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Already 14 billion miles from the Sun, Voyager 1 is speeding away at 38,000 mph.
- Jimmy Carter was U.S. president and Elvis Presley was still alive in 1977, the year Voyager 1 was launched.
- Back in 1990, Voyager 1's last picture showed Earth as nothing more than a 'Pale Blue Dot'.
- Voyager 1 is now traversing interstellar space – here's what our solar system looks like from there.
Speeding towards the Serpent-bearer<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ1NDQxMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDI1NTk5NX0.Suqx6J-qdDk1vAQx7TbVIUE6Ikaxggpt_zSBFCOQrvw/img.jpg?width=980" id="e621d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="57c8efdaa962869a3a5d9d7e3b092e24" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The Voyager 1 aboard the Titan III/Centaur lifted off on September 5, 1977, joining its sister spacecraft, the Voyager 2, on a mission to the outer planets." data-width="2469" data-height="3000" />
Voyager 1 lifting off from Cape Canaveral on September 5, 1977.
Credit: NASA, public domain<p>What's the farthest place that humanity has gone? For a practical answer to that question rather than a philosophical one, direct your gaze to Ophiuchus, an equatorial constellation also known as <em>Serpentarius</em>. </p><p><span></span>Speeding towards Rasalhague and the other stars that make up the 'Serpent-bearer' is Voyager 1, the furthest human-made object in the Universe. It's currently 14.1 billion miles (22.8 billion km) from the Sun and speeding away at roughly 38,000 mph (61,000 km/h).</p><p><span></span>That's too far to observe Voyager 1 twinkle in the night sky. But you can turn the tables and see what it sees, as it looks back at us. Via NASA's Eyes website (and app), you can <a href="https://eyes.nasa.gov/apps/orrery/#/sc_voyager_1" target="_blank">pay a virtual visit</a> to where the spacecraft is now and explore its vantage as it hurtles towards the edge of the solar system.</p><p><span></span>There's Jupiter and Saturn, so seemingly close together; and Uranus, Pluto and Neptune, their orbits farther away. At the center of it all, the Sun. Nearby, the inner planets, including Earth: so close to it that they don't even get a name-tag. Those planets and their trajectories are so familiar yet now so distant, it's enough to make you homesick by proxy!</p><p>You can click and drag your way around Voyager 1, shifting your perspective to explore the region – spotting Sedna, Halley's Comet and a few other less familiar members of our solar family.<br></p>
67 MB of data<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ1NDQxOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTI5MzgzNn0.fIweHUrPBVc6WK2M1PPHSHrNY9NDvgJHNTL7o8vK4Xk/img.png?width=980" id="eb326" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d68133f953d65707e7fd0308c9002b0c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Where it\u2019s at: this is what the view of the solar system is from Voyager 1 as it speeds into interstellar space." data-width="2738" data-height="1238" />
Where it's at: this is what the view of the solar system is from Voyager 1 as it speeds into interstellar space.
Credit: NASA's Eyes, public domain<p>Although it's still sending data back to Earth, most of Voyager 1's instruments have now been powered down, and the craft is expected to go entirely dead by 2030 at the latest; but its incredible journey isn't over. In fact, it will most likely continue long after you, I and everything we know will have disappeared. Here's how it all started.</p><p><span></span>The year is 1977. Jimmy Carter's first year as president. Elvis Presley's last year alive. Star Wars hits the big screen. On September 10, Hamida Djandoubi becomes the last person ever to be guillotined in France. Five days earlier, Voyager 1 takes off from Cape Canaveral.</p><p>Voyager 1 is a small craft, weighing barely 1,820 lb. (825.5 kg). Its most prominent feature is a 12-ft (3.7-m) wide dish antenna, for talking with Earth – when there's no straight line of communication, a Digital Tape Recorder kicks in, able to hold up to 67 MB of data for later transmission. In all, Voyager 1 carries 11 different instruments to study the heavens.<br></p>
Termination shock<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ1NDQyNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MDYzNzc1NH0.0dujwB_nfI7Z06ngear_6jo7vEPt5AldzPqYT_VNqP8/img.jpg?width=980" id="683db" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8c98b54790e133431faeb445a035bb9b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="An annotated image showing the various parts and instruments of NASA's Voyager space probe design. Voyager 1 and its identical sister craft Voyager 2 were launched in 1977 to to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space." data-width="1024" data-height="799" />
Voyager 1 and its range of instruments, which have been progressively shut down as the craft's power waned.
Credit: NASA/Hulton Archive/Getty Images<p>The idea for the Voyagers, 1 and 2, grew out of the Mariner program's focus on the outer planets. The Voyagers got their own name as their field of study started to diverge towards the outer heliosphere and beyond. </p><p><span></span>The heliosphere is the 'solar bubble' created by the solar wind, i.e. the plasma emitted by the Sun. The region where solar wind slows down to below the speed of sound is called the termination shock. The heliopause is the outer limit of this bubble, where outward movement of solar plasma is nullified by interstellar plasma from the rest of the Milky Way. Beyond lies interstellar space. </p><p><span></span>The Voyagers were built to withstand the intense radiation in those far reaches of space – in part by applying a protective layer of kitchen-grade aluminum foil. </p><p>Humanity's farthest probe into the Universe was launched on September 5, 1977, confusingly 16 days <em>after</em> Voyager 2. More than 43 years later, the craft is still sending data back to Earth – but not for very much longer. Here are a few snapshots for the family album:</p><ul><li>December 19, 1977: Voyager 1 overtakes Voyager 2. Voyager 1 is travelling at a speed of 3.6 AU per year, while Voyager 2 is only going at 3.3 AU. So, Voyager 1 is constantly increasing its lead over its slower brother. </li><li>Early 1979: Voyager 1 flies by Jupiter and its moons, taking close-ups of Jupiter's Great Red Spot and spotting volcanic activity on the moon Io – the first time ever this was observed outside Earth.</li><li>Late 1980: flyby of Saturn and its moons, especially Titan. The flybys of the two gas giants gave 'gravity assists' that helped Voyager 1 continue its journey. </li><li>February 14, 1990: Voyager takes a 'Solar System Family Portrait', its final picture and the first one of the solar system from the outside. It included an image of the Earth from 6 billion km (3.7 billion mi) away, as a '<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot" target="_blank">Pale Blue Dot</a>'.</li><li>February 17, 1998: Voyager 1 reaches 69.4 AU from the Sun, overtaking Pioneer 10 and becoming the most distant spacecraft sent from Earth. </li><li>2004: Voyager 1 becomes the first craft to reach termination shock, at about 94 AU from the Sun. The Astronomic Unit (AU) is the average distance from Sun to Earth (about 93 million mi, 150 million km or 8 light minutes).</li><li>August 25, 2012: after a few months of 'cosmic purgatory' and 10 days before the 35th anniversary of its launch, Voyager 1 became the first human-made vessel to cross the heliopause, at 121 AU, thus entering interstellar space. </li><li>Soon after, Voyager 1 entered a region still under some influence of the Sun, which scientists dubbed the 'magnetic highway'. </li><li>November 28, 2017: all four of Voyager 1's trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) thrusters are used for the first time since November 1980. This will allow Voyager 1 to continue to transmit data for longer.</li><li>November 5, 2018: Voyager 2 crosses the heliopause, departing the heliosphere. Both Voyagers are now in interstellar space.</li></ul>
Eternal wanderers<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ1NDQzNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMzcwNDUxMX0.HYgfjObsLexiaIUILSJp4foLOsnS-UdLzazYSurSIlQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="4dad2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1d3ab798244f39dd435e315991b05d60" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="An artist's impression of NASA's Voyager 1 space probe passing behind the rings of Saturn, using cameras and radio equipment to measure how sunlight is affected as it shines between the ring particles. The image was produced in 1977, before the craft was launched, and depicts events due to take place in 1980." data-width="1024" data-height="813" />
Artist's impression of Voyager 1 passing the rings of Saturn in 1980.
