23 - Beyond the pale
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.
Beyond the pale is an English expression for anything beyond the limits of the law or of accepted morality. The aforementioned ‘pale’, far from being a symbolic separator, at one time was a very real barrier: it separated the area of Ireland under English control from the (larger) part of the country where fierce Celts still held sway unopposed.
This Pale – also known as the English Pale – existed in the 14th and 15th centuries, and came to signify the entire area covered (a region with a radius of about 35 kilometres) rather than the barrier itself. The barrier consisted of a fortified ditch and a rampart, behind which the Anglo-Irish were constantly fearful of Gaelic incursions. One is reminded instictively of the Green Zone in Baghdad, or the separation wall in Israel… I found a nice map of the English Pale (with the 4 traditional provinces of Ireland) here\n
Other Pales at some point included the region around Calais, when that city in the North of France was held by the English; and the Pale of Settlement in the western part of Tsarist Russia – the only part of the Empire the Jews were allowed to settle their shtetls in.\n
Scientists have developed new ways of understanding how the biological forces of death drive important life processes.
- Researchers have found new ways on how decomposing plants and animals contribute to the life cycle.
- After a freak mass herd death of 300 reindeer, scientists were able to study a wide range of the decomposition processes.
- Promoting the necrobiome research will open up new areas of inquiry and even commerce.
What do we see from watching birds move across the country?
- A total of eight billion birds migrate across the U.S. in the fall.
- The birds who migrate to the tropics fair better than the birds who winter in the U.S.
- Conservationists can arguably use these numbers to encourage the development of better habitats in the U.S., especially if temperatures begin to vary in the south.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.