461 - There Goes the Neighbourhood: Europe, Rejigged
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.
- The hollow sound of the United Kingdom’s empty coffers should earn it a one-way ticket to the Mediterranean, not for rest and relaxation but to contemplate its fiscal imprudence with PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain), other EU members with dangerously wobbly public finances. \n
- Since the UK is broke anyway, why not break it even further? Wales and Scotland might not have such a hard time fending for themselves if they could attract the vacationers of northern Europe to their now-sunkist beaches. \n
- Poland gets towed over to the UK’s erstwhile location, between Ireland and the Low Countries. A well-earned compensation for the unpleasantness visited upon the Poles by their former neighbours, the Germans and the Russians. \n
- Belgium and the Czech Republic swap places, with the Belgians sidelined to Eastern Europe as punishment for their linguistic quarrels, the Czechs promoted to the heart of Europe for their hard work and well-organisedness. \n
- Belarus is moved north to the Baltic to give it a snowball’s chance to escape the bear-hug of its Russian neighbour, while the Baltic troika itself flies off towards Ireland. Kaliningrad, that delightfully anomalous Prussian/Russian exclave, would move east to be absorbed by the Russian Motherland. \n
- Ukraine would also move north and west, as would Russia itself, "thus vacating Siberia for the Chinese, who will take it sooner or later anyway," The Economist states, ominously. \n
- In the southern Balkans, The Economist suggests that Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo rotate places, to end Greek fears of Macedonian irredentism. \n
- Switzerland, neutral like Finland and Sweden, non-EU like Norway, and quietly affluent like all Scandinavian countries, should move north, for example to a place in between Norway and Sweden. \n
- Austria’s move to fill the Swiss void makes room for Slovenia and Croatia to hike in a north-westerly direction. \n
- Southern Italy breaks off from (or is ejected by) northern Italy – its new nickname, Bordello, gives a good idea of the amount of industriousness The Economist associates with this region of Italy. \n
- The Economist is rather more romantic than its rather dry moniker projects. The European reshuffle creates space for some of Europe’s most intriguing states: Syldavia and Borduria (created by Hergé for his Tintin cartoons), Vulgaria (location for the children’s movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and Ruritania (the setting for Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda). \n
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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