Credit: NASA/Hulton Archive/Getty Images<p>While both Voyagers have now left the heliosphere, that doesn't mean they're outside the solar system yet. The latter is defined as the vastly larger region of space, populated by all the bodies that orbit the Sun. The limit of the Solar system is the outer edge of the Oort cloud.</p><p><span></span>As available power declined, more and more of the Voyager 1's instruments and systems have been turned off – prioritising the instruments that send back data on the heliosphere and interstellar space. It is expected that the last instruments will cease operation sometime between 2025 and 2030. </p><p>Travelling at just about 61,200 km/h (38,000 mph) relative to the Sun, the craft will need 17 and a half millennia to cover the distance of a single light year. Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, is 4.2 light-years away. If Voyager 1 were going in that direction, it would need almost 74 millennia to get there. But it isn't. So, what <em>is</em> next?</p><ul><li>In 2024, NASA plans to launch the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP), which will build on Voyager's observations of the heliopause and interstellar space.</li><li>In about 300 years, Voyager 1 will reach the inner edge of the Oort Cloud.</li><li>In about 30,000 years, it will exit the Oort Cloud – finally leaving the solar system altogether.</li><li>In about 40,000 years, it will pass within 1.6 light-years of Gliese 445, a star in the constellation Camelopardalis.</li><li>In about 300,000 years, it will pass within less than 1 light-year of the star TYC 3135-52-1.</li><li>According to NASA, Voyagers 1 and 2 "are destined – perhaps eternally – to wander the Milky Way."</li></ul>
Blind Willie in space<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ1NDQ0NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzMyMjIxNX0.r_1ZGtsaAUysMao88GWwbCh71mw9OlFygjd-RswvdQI/img.jpg?width=980" id="aca9c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5f4301f21d9736a139f5f56f72e29e4c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="" data-width="2389" data-height="2388" />
Flying on board Voyagers 1 and 2 are identical 'golden' records, carrying the story of Earth far into deep space.
Credit: NASA, public domain<p>Both Voyager 1 and 2 carry a Golden Record that contains pictures, scientific data, spoken greetings, a sampling of whale song and other Earth sounds, and a mixtape of musical favorites, from Mozart to Chuck Berry. </p><p>Perhaps in a distant future and place, some alien intelligence with a record player will have a listen to Blind Willie Johnson hum <em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNj2BXW852g" target="_blank">Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground</a></em>, and think of us: "What a strange old planet that must have been."<br></p><p><br></p><p><em>Image taken from the <a href="https://eyes.nasa.gov/apps/orrery/#/sc_voyager_1" target="_blank">Voyager 1</a> page at <a href="https://eyes.nasa.gov/" target="_blank">NASA's Eyes</a>.</em></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1065</strong></p><p><strong></strong><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.<br></p>
How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
The arc of geological history is long, but it bends towards supercontinents – so, what will the next one look like?
- We're halfway through a 'supercontinent cycle'.
- The next one is due in 200-300 million years.
- Here are four plausible scenarios of what it will look like.
Moving at fingernail speed<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE2NTY5Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjAyMzIyOX0.gZZO2j3E14_8S2r8yHj9bg8y0gbMiJd1--VYVMaihLY/img.jpg?width=980" id="9202a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4c5df1b5ba6e2e6eb781f25c921abff1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Jacques Kornprobst (redesigned after Bullard, E., Everett, J.E. and Smith, A.G., 1965. The fit of the continents around the Atlantic. Phil. Trans. Royal Soc., A 258, 1088, 41-51" data-width="1772" data-height="2256" />
How the American, African and European continents once fit together before the Atlantic – and may one day again, if and when the local 'Wilson cycle' reverses.
Credit: Jacques Kornprobst, after E. Bullard et al. (1965), CC BY-SA 4.0<p>For things so massive and seemingly immovable, continents are pretty hard to pin down. Of course, that's because they do move, if only at the speed at which your fingernails grow: about two inches (5 cm) per year. </p><p><span></span>Accelerate the film of Earth's geology, and you see the landmasses dance across the globe like islands of foam on a running bath. One peculiarity of our drifting continents is that they tend to combine, over massive amounts of time, into one single supercontinent. It helps that the Earth is round, unlike your bath.</p><p>Then, millions of years later, tectonic forces cause the supercontinent to break up again – only for the individual continents to recombine much, much later. All at fingernail speed. <br></p>
The usual suspects<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE3NTUzOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMjAwMjk3Nn0.1xybWFd9sOuojVgjUIaiLYAbVZV5VX902_T9Ksik5L0/img.jpg?width=980" id="d84c0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="176bbeda9b0c7904fd34ba9ffbd1c81e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Paleogeographic globe in the Norwegian language" data-width="960" data-height="720" />
Norwegian map of what the supercontinent of Columbia/Nuna may well have looked like, 1,590 million years ago.
Credit: Bjoertvedt, CC BY-SA 3.0<p>Here's one question with an un-pin-downable answer: How many supercontinents have there been in Earth's deep past? At least three or at least seven; as many as 11 or perhaps even a few more. Like the continents themselves, scientific theories diverge. Here are some of the usual suspects (most recent first, ages are approximate):</p><ul><li>Pangea (300-180 million years ago)</li><li>Gondwana (600-180 mya)</li><li>Pannotia (630-540 mya)</li><li>Rodinia (1.1 bya-750 mya)</li><li>Columbia, a.k.a. Nuna (1.8-1.5 billion years ago)</li><li>Kenorland (2.7-2.1 bya)</li><li>Ur (2.8-2.4 mya)</li><li>Vaalbara (3.6-2.8 bya)</li></ul><p>That's if we spool back the tape. What happens if we fast-forward? Even though Pangea, the last supercontinent, broke up almost 200 million years ago, geologists are pretty sure there will be another one, but not for some time to come. Right now, we're about halfway through a 'supercontinent cycle'. The next one will be around between 200 and 300 million years from now. <br></p>
Wilson cycles<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE3NTYwNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzcyMTEzMX0.tkjKsBMqN6Wia0AucfoIsBAwPVsldqsQhVKe_4gIJdE/img.jpg?width=980" id="abed8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f09ffdffc65ee7a7ea786791a4d6aa05" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="John Tuzo Wilson (1908-93) refined and championed the theory of plate tectonics in the 1960s, when it was still controversial. He was the first non-U.S. citizen to become president of the American Geophysical Union." data-width="2000" data-height="1650" />
John Tuzo Wilson (1908-93) refined and championed the theory of plate tectonics in the 1960s, when it was still controversial. He was the first non-U.S. citizen to become president of the American Geophysical Union.
Credit: UC Davis<p>That brings us to the next question with an answer that's hard to pin down: What will that next supercontinent look like? That is, of course, unknowable, as no one alive today will be around to check. But one can speculate. Using what we know about the tectonic forces that power the movements of continental plates, three scientists line up four plausible scenarios for the formation of the next supercontinent.</p><p>In "<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0921818118302054" target="_blank">Back to the future: Testing different scenarios for the next supercontinent gathering</a>," Hannah S. Davies, J.A. Mattias Green, and Joāo C. Duarte present four supercontinents, each the outcome of a different tectonic what-if. <br></p><p>Each scenario is a different combination of two basic drivers of continental conglomeration (and fragmentation): the supercontinent cycle itself, and the so-called Wilson cycle.</p><p>In 1966, Canadian geologist John Tuzo Wilson proposed that the Atlantic had opened up along a zone where another ocean had previously existed. A 'Wilson cycle' therefore describes the cyclical opening and closing of ocean basins. Since those aren't necessarily in sync with supercontinent cycles, they can lead to various outcomes – supercontinents of different shapes and at different types.</p><p>The next supercontinent will take shape when at least one ocean closes. That can happen in one of two ways:</p><ul><li>Introversion: the 'internal', expanding ocean starts to contract and closes up again; or</li><li>Extroversion: the 'exterior' ocean keeps expanding, closing an 'internal' ocean elsewhere.</li></ul><p>In the first option, the Wilson cycle and the supercontinent cycle coincide, creating the possibility that the new supercontinent will have more or less the same dimensions as the old one. In the second option, the Wilson and supercontinent cycles do not coincide.</p>In their paper, the researchers line up and standardise the evidence for four well-known scenarios on future supercontinent formation:<ul><li>The closure of the Atlantic Ocean, leading to <em>Pangea Ultima</em>;</li><li>The closure of the Pacific Ocean, giving rise to <em>Novopangea</em>;</li><li>The closure of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, creating <em>Aurica</em>; and</li><li>The closure of the Arctic Ocean, forming <em>Amasia</em>.</li></ul>
Pangea Ultima: keystone Africa<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE2NTk0OC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTY5NTQyMX0.yLxXa6Nq9UVBvivt8ZLF854q3EDgc8ZA6uibHrXCMzA/img.png?width=980" id="2ea7d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="951c72c6b02d127b2de4d36ac8d1aa62" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u2018Ultimate\u2019 Pangea would be a remake of the \u2018old\u2019 Pangea, more or less." data-width="1921" data-height="1084" />
'Ultimate' Pangea would be a remake of the 'old' Pangea, more or less.
