A WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN

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“The further west you go, the nearer you get to the Far East”.

A Victor Borge joke.  Not only ironic but, if you think carefully about it, a challenge to our accepted perceptions of cartography.

Consider, for example, if you bought a map of the world in China; where would China be?  On the extreme right (East) as we portray it or in the middle as we portray ourselves?

By that measure, if it were centred it would show China’s geographic relationship with other countries with the Pacific Ocean and the Americas to the right of it (East) and Europe and Africa to the West.

“OK” I hear you say, “but the East is set because the sun rises in the East”.  But it doesn’t.  The sun doesn’t rise at all; rather, the Earth spins in an anti-clockwise direction (or clockwise, depending on whether you view it from above the North or the South Pole).

Now let’s complicate matters further

Question:            Which way is North?

Answer:               At the top of the globe, obviously.

Question:            Why?

Answer:               Because that’s where the North Star is and because it’s where a compass points.

Indeed.  But the first argument is entirely circular.  Navigators christened Polaris the North or Pole Star because they were seeking a northerly direction.  And a compass, of course, also points South.

And here is the point.  North is at the top depending solely on where you stand to look at it. 

Viewed from space the Earth can appear in any plane, depending on whether you are “stood up” or “upside-down”, and if you were “upside-down” Antarctica would be at the top.  And in space there no “up” or “down”.

Put another way, if world exploration and related cartography had developed in Polynesia, say, what would maps of the world look like now?

◄ THE POET'S RANT - A TRIOLET

WRITE OUT LOUD WOMEN BLUES ►

Comments

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 19th Jan 2018 17:56

Point me in the right direction, but isn't "magnetic" north
the guiding factor anywhere on Earth?

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John Coopey

Wed 17th Jan 2018 19:32

Indeed, MC. I think we are saying the same thing. They could come from any direction, paying no mind to our concept of which way up our globe is.

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M.C. Newberry

Wed 17th Jan 2018 16:48

Ah - but my use of "extra-terrestrial" refers to its meaning
"outside the earth or its atmosphere" - using the human
viewpoint as seen in the famous photographs taken by
astronauts. Why should any other lifeform utilise any
reference to our own invented compass points when
viewing or approaching our planet?

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John Coopey

Tue 16th Jan 2018 23:03

Of course, MC, it wouldn’t be slightly tipped if the ET was looking at it from under Antarctica; and who knows from what direction an ET would come.

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 16th Jan 2018 19:52

This serves as a reminder that we tend to view the world
according to the position that each of us occupies!
But from extra-terrestrial viewpoint, the slightly tipped
world is seen in the overall setting in which compass
directions hold to their meanings...give or take.

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John Coopey

Tue 16th Jan 2018 14:09

And the bonus of picture cards, Graham.

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Graham Sherwood

Tue 16th Jan 2018 10:19

I'd stick to Brooke Bond in future. It must be all that Bergamot!!

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John Coopey

Tue 16th Jan 2018 09:10

I managed this without the use of any narcotic stimulants whatsoever. (Well, a cup of Earl Grey. But that’s all).

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Trevor Alexander

Tue 16th Jan 2018 01:14

I guess it's all a matter of perspective. Never mind heading west - let's go thataway!

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Graham Sherwood

Tue 16th Jan 2018 00:14

How many have you had JC?

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