James Grover, age 13, of Renton, Wash., for his question:
What is a statute and a nautical mile?
The statute mile is a unit for measuring distance on land. It is equivalent as we all know, to 1760 yards or 5280 feet. The nautical mile, alias the geographic or sea mile, is the unit of distance used by ships, It is about 300 feet longer than the land mile.
The land mile is based on the smaller units of the yard and the foot which have no basis in nature, The sea mile has a more scientific basis. It is one minute, or one 21600th part of a great circle around the earth. This circle is divided into 360 degrees and each degree is divided into 60 minutes. This geographic job of measuring was done by different nations who came up with different answers. The British sea mile is equal to 6080 feet, the U.S. sea mile is equal to 6080.2 feet.