Credit: Pilgrim-Ivanhoe, reproduced with kind permission<p>'Ultimate Pangea' will come about via an introversion scenario, with the closing of the Atlantic and the re-formation of the 'old' Pangea – sort of. Introversion is the 'classic' scenario for supercontinent formation; in fact, Pangea itself was likely formed by introversion, with the closing of the Rheic and Iapetus Oceans. </p><p>Africa is the key continent here; first by colliding with Europe to form the new continent of Eurafrica, and ultimately as the keystone tying South and North America, Europe and Asia together. Remnants of the Atlantic and Indian oceans reincarnate as the 'ultimate' Mediterranean, closed off from the world ocean by East Antarctica. </p>
Novopangea: Rift becomes Ocean<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE2NjAyOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MjM4NjI2NX0.mFp5fjezbmpp6GztShxrl32AlDXBNagr0h2LGLF5uZ4/img.png?width=980" id="6dd67" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="09f133f5b609ed9796fedc0be5cec6d9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="How Novopangea might come to be: the Pacific closes and a new ocean forms along the East African Rift." data-width="1926" data-height="1080" />
How Novopangea might come to be: the Pacific closes and a new ocean forms along the East African Rift.
Credit: Pilgrim-Ivanhoe, reproduced with kind permission<p>A 'classic' extroversion scenario leads to the closure of the Pacific Ocean, and to a 'new' Pangea – not just a re-forming of the old one. The East African Rift keeps growing, developing into a new ocean, replacing the Indian one. East Africa gets stuck against India's west coast. </p>
Aurica: America in the middle<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE2NjA3OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDYxMTYyMX0.-rI753T_-5iOImNB04Tj6YleOLJ4dD0wCOyJaKE9wQE/img.png?width=980" id="9ebd2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="15f641569079217b47d7193f40099ddb" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Two Wilson cycles in sync with a supercontinent cycle, and hey presto: Aurica." data-width="1919" data-height="1072" />
Two Wilson cycles in sync with a supercontinent cycle, and hey presto: Aurica.
Credit: Pilgrim-Ivanhoe, reproduced with kind permission<p>The Aurica scenario presupposes two Wilson cycles in sync with the supercontinent cycle. Both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans close, helping to form the supercontinent of Aurica, with the Americas in the middle. </p><p>This requires the opening-up of at least one new ocean – for example, at a large rift along the present-day border between India and Pakistan. This new Pan-Asian Ocean, merged with the Indian Ocean, pushes these areas apart, turning them from next-door neighbors into lands on either side of Aurica. </p><p>Australia is now entirely landlocked, between Antarctica, East Asia, and North America. Europe and Africa have collided with the Americas from the other side. To the south, Madagascar stubbornly continues its separate course. </p>
Amasia, the Arctic supercontinent<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE2NjE1Ny9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjU2NjQwNn0.VTZTLicoOuJpkso6mGGYhvy7Jgg7LsNCT8EE25bIrDI/img.png?width=980" id="a7509" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3e8aacbdd95a3e8760ccdd6180365467" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="In the Amasian scenario, almost all continents would be joined \u2018at the top\u2019." data-width="1914" data-height="1088" />
In the Amasian scenario, almost all continents would be joined 'at the top'.
Credit: Pilgrim-Ivanhoe, reproduced with kind permission<p>The Arctic Ocean closes. Almost all continents are joined at the 'top of the world', with the exception of Antarctica, the only one not drifting northward. It'll be a short hop from North America to North Africa, with Southern Europe acting as a land bridge in between. South America has repositioned itself, with its western edge against the eastern flank of North America.<br></p><p><em>These images produced by Pilgrim-Ivanhoe, reproduced with kind permission. Original context <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/imaginarymaps/comments/ej..." target="_blank">here</a>. Images based on the aforementioned article: </em><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0921818118302054" target="_blank">Back to the future: Testing different scenarios for the next supercontinent gathering</a><em>, by Hannah S. Davies, J.A. Mattias Green and João C. Duarte, published in </em><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/global-and-p..." target="_blank">Global and Planetary Change</a><em> (Vol. 169, October 2018).</em></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1064</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em><br></p>
Three decades after the demise of the GDR, its familiar contours keep coming back from the dead.
- East Germany has been dead for a little more than three decades.
- But the former GDR just keeps popping up on all kinds of maps.
- It's a sign that life in the east of Germany is still very different from the west.
Forgotten, but not gone<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MDI2MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMDc1NH0.tQUpgk37JGF1acCXHUeVM4xPm7UBOi0wQU8W7tVVli4/img.jpg?width=980" id="a8b01" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3fd783aaf8d6e7c9b2134cfebcec62a2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bThe Berlin Wall in 1986, seen from West Berlin." data-width="2000" data-height="1500" />
The Berlin Wall in 1986, seen from West Berlin.
Credit: Noir, CC BY-SA 3.0<p>The GDR may be forgotten, but it's not gone. Apart from a shrinking handful of diehard nostalgics, nobody mourns the passing of the German Democratic Republic, as communist East Germany (1949-1990) was officially known. </p><p><span></span>It became such an exemplar of the chasm between the high ideals and grim reality of Soviet-style socialism that the regime literally had to fence in its citizens to keep them from running away. Up until the building of the Berlin Wall (1961), hundreds of East Germans each day 'voted with their feet', defecting to West Germany – decadent and capitalist, yes; hence also a lot more fun. </p><p>Inevitably, the fall of the Wall in 1989 was the death-knell for East Germany. We've just passed the 30th anniversary of German reunification, which came into effect on October 3, 1990. But after three decades of painful economic, political, and cultural adjustments, the ghost of East Germany lingers on the map. </p><p>Like secret messages that become visible under UV light, the contours of the GDR come out when you apply the right data filters. And not just once or twice. Again and again, we see the old (and to some, familiar) borders emerge. In other words, the German Democratic Republic is a map zombie. That's because life continues to be different in former East Germany – even if it's now just the east of Germany. </p><p>Below are some examples, selected from the Facebook group with the self-explanatory name: <em><a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/574393296263130" target="_blank">East Germany is discernibly visible on this relatable map</a></em>. <br></p>
The unhappy east<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MDI3NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMTc3NjgwOH0.gEVNNfAvAPM23ezXM2hLUtphJ0ULVTU17VTjxBctM-U/img.jpg?width=980" id="c65f6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d698a26b81588a95e16f3909e435f6d2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bHappiness map of Germany. Can you spot the GDR?" data-width="900" data-height="600" />
Happiness map of Germany. Can you spot the GDR?
Credit: Facebook / ARD, infratest / welt.de<p>East Germans are less happy than their western compatriots. Out of a maximum of 10 on the happiness scale, most of the former GDR colors red (below 7.2), the rest orange (between 7.2 and 7.4). </p><p>In the west, few areas are orange and none are red. Most areas are yellow-happy (7.4 to 7.6), and light-green-happy (7.6 to 7.7). Southern Bavaria (dark green; 7.7 and up) is the happiest corner of Germany. </p>
Too bourgeois for the GDR?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MDI4MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MDY2OTI4Mn0.49Mepq0wFMkaNco1ewd_LTAHbxXoUeD5i2y2xKm5BrE/img.jpg?width=980" id="b2622" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a0f160d58c39af3d263b400deed897b3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Distribution of tennis courts in Germany." data-width="717" data-height="756" />
Game, set and match!
Credit: Facebook / Laura Edelbacher<p>In the old Soviet bloc, sports were a propaganda tool, and athletic excellence a way to prove the regime's supremacy on the world stage. </p><p>But apparently, tennis was not the right vehicle – perhaps the East German communists thought it too bourgeois. That would explain why there is such a marked difference between east and west when it comes to the distribution of tennis courts. </p>
Lower wages<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MDI4NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NDY3MDgyMH0.v0kPCG6wgKzrkAuRwTX7HKld03hcpyfzR-0Rkd6YpGc/img.png?width=980" id="ed32b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="83574934364788c0082e3aca9e109926" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The average wage in Wolfsburg is double that as in the adjacent area in the former GDR." data-width="1600" data-height="1600" />
The average wage in Wolfsburg is double that as in the adjacent area in the former GDR.
