Posted on October 2, 2013
This year, October 2 is a Wednesday. What better day to celebrate the famous (and fictional!) 1872 wager that launched a (fictional) world-wide voyage:
“I will bet twenty thousand pounds against anyone who wishes, that I will make the tour of the world in eighty days or less....As today is Wednesday, the second of October, I shall be due in London, in this very room of the Reform Club, on Saturday, the twenty-first of December, at a quarter before nine PM; or else the twenty thousand pounds . . . will belong to you.”
Circling the globe was impossible, a long time ago. Sailing ships made the feat possible, but it was rare and remarkable and time-consuming. It took years, not days, to do it. So, when Jules Verne wrote Around the World in Eighty Days in the late 1800s, such a feat did seem very science fiction.
Luckily, Jules Verne wrote science fiction! He had his main character, Phileas Fogg, travel by rail and steamship (and the occasional elephant, hot air balloon, etc.) from London to Egypt, then onto India, Hong Kong, Japan, San Francisco (California), New York City, and back to London. Do you think that Fogg gets back to London in time to make it to the room in the Reform Club on Saturday, December 21, at 8:45 p.m.?
Travel used to be a lot slower in the olden days than it is now. How long would it take to travel around the world these days? What's the fastest way? (See answer below.)
Calling all kids!
Here is an interactive story/game created from Around the World in 80 Days, and here is an interactive storybook version.
ESL Printables offers some worksheets, but their link to a cartoon movie version of the story seems to be broken. I found a cartoon version on YouTube.
A lot of kids, families, and classrooms have been inspired by the book to virtually circle the globe in 80 days. Just plot a course and timeline, and enjoy the “trip” with books, videos, games, recipes, and maybe even costumes representing each culture you visit!
Answer to question: If you have a rocket ship, you can circle the globe in just 90 minutes. But most of us would have to travel by airplane, which would take from 24 to 32 hours even on the fastest jets (this estimate includes time to refuel). The current record for fastest airplane flight around the world is 31 and a half hours.
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