronunciation of "Itasca", the origins of the Mississippi River, simply because I know what it is and never heard it used in this way before. In the video he pronounces it like "it-uh-skuh" when it really is pronounced as "eye-task-ah".

  • two-ply
    two-ply  5 days ago

    As a former brazillian, gotta say that that way pur scientists used to measure the river was by far the most brazillian thing I've ever seen

  • Aaron Adams
    Aaron Adams 8 months ago +882

    As an American, I welcome the new measuring unit of "Frances Per river basin."

    • N4MEL3SS W0LF
      N4MEL3SS W0LF 5 months ago

      @The real Speedwagon texi

    • Gubbl Fisch
      Gubbl Fisch 5 months ago +1

      @Ross Ashland that doesn't make sense if you know Latin. Octopus has the Latin plural ending of -i just like most Latin words that end in -us. But all Latin nouns that end in -as (e.g. libertas = freedom) have the plural ending -ates (libertates). So Texates would be the "correct" Latin plural of Texas.

    • Ross Ashland
      Ross Ashland 8 months ago

      @The real Speedwagon one Texas, many Texi. Like octopi.

    • Davide Casarin
      Davide Casarin 8 months ago +1

      As an italian, I must admit it's easier to cover the amazon with wyomings

    • Motorsport Moments
      Motorsport Moments 8 months ago +1

      @The real Speedwagon I’d say Texases. Adding just one S would make it look stupid. ES looks better.

  • Supgamer
    Supgamer 7 months ago

    The world needs to come to a consensus of what length of measurement should be used to measure coastlines and rivers. 5 to 10km should probably suffice

  • Koncre7
    Koncre7 4 months ago +1

    There’s some incorrect statements in this video. Wouldn't cause the rivers length to be infinity by using a small unit of measurement assuming the middle. The real way to measure a rivers length accurately is to take a boat and drive approximately in middle recording the distance the entire way and that would be the length..

  • HeerYanus
    HeerYanus 5 months ago

    We should embrace a standard method of deducing the length, for example using another specific length , such as the smallest/largest/average width as the segment length f.e. Or, just always use 1 meter or smth.

  • BroliYTwins
    BroliYTwins 8 months ago

    I don't care of the Amazon or the Nile only the Loire river will stay in my heart as my beautiful one ♥

  • John Erickson
    John Erickson 8 months ago +695

    As a Minnesota native, the way he pronounced "Itasca" broke my soul.

    • Farlen Alvarado
      Farlen Alvarado Month ago

      I know how Itasca, Illinois is pronounced been there many times. I figured Minnesota’s would be similar.

    • Copper4boi
      Copper4boi 2 months ago

      literally, i just posted a comment about that and i was hoping someone else said something

    • Michael Balfour
      Michael Balfour 3 months ago +1

      Americans and Canadians mispronounce a lot of Australian place names, e.g. Brisbane is "briz-bn" not "briz-bain", Melbourne is "mell-bn" not "mell-born", Gladstone is "glad-stn" not "glad-stone", Geelong is "ji-long" not "jeeeee-long", Canberra is "kan-bra" not "kan-berra" etc. Americans also cannot tell the difference between Tasmania (a state of Australia) and Transylvania (the north-western region of Romania). Some Americans, even those who work in the US postal service, cannot even tell the difference between Australia and Austria.

    • Anoka Joe
      Anoka Joe 3 months ago

      @assbeatexr yeah, from the Ojibwa tribe

    • dumdristig
      dumdristig 3 months ago +1

      @Daniel Laux I'm in MN, too, like John (who possibly could be a relative, I have some Ericksons in my family), and I'd accept Eh-TASK-ah. But never IT-as-kah, like they said. The emphasis is always on the second syllable. Both the county and the lake I have heard native Minnesotans refer to using the short vowel in the first syllable, instead of the long, although the long is generally more common. But putting the emphasis on the first syllable is an anathema to all Minnesotans! Ya sure ya betcha!

  • Loke 666
    Loke 666 7 months ago +15

    The history channel probably spent more time talking about that aliens created the Nile then how long it is on their homepage...

  • InCrIpTiOn
    InCrIpTiOn 8 months ago

    You do not get the fractal length problem when measuring rivers. If you measure specifically the mid point of the river, smaller measurement units do not increase the length

  • Topfengolatsche
    Topfengolatsche 8 months ago

    There's also inaccuracy as far as meanders and islands go and there are probably tens of thousands of meanders and islands on the Amazon. You must use a smaller measure of unit and have an AI apply it to a very detailed satellite image to better estimate its length.

  • Kevin Sips
    Kevin Sips 4 months ago +1

    I believe the length of rivers/coastlines converges to an unknown real number rather than diverging as the measurement unit length -> infinity.