Credit: Facebook / Katapult<p>Thirty years after reunification, Germany's economy remains unbalanced along familiar lines. This map shows the averages for gross monthly wages: below €3000 in red areas (below €2500 in dark red zones). Almost all of the light red areas are in the east, none of the dark red ones are in the west.</p><p>Tantalizingly, Germany's highest-earning area (Wolfsburg, €5089) is right on the former East German border, next to an area with half the average wages. Car aficionados will recognize the name of the city as the home of Volkswagen HQ and the world's largest car plant. </p>
Too many Ronnies<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MDI5MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MDY2ODM5MX0.AbcsORja8k8vfzar8Umkr38Pb-JNoi98xIwf1Jx_JnU/img.jpg?width=980" id="5eaef" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a5f205b01d156c1503016d3a281be99e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bDemocratic Republic of Ronnyland." data-width="520" data-height="640" />
Democratic Republic of Ronnyland.
Credit: Facebook<p>Older British TV viewers will remember a comic duo called "The Two Ronnies." If they had been German comedians, their names would have immediately pegged them as <em>Ossis</em> (eastern Germans). </p><p>'Ronny' is as popular in the east as it isn't in the west. In the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt (the dark-blue area on the map), between 66 and 78 out of 10,000 Facebook users carry that first name. In the rest of the former GDR (the middle-blue area), it's 54 to 66. In almost all of western Germany, the rate is below 18. </p>
More public childcare<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MDI5Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTMxODc5MX0.NCcVJCD04tRjwXNejeI3ztx00nahPganNTk6n-FdET4/img.jpg?width=980" id="6efba" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="eac1ee4c3681d9469473dea16d6fb93c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Credit: Facebook" data-width="541" data-height="696" />
In the east, more than half the kids under three attend publicly-funded daycare.
Credit: Facebook<p>The legacy of the communist past isn't all bad, it seems. Some collectivist traditions and provisions survive. Like more public childcare. This map shows the share of under-threes going to publicly-funded daycare centers: over 50 percent in most of the former GDR. <br></p>
Mosques vs. hazelnut spread<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MDMwMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDMwMTU3N30._QOaEuXR53VFUjNB1IajvOJaAp6VDuWbKmSk_27kU7U/img.jpg?width=980" id="2fc38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c3e16b3366387933bc80821e25f41bd9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bLike twins separated at birth, east and west developed fascinating differences." data-width="1950" data-height="1100" />
Like twins separated at birth, east and west developed fascinating differences.
Credit: Facebook<p>Like one of those sets of twins separated at birth, East and West Germany are a fascinating study in similarities and differences – some large, some small. The economic powerhouse that West Germany became needed foreign workers. Many came from Turkey, as evidenced by this map of mosques in Germany: only a handful are in the east.</p><p>In its decades alone, East Germany developed a range of household products, often barely disguised copies of western consumer goods. Many are on display in Berlin's <a href="https://www.ddr-museum.de/en" target="_blank">DDR Museum</a>. Nudossi, often dismissively called 'Ost-Nutella', is one of the rare brands that survived reunification. Perhaps that's because the spread contains 36 percent hazelnuts, almost three times the amount of actual Nutella (13 percent). Still, <em>Wessis</em> (western Germans) are clearly less keen on the stuff. <br></p>
Far left, far right<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MDMxMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NTUzNDQ3Nn0.Ic-7rSrEABpK-3s7KUYyVu_pNF7SpktdritO7aNqrvU/img.jpg?width=980" id="0f4f2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dfd8ccc54555cc9cf8a455c58ce6bf1e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bVoting patterns in the east tend to be more eccentric in the east." data-width="895" data-height="528" />
Voting patterns in the east tend to be more eccentric in the east.
Credit: Facebook / GeoCurrents<p>Voting patterns in the east tend to be more eccentric in the east. The map on the left shows the results for the 2013 federal elections of <em>Die Linke </em>(the Left Party), which positions itself firmly to the left of the SPD, the mainstream social-democratic party. Die Linke garnered between 20 percent and a quarter of the votes right across the former GDR, and was nowhere near as successful anywhere else in Germany. <br></p><p>More recently, the right-wing populists of <em>Alternative für Deutschland </em>(AfD) have found a lot of support in the east. The undated map shows voting intentions for recent upcoming state elections. AfD is particularly strong in the south of the former GDR (26 percent in Saxony, 22 percent in Thuringia). Its highest score in the west is 11.6 percent in Baden-Württemberg. <br></p>
Catholic, Protestant and None<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MDMxOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjAxNDQ2Nn0.2wAxKPMyOORSt8iDwRNz0vH4Kh0vJG8ZMpENlV4e4wY/img.jpg?width=980" id="d3ee4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e798ba47944ec0ffff3c9037341ff83b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200b'Nones' are the majority throughout East Germany." data-width="1843" data-height="2048" />
'Nones' are the majority throughout East Germany.
Credit: Facebook<p>Confessionally, Germany also remains a divided nation. This map shows which religion dominates where. Catholics predominate in the south and west (dark red: majority, light red: plurality). Protestants are a majority in the north and middle (dark blue), a plurality in the southwest (light blue). </p><p>East Germany is easily discernible: it's the part where the main religious affiliation is 'none'. That also includes the whole of Berlin (including the western half), plus the western cities of Hamburg and Frankfurt. <br></p>
Poor overall, but not poorest overall<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MDMyMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTUzNjA2Nn0.gLo4f36orZ-5Ba-0gtccNA7ecFuRqOeKyOmEFSOkDXU/img.jpg?width=980" id="9c75b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ba55b7f53e300c78c2a21c58ef83c83e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bThe western state of North Rhine-Westphalia has an ever higher poverty rate than the former GDR." data-width="960" data-height="532" />
The western state of North Rhine-Westphalia has an ever higher poverty rate than the former GDR.
Credit: Facebook / Tagesschau<p>The former GDR has a consistently high poverty rate: an average of 17.5 percent throughout all six <em>Länder</em> (states). But there's a silver lining, of sorts: the poverty rate is even higher in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (18.1 percent), which contains the <em>Ruhrgebiet</em>, a.k.a. Germany's Rust Belt. <br></p>
Slavic haplogroup<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MDMyNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTkyMTM0MX0.CIRlbHO2xOsMOrVjCer17FdkS3E6gVkHsJZL_c5-Q4Y/img.jpg?width=980" id="9d82e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2c9632a6b8163853faac9cdcbb9b7ba7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bThe R1a haplogroup is a genetic marker associated with Slavic populations." data-width="602" data-height="641" />
The R1a haplogroup is a genetic marker associated with Slavic populations.
Credit: Facebook<p>The former border between East and West Germany mirrors a much older one: the western extent of the Slavic zone around the year 1000. This map shows the spread of the R1a haplogroup among locals.</p><p>This genetic marker is associated with Slavic populations. It is prevalent throughout the former GDR, particularly the south – and in eastern Austria, by the way. R1a 'islands' further west may be the result of more recent immigration waves, by Polish guest workers for example. <br></p>
Streetcars and streetlights<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MDMzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODA4NzUxMn0.hGpLARyUcurqaPxspnIFbpMAKu9pAQs0JlpIkktz1C4/img.jpg?width=980" id="f7796" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="584ac4bdafe38cd0a0a63cf2d62e4f96" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bIn Berlin, the past is never dead. In fact, it's not even past." data-width="660" data-height="893" />
In Berlin, the past is never dead. In fact, it's not even past.
Credit: Facebook<p>And finally, two images that zoom in on Berlin. Now the reunified capital of a reunified country, before 1990 it was as divided as Germany itself. And that is still visible, if you know where to look. </p><p>At the map of Berlin's streetcars (<em>top</em>), for example. West Berlin never took the step to restore the pre-war streetcar network on its territory. East Berlin did. And that's still the case – with one exception: a single line was extended from the east to the west, a rare example of the west adopting anything 'eastern'.</p><p>When night falls, the division between east and west can still be seen from the sky. In the east, street lights use sodium vapor lamps, providing a warm orange glow. In the west, the lamps are fluorescent, resulting in a brighter yellow light. <br></p><p><br></p><p><em>All maps taken from the Facebook group </em><a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/574393296263130" target="_blank">East Germany is clearly visible on this relatable map</a><em>. Where possible, credit was given to the original content provider.</em></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1063</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em></p>
Map shows oldest buildings for each U.S. state – but also hints at what's missing.
