101 - If Planets Were Countries…
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
… then "Jupiter would be revoking democracy in Russia, Saturn would be curling in Canada, Uranus would be trying to figure out how to speak Kalaallisut, Neptune would be desperately looking for water in Saudi Arabia, and Earth would be searching in vain for Borat."\n
This is a size comparison map, taken from this page at the website statastico.com, which figures a number of intriguing maps. This one is home-made by the author of the site, who got to wondering about an eyecatching way to demonstrate the relative sizes of the planets in our solar system. She/he explains:\n
"What if the planets were shrunk down to the size of countries on Earth? If we scale all of the planets down to about 1/3600th of their total surface area, we can find a comparably-sized country for all of the planets and plutons."\n
Plutons being the name for celestial objects such as Pluto, recently demoted from planet. Confining ourselves to the 8 bona fide planets left in our system, the planet-to-country comparisons work out like this (in descending order of magnitude, I presume):\n
- Jupiter = Russia \n
- Saturn = Canada \n
- Uranus =Greenland \n
- Neptune = Saudi Arabia \n
- Earth = Tajikistan \n
- Venus = Czech Republic \n
- Mars = Switzerland \n
- Mercury = El Salvador \n
Pluto is about the size of the Cape Verde Islands, while other plutons such as Charon (Martinique) and Ceres (Netherlands Antilles) also can be linked to small, tropical island paradises. Who needs to be big when you have beaches and sunshine? The actual planet – I mean, pluton – of Pluto, by the way, is so small that all of its 16,7 million sq. km of surface would fit inside Russia.\n
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