  • Michael Kranawetter
    Michael Kranawetter 7 months ago +8

    I find the whole obsession with river length a bit misguided to begin with. There are many ways to judge the importance of a river, for instance culturally speaking the Nile is certainly more important than the Amazon. But when we talk about "physical features" the Amazon is the king of all rivers and it's not even close. The Amazon carries more water than the next 7 largest rivers *combined*. It's a whole different beast than any other river on this planet. Maybe some other river is technically a little longer, but really that's insignificant. The Amazon truly stands alone, just like Lake Baikal does as far as sweet-water lakes are concerned.

  • Erli Nuraj
    Erli Nuraj 7 months ago

    Its called the shoreline paradox where lowering or increasing the measerament unit greatly changes the outcome

  • MrPriebster
    MrPriebster 8 months ago

    I worked for a mapping company in Colorado and we would digitize features like rivers by drawing a line down the center of the river and then boom we would get a measurement

  • Derek Langseth
    Derek Langseth 5 months ago

    Yes it is possible to measure the length of a river you would just get in a boat where the river begins and float to where the River ends. It's this videos makes something that can be practically measured into some strange mathematical task for no reason. And no matter how you measure it it's not going to be infinitely long.

  • Joel Murphy
    Joel Murphy Month ago

    Which is the river, and which is the tributary, is somewhat arbitrary to begin with. When I look at where the Ohio joins the Mississippi from a satellite view, it looks to me like the "main" river is the Ohio and the Mississippi is feeding into it but the cartographers of history marked it the other way around.

  • Brennan Donner
    Brennan Donner 8 months ago +2

    As a Minnesotan, it is pronounced (I-task-a) not (it-is-ca), love the videos.

  • stephanie parker
    stephanie parker 6 months ago

    I love the smooth transition to the sponsor info, well done 👍

  • Roy Brown
    Roy Brown 5 months ago

    1. They say the nile used to run from east to west.
    2. Comparing them by volume would be the only way to see which one is superior.

  • Ryan Peter
    Ryan Peter 8 months ago +483

    length doesn't have the same fractally unbounded problem as the shoreline perimeter problem.
    Let there be a river of arbitrary length and shape with a defined starting point and a defined ending point.
    There is a minimum length path that can be drawn between the points, staying within the bounds of the riverbanks, such that no other path can be shorter than it, even with an infinitesimal rule.
    Up your math game bruh!

    • Ryan Peter
      Ryan Peter 8 months ago +5

      ​​ @Cade Snyder
      The example given by RLL, to which my criticism is referring, begins at 3:00 and ends at 4:15
      In this example RLL is talking about river length, not shoreline length, and specifically a problem of path drawing from A to B (source to mouth).
      Towards the end of the example, they start describing an emergent property of unbounded length as the unit of measure approaches zero.
      This is a description of the coastline paradox.
      After RLL gives this example, they then mention fractals in reference specifically to measuring of coastlines of nations.
      Just because RLL correctly related the unbounded perimeter of a fractal to the coastline paradox does not mean that the earlier description of it applied to river length is correct.
      "Don’t insult people who are being informative just because you don’t like the example they are using."
      What insult did I make?
      Where did I say I didn't like the example?
      I think the coastline paradox is a great example for demonstrating that the perimeter of a polygon can be unbounded.
      I've used it when teaching abstract algebra when I was a math teacher.
      "Up your social skills bruh!"
      I don't believe RLL is in the business of refusing any criticism.
      That you think that discussion about the misapplication of a concept is "poor social skills" suggests you're well fit for leadership in a major US political party.
      Also, didn't you just call me an "asshole"?

    • Cade Snyder
      Cade Snyder 8 months ago

      He was talking about shoreline when he mentioned fractals, he isn’t trying to describe the shortest way from A to B. Look at it this way: draw a dotted line straight through the center of the river, then disregard the other half of the river altogether. Now, what are we looking at? *gasp* It’s a shoreline.
      Don’t insult people who are being informative just because you don’t like the example they are using. Nitpicking and being an Armchair Expert isn’t going to improve the video that you chose to watch but rather make you into an asshole who apparently always needs to prove you’re the smartest in the room.
      Up your social skills bruh!

    • Ryan Peter
      Ryan Peter 8 months ago +1

      I'm not saying the method I described is perfect. But, unless you have specific flaws or a better system, your complaint is pointless and useless.

    • Hernando Malinche
      Hernando Malinche 8 months ago +2

      @ReywasHere It's the most realistic measurement, just because it can be measured infinitely doesn't mean it is infinite if you're sailing on it

    • ReywasHere
      ReywasHere 8 months ago +4

      Although shortest path within the banks is just another measuring system, with its own flaws.