- How old is the oldest building in your state? This map will tell you.
- While the East Coast has some pretty ancient stuff, the oldest buildings elsewhere are many centuries older.
- The Pueblo dwellings in the Four Corners states go back to 750 CE.
Oldest drinking establishment<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTU4Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjk1ODM2NX0.IJ6vJ-MxeSdgAkDrvkvQTTXPipbBizbDKHFkNFKUTFs/img.jpg?width=980" id="2ac3b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3cab5af48086fc901853f3e64be5e186" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The White Horse Tavern in Newport, the oldest drinking establishment in the United States." data-width="3000" data-height="2002" />
The White Horse Tavern in Newport, the oldest drinking establishment in the United States.
Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>What's the difference between a European and an American? Well, there are many, but here's a good one: for a European, 100 miles is far; for an American, 100 years is old. </p><p><span></span>It's a cliché with some truth to it. In Europe's political and cultural mosaic, 100 miles may put you in a different country, among people with whom you don't even share a language. Consequently, most Europeans are not keen to move too far away from home. </p><p><span></span>America, on the other hand, was built by and for people with the moving itch. In 2018, <a href="https://www.moving.com/tips/us-moving-statistics-f..." target="_blank">1 in 10 Americans moved home</a>. Of those, 15 percent moved to another state.</p><p>However, what Europe's human geography lacks in long distances, it makes up for in longevity. In Ireland, for example, you can drink at Sean's Bar, which has stood near the banks of the Shannon since the year 900 (for more 'oldest companies', see #<a href="https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/oldest-companies" target="_blank">1042</a>).</p><p>By comparison, the oldest drinking establishment in the United States, the White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island has only just opened its doors: it's from the late 18th century, which means it's not even three and a half centuries old.</p><p><span></span>As demonstrated by this map of the oldest buildings for each U.S. state (plus Puerto Rico), most of the nation's ancient real estate is even younger: 15 buildings are from the 19th century, 18 are from the 18th century. A further dozen places on the map were built by conquerors and colonizers after the European arrival in the Americas, clocking in at half a millennium or less. </p><p><span></span>The really old stuff is of Native origin – the oldest even predates the Irish drinking establishment by a century and a half. What's remarkable, however, is that there is so little of it. Only six states have Native American (or Hawaiian) structures as their oldest buildings.</p><p><span></span>A few non-sinister reasons can be adduced. Many Native tribes led itinerant lives, without the need for permanent dwellings; and those that did settle down often built houses out of wattle, wood and other matters that easily decay. </p><p>However, the preponderance of 'European' buildings also masks a grimmer truth. Many Native structures were abandoned and fell into disrepair or oblivion when the Europeans arrived, or were destroyed outright. <br></p>
Mounds not included<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTU5NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1ODQ0ODM4NX0.f9aVd-d4fW-6YixSep6J_Z_7u4bYTKpZjnsF5Jam0po/img.png?width=980" id="f3b1c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c76ee52a2fe94dca9eeedd60ddc2aa2d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bDue to the definition used, Native structures that don't qualify as buildings have not been included on the map." data-width="3840" data-height="2160" />
Due to the definition used, Native structures that don't qualify as buildings have not been included on the map.
Credit: Malcolm Tunnell, reproduced with kind permission<p>An argument may be had about the criteria for inclusion. It defines a 'building' as a free-standing, human-made structure used at least at some point for residential purposes, and still standing today. </p><p><span></span>That excludes a lot of older mounds of Native origin, such as the Etowah Indian Mounds (near Atlanta) and Monks' Mound (near St Louis). However, it is unclear why the list should include a number of churches, which never had an appreciable residential function. </p><p><span></span>Finally, this list, culled from the National Register of Historic Places and–gulp–Wikipedia is not without its problems. Some of the datings are disputed, and in several cases, states have competing candidates for 'oldest building'. </p><p>All that being said, the map does present a clear lesson. Leave the states with Native buildings out of the equation, and a familiar pattern becomes visible. The oldest structures are on the Eastern Seaboard, next up are what is now the Midwest and the Pacific coast. Then comes the 'Wild' west, the last frontier. This is the story of westward expansion and fulfillment of Manifest Destiny. </p><p>But the map also reveals traces of an older, less familiar narrative. The Ancestral Puebloans were already carving out their desert mansions around 750 CE, before there even was an England. We know little of the culture that built the Ocmulgee Earthlodge in Georgia around the year 1000. The Malae Heiau barely escaped bulldozing, despite being at least 800 years old. These Native structures, what few remain, contradict the well-worn story – or complete it, if you will. </p><p>Here's an overview of all the places on the map, from youngest to oldest. <br></p>
The 'youngest' oldest building<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTYwMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjIyMTIyN30.bCU7A55I71nXRurkS8nUbNS4UMnG6Kck_y5NsuLvXnU/img.jpg?width=980" id="a6471" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f46235563618e5555c971c8801028934" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bMagazine at Fort Sisseton, the oldest building complex in South Dakota." data-width="2019" data-height="1393" />
Magazine at Fort Sisseton, the oldest building complex in South Dakota.
Credit: Ammodramus, Public Domain.<p><strong>1864 - </strong><strong>South Dakota: Fort Sisseton, Lake City</strong></p><p>The 'youngest' oldest building of any state. Named after a local Indian tribe, this fort is located atop the Coteau des Prairies, an excellent defensive position.</p><p><strong>1855 - Nevada: Old Mormon Fort, Las Vegas</strong></p><p>The first permanent structure in what is now Las Vegas was an adobe fort built by Mormons, sent out from Utah to set up a new stronghold for the Latter-Day Saints. That didn't quite go as planned.</p><p><strong>1853 - Idaho: Cataldo Mission, Cataldo</strong></p><p>The Mission of the Sacred Heart in Cataldo was built by Catholic missionaries to the tribe of the Cœur d'Alene tribe. A picture of this mission hangs in the Brumidi Corridors of the US Capitol.</p><p><strong>1849 - Wyoming: Fort Laramie, Goshen</strong></p><p>Founded as a private fur trading station, later repurposed as a military fort. </p><p><strong>1844 - Montana: Old Fort Benton Blockhouse, Fort Benton</strong></p><p>Once the terminus of the Mullan Road, which linked the Missouri and Columbia rivers, and the last fur trading post on the Upper Missouri River. </p><p><strong>1843 - North Dakota: Kittson Trading Post, Walhalla</strong></p><p>This is the only surviving of three trading posts built by, Norman W. Kittson, trader for the American Fur Company. It was later used as stables for a local hotel. </p><p><strong>1843 - Washington: Fort Nisqually granary, Tacoma</strong></p><p>Founded in 1833 and currently located in Point Defiance Park, Fort Nisqually is the oldest European settlement on Puget Sound. The granary is its oldest surviving building.</p><p><strong>1840 - Oklahoma: Fort Gibson Barracks, Fort Gibson</strong></p><p>In competition for the title of oldest building in the state with the Cherokee National Supreme Court Building in Tahlequah.</p><p><strong>1835 - Nebraska: log cabin, Bellevue</strong></p><p>According to legend, this log cabin was built as an outpost of John Jacob Astor's legendary American Fur Company. Due to a cholera outbreak, it was moved away from the Missouri River, and in 1850 it was relocated to its present position, near the Old Presbyterian Church.</p><p><strong>1833 - Iowa: Louis Arriandeaux Log House, Dubuque</strong></p><p>The log cabin originally stood at 2nd and Locust Streets in Dubuque but has since been moved twice. The oldest building in Iowa, once home to pioneer settler William Newman, can now be found on the grounds of the Mathias Ham House. <br></p>
Grouseland, fit for a president<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTYxNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzAwNjE1OH0.a-6FoXJ10GCwQoiXXd7FUDbxzQ0s--fkhj7-3CUOFUA/img.jpg?width=980" id="63e2f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a5c6d5e03d7414ecd461cfcc31d35838" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Grouseland was built by William Henry Harrison before he became the 9th president of the United States." data-width="2816" data-height="2112" />
Grouseland was built by William Henry Harrison before he became the 9th president of the United States.
