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.
On June 3, almost 9 months after the first post on September 10 last year, the hit counter on strangemaps went up to 1 million. Today, a bit over a month after the first million, the counter hit 2 million. At this rate of acceleration, strangemaps will hit its third million within a week. And will be up to a gazillion come September 10 this year.
Well, maybe not.
The map comparing US states to countries with similar GDPs (#131) was a gigantic crowd-puller, garnering a little over 160.000 hits in just one day, June 12. The speed with which the second million swung around is in large part due to the attention that map generated. To see a few thought-provoking spin-offs of the map and read some interesting background on its origin, please go to the follow-up post (#135).
I don’t know whether a similar big hit will come around. In any case, I’m not looking for one. I’ll keep doing what I did – look for ‘strange maps’: maps that are ‘different’, tell a story, probably aren’t in any atlas and are nice to look at to boot. The search for those maps has become easier by the hundreds of suggestions that have flooded in via the strangemaps e-mail address (in the sidebar). I’m thankful for all those mails, but please understand I won’t be able to post each and every suggested map.
This might also be a good moment to answer the most frequently asked question: Is there an RSS feed for this blog? Even though I don’t quite know what an RSS feed is, I can tell you that yes, there is one: strangemaps.wordpress.com/feed should do it. And maybe one day soon I’ll figure out how to put that address in the sidebar.
I’m also in the process of categorising the 140-odd map entries so far, which should make for some interesting sub-collections… Please browse the categories and let me know what you think.
That’s it. Thanks for watching!
It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.
- Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
- These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
- The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.
- Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
- Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
- Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
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