Who says North is up?
Upside Down maps (also known as South-Up or Reversed maps) offer a completely different perspective of the world we live in.
Technically speaking, even referring to the earth with words like “up” or “down” or comparing places with words “above” or “below” is flawed, considering that the earth is a spherical body (it’s actually slightly “fatter” at the equator) and flying through 3 dimensional space with no reference of up or down. However, the issue of “up” and “down” does become an issue when viewing the surface of the earth projected onto a flat piece of paper (a map). And the effect of the orientation of a map is more significant than you might realize.
As all maps require orientation for reference, the issue of how to layout the map orientation is as old as maps themselves. As map orientation is completely arbitrary, it is not surprising that they differed throughout time periods and regions.
The convention of North-up is usually attributed to the Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy (90-168 AD). Justifications for his north-up approach vary. In the middle ages, East was often placed at top. This is the origin of the term “The Orient” to refer to East Asia. During the age of exploration, European cartographers again followed the north-up convention…perhaps because the North Star was their fixed reference point for navigation, or because they wanted (subconsciously or otherwise) to ensure Europe’s claim at the top of the world.
In modern times, reversed maps are made as a learning device or to illustrate Northern Hemisphere bias. Different from simply turning a north-up map upside down, a reversed map has the text oriented to be read with south up.
The famous “Blue Marble” photograph of the Earth taken from on board Apollo 17 was originally oriented with the south pole at the top, with the island of Madagascar visible just left of center, and the continent of Africa at its right. However, the image was turned upside-down to fit the traditional view.
While the orientation of a map might seem harmless, it can have a significant effect on one’s perception of the world, and the relative importance of the different place in it.
In speech, we often refer to places being “above” or “below” others. Think of how you would say you’re about to travel to the state or country to your north or south (to go “down” to Kentucky from Indiana, or “up” to Canada from the US). Without even mentioning geography, ask any grade school student whether Mexico is “above” or “below” the United States. We’re all familiar with the “land down under”. As we often correlate importance to relative height (think how a citizens of a country will fly their flag higher than all other flags), the north-up convention reinforces the idea that northern bodies are more important than their southern neighbors. Suddenly, traveling “down” to the South might have an inference much deeper than geographic location.
After looking at the map more closely, you may realize that the South-Up orientation may change your perception of the relative status of different places. For example, South America suddenly looks to have more prominence, and Africa and the Middle East completely dwarf Europe. Likewise, tucking Northern Europe, Canada, and Russia away at the bottom of the map, subconsciously takes away their status.
Chris Hadfield, an astronaut, has sung and made a music video for a cover of Space Oddity. Whilst in space.
This is seriously one of the best things I have ever seen. Please watch it.
Happy Birthday to my favorite physicist.
R.I.P. Professor Feynman.
This is a picture from the Curiosity Rover on Mars showing Earth from the Perspective of Mars. You are literally looking at your home from the Perspective of another planet. Epic times indeed
Do you crave conversation about e-dreams with a character in virtual reality? Of course! Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Agent Ruby is a chatty exhibit at SFMOMA through June 2, 2013, and you can also communicate with her online.
Seriously though. If you haven’t tried chatting with Agent Ruby yet, you should go for it.
The effect shown in the gif is called gravitational lensing.
What is gravitational lensing?
Gravitational lensing is the effect seen when an object behind a massive object is in the line of sight with the earth. For example:
Earth ————>Massive Object—————->Far away object
When we try looking at the far away object, the massive object bends space-time around it, causing the light rays from the far away object to travel in a curved path around into our line of sight.
As a result of this, we can often see the far away object magnified which helps astronomers understand the early universe. The gif shows a far away galaxy being gravitationally lensed by a closer black hole.
Most people take it for granted that we have yet to make contact with an extraterrestrial civilization. Trouble is, the numbers don’t add up. Our Galaxy is so old that every corner of it should have been visited many, many times over by now. No theory to date has satisfactorily explained away this Great Silence, so it’s time to think outside the box. Here are eleven of the weirdest solutions to the Fermi Paradox.
Mapping the Embryonic Epigenome: How Genes Are Turned On and Off During Early Human Development
May 9, 2013 — A large, multi-institutional research team involved in the NIH Epigenome Roadmap Project has published a sweeping analysis in the current issue of the journal Cell of how genes are turned on and off to direct early human development. Led by Bing Ren of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Joseph Ecker of The Salk Institute for Biological Studies and James Thomson of the Morgridge Institute for Research, the scientists also describe novel genetic phenomena likely to play a pivotal role not only in the genesis of the embryo, but that of cancer as well. Their publicly available data, the result of more than four years of experimentation and analysis, will contribute significantly to virtually every subfield of the biomedical sciences.
Allie Brosh and Hyperbole and a Half are back after a year and a half of internet silence. That’s incredibly good news for people who like awesome things.
I point this out for two reasons:
- It contains one of the best evolutionary biology illustrations of all time (above), about how we are at the end of a long line of things that successfully avoided getting chewed to death.
- It is one of the greatest explorations and personal stories of depression and mental health that I have ever seen, and should really be read by every single damn person on Earth.
This is an approximate true color image of Titan’s haze layers, taken by Cassini’s Imaging Science Subsystem during Cassini’s 91st encounter with Titan on April 5, 2013.
Image: NASA / JPL / SSI / composite by Val Klavans
Titan’s upper haze layers appear blue, while its main atmospheric haze appear orange in this view. The difference in color is most likely due to particle size rather than composition. The blue haze probably consists of smaller particles than the orange haze.
The main interest of my work is not concerned with the treatment of neurosis but rather with the approach to the numinous. But the fact is that the approach to the numinous is the real therapy and inasmuch as you attain to the numinous experience you are released from the curse of pathology (Jung 1945 p. 377).
I am quite conscious that I am moving in a world of images and that none of my reflections touches the essence of the Unknowable. I am also too well aware of how limited are our powers of conception—to say nothing of the feebleness and poverty of language—to imagine that my remarks mean anything more in principle than what a primitive man means when he conceives of his god as a hare or a snake. But although our whole world of religious ideas consists of anthropomorphic images and could never stand up to rational criticism, we should never forget that they are based on numinous archetypes, ie, on an emotional foundation which is unassailable by reason. We are dealing with psychic facts which logic can overlook but not eliminate (CW 11 par. 556).
We are caught and entangled in aimless experience, and the judging intellect with its categories proves powerless. Human interpretation fails, for a turbulent life-situation has arisen that refuses to fit any of the traditional meanings assigned to it. It is a moment of collapse. We sink into a final depth—Apuleius calls it “a kind of voluntary death.” It is a surrender of our own powers, not artificially willed but forced upon us by nature; not a voluntary submission and humiliation decked in moral garb but an utter and unmistakable defeat crowned with the panic fear of demoralization. Only when all the props and crutches are broken, and no cover from the rear offers even the slightest hope of security, does it become possible for us to experience an archetype that up till then had lain hidden to experience (Jung, CW9.1 p.?).
Since the stars have fallen from heaven, and our highest symbols have paled, a secret life holds sway in the unconscious. It is for this reason that we have a psychology today, and for this reason we speak of the unconscious (Jung, 1940:72).
The unconscious posits nothing; it simply designates my unknowing (Jung, Letters Vol. 1)