Credit: Nyttend, Public Domain.<p><strong>1824 - Arkansas: Woodruff Print Shop, Little Rock</strong></p><p><strong></strong>In the late 1810s, New Yorker Andrew Woodruff moved to Arkansas, where he would publish the Arkansas Gazette. From 1824, he lived and worked in the print shop that is now part of the Historic Arkansas Museum.</p><p><strong>1820 - Minnesota: Fort Snelling Round Tower, St Paul</strong></p><p><strong></strong>When Fort Snelling was completed in 1825, this tower–built at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers–was already five years old. The Fort's aim was to keep British influence out of what was then the Northwestern United States and it was in service until 1858. </p><p><strong>1810 - Alaska: Baranov Museum, Kodiak</strong></p><p>Originally built as a warehouse for the Russian-American Trading Company in Kodiak, the oldest Russian settlement in Alaska. The building housed workers in the 19th century, was the site of a murder in 1886, and is supposedly haunted. </p><p><strong>1808 - Alabama: Joel Eddins House, Huntsville</strong></p><p>Originally built in Ardmore, this log cabin was moved to its current location in 2007. </p><p><strong>1804 - Indiana: Grouseland, Vincennes</strong></p><p>William Henry Harrison was not only the 9th president of the United States, but also the builder of what has turned out to be the oldest building in Indiana. He built Grouseland, a brick mansion, in 1804 when he was governor of the Indiana Territory. He lived there until 1812, when he took command of American forces in the Northwest Territory in the war with the British. </p><p><strong>1799 - Oregon: Molalla Log House, Molalla</strong></p><p>Built by fur traders of French-Canadian and/or Native American origin.</p><p><strong>1792 - Missouri: Louis Bolduc House, Sainte Genevieve</strong></p><p>Ste Genevieve is Missouri's oldest European settlement, founded by the French and named after the patron saint of Paris. The oldest house in town was built by Louis Bolduc, trader, miner, planter, and a descendant of Louis XIV's apothecary.</p><p><strong>1790 - Kentucky: Historic Locust Grove, Louisville</strong></p><p>In the running for oldest building in Kentucky, in close competition with the Old Providence Church in Winchester, John Andrew Miller House near Georgetown, and others. Lewis and Clark were officially welcomed back here in November 1809, after their western expedition.</p><p><strong>1788 - Ohio: General Rufus Putnam House, Rutland</strong></p><p>Named after Rufus Putnam, a Revolutionary War general who helped found Marietta, Ohio. Now a B&B.<br></p>
The convent saved by prayer<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTYyNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODEwODE5MX0.-OsynrFzl2b0fUX5v6vYl-WdmYTFs6QOnss1tgXOVcM/img.jpg?width=980" id="b08df" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="96d510ec5d6fa2164c7d9c429b047a32" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The Old Ursuline Convent in New Orleans." data-width="4355" data-height="3421" />
The Old Ursuline Convent in New Orleans.
Credit: Carol M. Highsmith / Library of Congress, Public Domain.<p><strong></strong><strong>1785 - West Virginia: Rehoboth Church, Monroe County</strong></p><p>A log cabin outside the town of Union, built as a Methodist church, is now a National Methodist Shrine. </p><p><strong>1780 - Michigan: Officers' Stone Quarters, Mackinac Island</strong></p><p>The Officers' Stone Quarters are the oldest part of Fort Mackinac, an originally British fort on Mackinac Island that was turned over to the Americans in 1796.</p><p><strong>1778 - Tennessee: Christopher Taylor House, Jonesborough</strong></p><p>Built by Christopher Taylor, a veteran of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. Andrew Jackson lived in it in 1788-1789 while practicing law in Jonesborough. Possibly the oldest house in the state; another candidate is the Carter Mansion in Elizabethton.</p><p><strong>1776 - Wisconsin: Tank Cottage, Green Bay</strong></p><p>Built by French-Canadian fur trader Joseph Roi on the Fox River, purchased in 1850 by Nils Otto Tank, a Norwegian missionary.</p><p><strong>1776 - California: Mission San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano</strong></p><p>The mission survived dereliction, earthquakes, revolution, and expropriation. In 1910, it was the backdrop for "The Two Brothers" by D.W. Griffith, the first movie shot in Orange County. The mission of San Juan Capistrano is famous for the swallows that return here each spring. Mission San Diego de Alcalá (est. 1769) was the first in California and is thus older; but none of the original buildings survive.</p><p><strong>1769 - Vermont: William Henry House, Bennington</strong></p><p>Built for Elnathan Hubbell and reworked around 1797 for William Henry, a locally prominent politician whose son went on to become a U.S. Congressman. Now operating as a B&B.</p><p><strong>1765 - Washington DC: Old Stone House</strong></p><p>When it was built, the Old Stone House stood in the British colony of Maryland. The building was preserved out of reverence for the city's founders – by accident. It was thought this was where George Washington met with Pierre L'Enfant, who designed the DC street grid. But it turns out this was not Suter's Tavern. At the time, this was a clock shop, owned by the tavern holder's son, John Suter Jr. </p><p><strong>1757 - Mississippi: LaPointe-Krebs House, Pascagoula</strong></p><p>Also known as the Old Spanish Fort, this house is the oldest structure in the entire Mississippi Valley.</p><p><strong>1748 - Louisiana: Old Ursuline Convent, New Orleans</strong></p><p>The convent was spared destruction by a city-wide fire, which stopped just a street short of the building, perhaps thanks to the nuns' prayers to Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Prayers are still addressed to her when hurricanes and other disasters threaten the city. </p><p><strong>1740 - Illinois: Old Cahokia Courthouse, Cahokia</strong></p><p>Built in the 1730s by the French as a house, it has been used as a courthouse since 1793 and is most famous as the headquarters for Lewis and Clark around 1803 when planning their expedition. <br></p>
America’s oldest masonry fortress<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTYzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3Mjg4NjM3OX0.NcDoGkzp2vaRaFHWhphsb9VgicqCAFOMJQq2O2_qJcQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="0dee5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2d001281cb97bb426261e1a69eb01d3e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The Castillo de San Marcos, as seen from above." data-width="5948" data-height="4636" />
The Castillo de San Marcos, as seen from above.
Credit: Daniel Cring, CC BY-SA 4.0.<p><strong>1724 - Texas: Alamo Mission Long Barracks, San Antonio</strong></p><p>The oldest extant part of the Alamo, which was founded as a Spanish mission but is best remembered for the Battle of the Alamo (1836), which played an important role in Texan independence from Mexico. </p><p><strong>1718 - North Carolina: Lane House, Edenton</strong></p><p>Steve and Linda Lane didn't know how old their house was until they had it renovated. Behind the cheap wall paneling, the workers found 18th-century timber structures. </p><p><strong>1694 - South Carolina: Middleburg Plantation, Berkeley County</strong></p><p>This two-story frame house was built by Benjamin Simons, a French Huguenot planter, and is still owned by his descendants.</p><p><strong>1675 - Maryland: Old Trinity Church, Church Creek</strong></p><p>An Anglican church since 1692, the building has been Protestant Episcopal since the Revolution. The cemetery holds the remains of several revolutionary war heroes. </p><p><strong>1673 - Rhode Island: White Horse Tavern, Newport</strong></p><p>Not just the oldest building in the state, also the oldest bar in the entire country. In the spirit of its age, the tavern is still lit by oil lamps and candles.</p><p><strong>1672 - Florida: Castillo de San Marcos, St Augustine</strong></p><p>The Spanish-built Caste of St Mark is the only surviving 17th-century military structure in the United States. It is also the country's oldest masonry fortress. It is located in St Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the continental United States. </p><p><strong>1665 - Delaware: Ryves Holt House, Lewes</strong></p><p>Built by Dutch settlers but named after the first Chief Justice of Delaware, who bought it in 1723. </p><p><strong>1660 - Maine: William Whipple House, Kittery</strong></p><p>Birthplace of General William Whipple, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. </p><p><strong>1650 - Kansas: El Quartelejo ruins, Lake Scott S.P.</strong></p><p>The northernmost Native American pueblo and the only one in Kansas, established by a group that left New Mexico. In 1706, the Spanish conquered the area and forced the inhabitants back. The structure was rediscovered in 1898 and is now part of a State Park.</p><p><strong>1650 - Pennsylvania: Lower Swedish Cabin, Drexel Hill</strong></p><p>Now on the outskirts of Philadelphia, this cabin was built by Swedish immigrants as a trading post. It has since served various purposes, including film set and girl scout meeting house. <span></span></p>
Ancestral dwellings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTY0Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Mzg3NjAzNH0.xYje3n-guUIGKTS1gOy2zSaBPJGyC0XBwJrg5MhCDog/img.jpg?width=980" id="c2e53" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="179d0c4da43866666bfbe635d0a47f60" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Thousand-year-old Puebloan structures built adjacent the living rock, creating buildings that stood the test of time." data-width="1280" data-height="853" />
Thousand-year-old Puebloan structures built adjacent the living rock, creating buildings that stood the test of time.
