Want to know the straight distance between two points on Google Maps, without resorting to driving directions and figuring out location names? Google Maps just added a Labs feature that provides as-the-crow-flies distances in miles, kilometres, football fields, PostScript points, and more.
Head to your Google Maps Labs settings and enable Distance Measurement Tool. You'll now see a tiny ruler icon in the lower-left corner of the map frame—click it, and you can then click two points on the map to create a highlighter-style line between them. The left-hand panel will show your distance in feet/miles or metres/kilometres.
Hit the "I'm Feeling Geeky" link, and you get a whole host of other options, including Jewish temple cubits, light-years, extremely old-fashioned lengths, and something called a Smoot. Helpful for term papers, perhaps, and putting things in perspective the next time your parents ask why you don't visit more often (note: visit your parents).
Distance Measurement in Google Maps Labs [Google Operating System]