Credit: au_ears, CC BY-SA 2.0.<p><strong>1647 - Virginia: Jamestown Church, Jamestown</strong></p><p>Only the tower dates from the 16th century, the rest of this building in Historic Jamestown park is actually the sixth version of the original. In one of those, Pocahontas and John Rolfe got married.</p><p><span></span><strong>1641 - Massachusetts: Fairbanks House, Dedham</strong></p><p>Fairbanks House is the oldest still standing wooden structure in North America. It was built for Jonathan Fairbanks, a tradesman, and his family. His descendants continued to live in the house well into the 20th century. </p><p><span></span><strong>1640 - Connecticut: Henry Whitfield House, Guilford</strong></p><p>Built for the Reverend Henry Whitfield, a Puritan leader and the founder of Guilford. This is the oldest stone house in all of New England.</p><p><span></span><strong>1639 - New York: Gardiners Island shed, Gardiners Island</strong></p><p>A wooden shed purportedly built when Lion Gardiner bought the island from Montaukett chief Wyandanch. Located off the tip of Long Island, Gardiners Island is still owned by Gardiner's descendants. It is one of the largest private islands in the U.S. In June 1699, Captain Kidd buried treasure here (it has since been retrieved – you're too late).</p><p><span></span><strong>1600 - New Hampshire: Strawbery Banke, Portsmouth</strong></p><p>Not a single building but an entire historic district, featuring around 40 restored buildings. Saved from redevelopment in the 1950s, the area opened as a museum in 1965.</p><p><span></span><strong>1521 - Puerto Rico: Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, San Juan</strong></p><p>Extensively added to and renovated since its inauguration almost five centuries ago, this is the oldest church in the United States and its territories.</p><p><span></span><strong>1200 - Hawaii: Malae Heiau, Wailua River S.P.</strong></p><p>The largest <em>heiau</em> (Hawaiian temple) on Kauai, one of the largest surviving temple platforms in all of Hawaii, as well as the oldest building still in existence in the state. </p><p><span></span><strong>1015 - Georgia: Ocmulgee Earth Lodge, Macon</strong></p><p>A reconstructed ceremonial lodge originally built a millennium ago by the South Appalachian Mississippian culture on a site with evidence of 17,000 years of continuous human habitation. It is now part of the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.</p><p><span></span><strong>Ca. 750 - Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico Utah: ancestral Puebloan dwellings</strong></p><p>Hundreds of stone and adobe dwellings, often constructed in canyon walls, scattered throughout the Four Corners states. Most were abandoned around 1300 due to climate change.</p><p><em><br></em></p><p><span></span><em>Map by Malcolm Tunnell, reproduced with kind permission. See the original context </em><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/jvl8w6/o..." target="_blank">here</a>. </p><p><span></span><strong>Strange Maps #1062</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em><br></p>
For a purely binary choice, wearing a ring either on the left or right hand can say a lot about the wearer.
- Europeans are getting married less, but wearing a wedding ring is more standardised than ever.
- Standardised doesn't mean homogenised: some countries prefer rings on the left, others on the right.
- However, this map does not capture the range of subtleties that wearing a ring on either side can convey.
Remarkable variation<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk0ODU2OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3Mzk0NzE4Nn0.L4f0h4NRI5IKqJAZaHgzC1x2hNBKHMGMz_FnWbhqSTQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="8a6a6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7c5c53ee027e14f0d0f2bf7c1b7d4579" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bWedding ring throwing a heart-shaped shadow on the pages of a dictionary." data-width="1952" data-height="1120" />
Wedding ring throwing a heart-shaped shadow on the pages of a dictionary.
Credit: Roger McLassus, CC BY-SA 3.0<p>Europeans <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Marriage_and_divorce_statistics#Fewer_marriages.2C_more_divorces" target="_blank">are falling out of love with marriage</a>. Back in 1965, the <em>crude marriage rate</em> in the 27 countries now constituting the EU was 7.8 (per 1,000 persons per year). By 2017, that figure had almost halved, to 4.4. Over the same period, the <em>crude divorce rate</em> more than doubled, from 0.8 to 2.</p><p><span></span>Still, that means that in 2017, 3.8 million Europeans got married. Tied the knot. Put a ring on it. Which brings us to the question answered by this map: <em>on which finger</em>? The ring finger, of course. But<em> on which hand</em>? In the U.S., the consensus is: on the left. However, as this map shows, there is a remarkable variation in ring-wearing traditions across Europe. </p><p><span></span>According to this map, Europe is fairly evenly divided between countries where the wedding ring is worn on the left (in green), and those where the matrimonial band is worn on the right (in red). </p><p><span></span>Major left-wearing countries are the U.K., France, and Italy. </p><ul><li>Left-hand wedding rings are also <em>de rigueur</em> across the Nordics (Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Estonia),</li><li>in Central Europe (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova),</li><li>in the north-western Balkans (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia)</li><li>and in a few other countries (Ireland, Portugal, Turkey, Switzerland, Kazakhstan).</li></ul><p>Russia, Germany, Poland, and Ukraine are the largest right-wearing countries.</p><ul><li>There's also a smattering of similarly minded countries in the west (Belgium, Denmark, Norway),</li><li>a corridor or right-wearers stretching from Germany to Cyprus (via Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Greece), </li><li>and a few former Soviet states continuing their alignment with Mother Russia (Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Georgia).</li></ul><p>Finally, Spain and the Netherlands have no uniform tradition, with left-wearers and right-wearers according to region or religion.<br></p>
The vein of love<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk0ODU2OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTg5NjQxM30.V74gNXCwgfcqrSAF9lqoxkndht5C6p8zUgyiVB4V3SU/img.jpg?width=980" id="023ec" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="79061dc63fb6c7134530557c0a0a9288" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A map of wedding ring-wearing traditions in Europe." data-width="1080" data-height="749" />
A map of wedding ring-wearing traditions in Europe.
Credit: Reddit/MapPorn<p>Before we examine the difference, let's pause a while to contemplate a phenomenon so uniform–the wedding ring goes on the finger next to the pinkie–that we've even named the digit after it. </p><p><span></span>Wearing a ring as a visible sign of the wearer's married status is a tradition that goes back to the ancient Egyptians. They believed a 'vein of love' connected the pinkie's neighbor straight to the heart. That belief was taken over by the Greeks and the Romans (who called it the <em>vena amoris</em>). Hence the tradition for wearing the wedding ring on the 'ring finger'. (1)</p><p><span></span>That tradition was not uniform, though: some early Celtic peoples wore their wedding ring on the middle finger, while in 17th-century England it was not uncommon to wear it on the thumb. </p><p><span></span>Also non-traditional: <em>men</em> wearing wedding rings. In many cultures, only women wore wedding rings. In Germany, for example, the custom for both parties each to wear a ring only became general in the second half of the 19th century. Male wedding rings took off in the UK and other English-speaking countries only during (and because of) the First and Second World Wars. The men away on military duty started wearing rings to remind them of their wife at home.</p><p>So, even as weddings themselves are on a slow decline, the wearing of wedding rings has become a standardised aspect of the married state. Except for that difference between the left and right hand. </p><p>That difference is more difficult to explain, apparently quite resistant to standardisation and, as evidenced by the reaction generated by this map, also more subtle than the various shadings it proposes. <br></p>
Closer to the heart<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk0ODU3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MDUxOTc1M30.QPS7a-T0pGaXAkap5YhjfttQxr6JJIPYpjE-XO0afVk/img.jpg?width=980" id="eed98" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="647087f368f2fd858431ff8b4140dfc7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Edouard Manet: In the Conservatory." data-width="1280" data-height="979" />
Mr and Mrs Guillemet, a 19th-century Parisian couple, wearing their wedding rings on the left hand, as is still the custom in France.
Credit: Edouard Manet: 'Dans la serre' (1878-9) – Public Domain<p>Why wear the wedding ring left or right? The difference seems to be merely based on precedent – although some arguments can be found for either option.</p><ul><li>Wearing the ring on the left means it's closer to the heart. Also, this has slight advantages in terms of safety and convenience, if the wearer belongs to the right-handed majority.</li><li>Wearing the ring on the right is relevant because it's the side you shake hands with, so people will be able to tell whether you're married. Also, the right hand is the more important hand, because it's the one you swear with.</li></ul><p>In some European traditions, including many Orthodox ones, the wedding ring is worn on the left hand before marriage, then transferred to the right hand during the ceremony. In Turkey, it's generally the other way around. </p><p>In others, a relatively plain engagement ring is worn on one hand before marriage, replaced by a more ornate wedding ring on the other hand after marriage. However, in the U.K. (and possibly elsewhere), some people 'stack' the rings, wearing the engagement ring over the wedding ring, both on the left ring finger. </p><p>As for the mixed countries: in Spain, the difference is regional, while in the Netherlands it is religious. </p><ul><li>In Spain, wedding rings are generally worn on the right, except in Catalonia and adjacent regions, such as Valencia and the Balearic Islands.</li><li>In the Netherlands, Protestants wear their wedding ring on the right, while Catholics wear it on their left. However, engaged Protestants would have a ring on the left hand, moving it to the right when marrying. Prompting <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/gjv3bt/ring_finger_preference_in_europe/fqoyowl/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">one commenter </a>on Reddit to exasperate: <em>"Then how do you tell an engaged Protestant from a married Catholic? Holy hell. The taste?"</em></li></ul><p>A few other countries should have been shaded as well, other commenters pointed out, at least Austria, Belgium, and Bosnia.</p><ul><li>While many Belgian married couples wear their ring on the left, in some regions (including Antwerp and Brabant provinces) it's worn on the right. In yet parts of the country, the custom varies from town to town.</li><li>Contrary to the rest of Austria, in the state of Tyrol, engagement rings are worn on the right, wedding rings on the left.</li></ul>Other countries should be marked in the other color, some commenters with lived experience point out: Bulgaria and Georgia are left-handed countries, Turkey and Kazakhstan right-handed ones. Although one witness claims Turkish women wear their rings on the left, while their husbands wear theirs on the right. Poland does wear its wedding rings on the right, except if you're a widow(er), in which case you wear your ring on the left to indicate your bereaved status.Who knew you could say so much by just where you wear your ring? <p><br></p><p><em>Map found <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/gjv3bt/ring_finger_preference_in_europe/" target="_blank">here</a> at <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/" target="_blank">MapPorn</a> on <a href="https://www.reddit.com/" target="_blank">Reddit</a>.</em></p> <strong>Strange Maps #1061</strong><p><br><br><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.</p><p><br></p><p>(1) Curiously, the ring finger is known as the 'unnamed' one in languages as diverse as Sanskrit (<em>a</em><em>namika</em>), Chinese (<em>wúmíng zhǐ</em>), Finnish (<em>nimetön sormi</em>) and Russian (<em>bezimyanniy palets</em>), which may refer to ancient beliefs that it is a magical finger. However, the name 'ring finger' goes back at least until the Romans (<em>digitus annularis</em>). In German, because of its association with golden wedding bands, it is also called <em>Goldfinger</em>.</p>
First picture of worldwide bee distribution fills knowledge gaps and may help protect species.
Bee diversity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg2NzM0My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTY3NzgyMH0.sdzn0MenrQ85gIvjYM4rm-7oOVd3dO9gx7nqcm9QMwM/img.jpg?width=980" id="fe916" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2961b6dac8da97fa083cb568b19bab10" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bTwelve different species of bees swarming a flowery meadow. Etching by J. Bishop, after J. Stewart." data-width="2996" data-height="1766" />
Twelve different species of bees swarming a flowery meadow. Etching by J. Bishop, after J. Stewart.
Credit: Wellcome Collection, CC BY 4.0<p>How many bee species are there? Wait a minute: honeybee, bumble bee, erhm… five? Five hundred? Five thousand? Not even close: the total is well over 20,000 – which means there are more species of bees than of birds and mammals combined. </p><p><span></span>There's no shame (nor surprise) for bee civilians like you or me in not knowing that. What is surprising, is that even scientists who specialise in bees didn't quite know how those species are distributed all over the world. Until now. </p><p><span></span>By combining and filtering more than 5.8 million public records of bee occurrences, a team of researchers from China, the U.S., and Singapore have built up the very first comprehensive picture of bee diversity worldwide. And that picture presents a few surprises, both for laypersons and specialists.</p><p>Bee ignoramuses will be surprised to learn that the United States is the throbbing heart of bee diversity. The U.S. has far more bee species than any other region on Earth. And by the fact that large tracts of Africa and the Middle East remain <em>terra incognita</em>, in terms of apiary diversity. <br></p>
Counter-intuitive distribution<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg2NzM0NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzQ3NTMwMX0.poqkJqPj6CPWWN9u_FOt7nBu1lrOc2aSnv1vRO4yOHY/img.png?width=980" id="2acb0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="407b1e60d42246f6cdfd91cfc6ef7839" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bRelative bee species richness in the New World. Note the low density in the Amazon Basin." data-width="1586" data-height="1372" />
Relative bee species richness in the New World. Note the low density in the Amazon Basin.
Credit: Current Biology, open access<p>In general, there are more bee species in the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern and—confirming previous hypotheses–more in arid and temperate climates than in the tropics.</p><p>That goes against the common pattern in biology known as the 'latitudinal gradient', which predicts that species diversity (of most plants and animals) increases towards the tropics and decreases towards the poles. Bees are an exception, with a higher species concentration away from the poles (in what scientists call a 'bimodal latitudinal gradient').</p><p>To give that difference some visual immediacy, imagine a graph with one hump in the middle (i.e. the latitudinal gradient) versus one with two humps, one on either side of the middle (i.e. the bimodal latitudinal gradient). In other words: dromedary (one-hump) versus camel (two-hump). </p><p>It seems counter-intuitive that bees would thrive better in arid deserts than in lush tropical jungles; but that's because trees–the dominant vegetation type in the tropics–provide less bee food than the plants and flowers that grow elsewhere. <span></span></p>
Much-needed baseline<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg2NzM0Ni9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MzY5ODU4MX0.0B0Ixka9uJpMFDozhQ9YcJAX0a6LFuy1HZ0rWWvEA3A/img.png?width=980" id="c7b8b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5d8f1e55aeeda42ef836931ad0095101" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Three ways of measuring species richness in the Americas: (A) richness of polygons, (B) sPCA and (c ) turnover. All suggest a large, distinct bee fauna in the southwestern U.S." data-width="1748" data-height="671" />
Three ways of measuring species richness in the Americas: (A) richness of polygons, (B) sPCA and (c ) turnover. All suggest a large, distinct bee fauna in the southwestern U.S.
Credit: Current Biology, open access<p>Also, bees don't like it too wet, unlike their cousins the ants, whose populations peak in the humid tropics. The researchers think humidity may play a role in limiting bee distribution by spoiling pollen resources.</p><p><span></span>The relative absence of bees from the tropics has consequences for pollination, which in those regions is performed by a wide variety of alternative species: wasps, moths, and even cockroaches.</p><p><span></span>Previous datasets of global bee distribution were either inaccurate, incomplete, or difficult to interpret. This world map clearly establishes that bees prefer dry and temperate zones to wet and tropical ones. For bee scientists, it provides a much-needed baseline to predict the geographic distribution of bees and interpret the relative richness of species. </p><p><span></span>While much work needs to be done to fill additional knowledge gaps, this baseline is an excellent starting point, not just for greater understanding, but also for better conservation. Because bees are not just for making honey. In many countries, they're the top pollinator species. And they typically visit 90 percent of the leading crop types. </p>
Carpenter bee (Xylocopa latipes) pollinating a flower in the Indian state of Kerala.