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Upside Down or Downside Up, this World Map Looks True in Both Directions
A bizarre 'planisphere palindrome' version of the Earth
This is a map that takes some time to get your head around; quite literally, because to appreciate it fully, you need to consider it both with its north side and its south side up .
To spare you the risk of neck injury, we're providing both versions: first with north on top, then south. And what do you know? There is no right side up -- or rather: there is no wrong side up. For this is a planisphere  palindrome, a planet-chart that can be 'read' the same way 'upside up' and upside down.
This is very strange. The size and distribution of the world's continents and oceans is random, the result of millions of years of continental drift. That process is still ongoing : the way the world looks like on our maps is but a snapshot, even if it feels like an eternity from our human perspective.
It would seem impossible to find a pattern with global consistency in that random jumble of land masses and water bodies. A map showing the overlap of antipodean dry lands  doesn't seem to indicate any, at least. But the Italian artist Giacomo Faiella did find such a pattern.
In the 'upside up' version, the continents are a solid, walkable blue, the seas are a foamy yellow-white, and the north pole the frozen colour of ice. The map is centred on China, with Europe and Africa pushed to its western edge, and the Americas near its eastern rim.
Colour codes are relative, as shown by our immediate re-interpretation of them in the 'downside up' version. Here, the continents are the different hues of grass, from green to dry; the ocean is navy blue and it's the South Pole that is frozen, while the North Pole has reverted to open water. In this map, the longitudes of Europe and Africa retain retain the centrality that they are traditionally accorded in Western cartography, while East Asia and the Americas are pushed to the edges.
It's fascinating to see how Mr. Faiella has managed, with some cajoling of geographic veracity, to find correspondences between features on the opposite sides of the world.
The Mediterranean Sea in the 'up' version is Australia in the 'down' one (and vice versa, of course). That little fleck to the south of Australia that represents Tasmania? That's the Adriatic Sea in the other map, between Italy and the former Yugoslav states.
The Black and Caspian Seas to the Mediterranean's east transform into the main western islands of the Indonesian archipelago: Java and Sumatra, respectively. The Red Sea becomes the Philippines, the Persian Gulf the Thai-Malay Peninsula. India, that triangle pointing south, transmogrifies into the adjacent Bay of Bengal, a triangle pointing north.
Fantastically, miraculously, South America becomes the North Atlantic ocean, and the North America continent changes into the South Atlantic. Two dots vaguely reminiscent of the Great Lakes become the (much smaller) Falkland Islands .
The two islands of New Zealand transform into the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, with the Cook Strait between both islands becoming the Jutland  peninsula of Denmark. The Japanese archipelago corresponds with a string of Africa's Great Lakes, while Madagascar has a ghostly pendant in the Sea of Okhotsk.
And on it goes -- we'll leave you to work out the other correspondences. Like we said, some geographic cajoling has taken place. Australia and New Zealand are nowhere near as close to South America; nor are North America and northern Europe attached to Greenland. You have to squint a little, but this works as a world map. It's incredible that it works as two world maps.
Many thanks to Mr. Faiella for sending in this map. Find out more on his map-based art at his Pataphysical Atlas.
Strange Maps #594
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Modern maps are usually oriented towards the north, in the tradition of Ptolemy's Geographia. However, for sacral reasons, maps in the Middle Ages often had east 'up' - hence our word 'orientation'.
 Planisphere describes the representation of a globe on a flat surface - i.e. a world map; but also the parking disk-like instrument made up of two adjustable disks rotating on a pivot, used to calculate which stars and constellations are visible in the night sky at any particular time.
 It's no coincidence that the eastern shoreline of South America 'fits' with that of western Africa's: both land masses once were part of Pangaea, the single supercontinent that broke up about 200 million years ago. The Atlantic Ocean continues to widen at an annual rate of 25 millimetres (about an inch) -- about the rate your fingernails grow. Back in 1968, an Air France commercial dreamed of the time when it was still no wider than a river. See #474.
 See #104.
 or las Malvinas. A bit more on Anglo-Argentinian animosity in the Antarctic and its periphery in #591.
 Where does Jutland begin, and where does it end? See #46.
The idea of 'absolute time' is an illusion. Physics and subjective experience reveal why.
- Since Einstein posited his theory of general relativity, we've understood that gravity has the power to warp space and time.
- This "time dilation" effect occurs even at small levels.
- Outside of physics, we experience distortions in how we perceive time — sometimes to a startling extent.
Physics without time<p>In his book "The Order of Time," Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli suggests that our perception of time — our sense that time is forever flowing forward — could be a highly subjective projection. After all, when you look at reality on the smallest scale (using equations of quantum gravity, at least), time vanishes.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If I observe the microscopic state of things," writes Rovelli, "then the difference between past and future vanishes … in the elementary grammar of things, there is no distinction between 'cause' and 'effect.'"</p><p>So, why do we perceive time as flowing <em>forward</em>? Rovelli notes that, although time disappears on extremely small scales, we still obviously perceive events occur sequentially in reality. In other words, we observe entropy: Order changing into disorder; an egg cracking and getting scrambled.</p><p>Rovelli says key aspects of time are described by the second law of thermodynamics, which states that heat always passes from hot to cold. This is a one-way street. For example, an ice cube melts into a hot cup of tea, never the reverse. Rovelli suggests a similar phenomenon might explain why we're only able to perceive the past and not the future.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Any time the future is definitely distinguishable from the past, there is something like heat involved," Rovelli wrote for the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/ce6ef7b8-429a-11e8-93cf-67ac3a6482fd" target="_blank"><em>Financial Times</em></a>. "Thermodynamics traces the direction of time to something called the 'low entropy of the past', a still mysterious phenomenon on which discussions rage."</p>
The strange subjectivity of time<p>Time moves differently atop a mountain than it does on a beach. But you don't need to travel any distance at all to experience strange distortions in your perception of time. In moments of life-or-death fear, for example, your brain would release large amounts of adrenaline, which would speed up your internal clock, causing you to perceive the outside world as moving slowly.<br></p><p>Another common distortion occurs when we focus our attention in particular ways.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If you're thinking about how time is <em>currently</em> passing by, the biggest factor influencing your time perception is attention," Aaron Sackett, associate professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas, told <em><a href="https://gizmodo.com/why-does-time-slow-down-and-speed-up-1840133782" target="_blank">Gizmodo</a></em>.<em> "</em>The more attention you give to the passage of time, the slower it tends to go. As you become distracted from time's passing—perhaps by something interesting happening nearby, or a good daydreaming session—you're more likely to lose track of time, giving you the feeling that it's slipping by more quickly than before. "Time flies when you're having fun," they say, but really, it's more like "time flies when you're thinking about other things." That's why time will also often fly by when you're definitely <em>not</em> having fun—like when you're having a heated argument or are terrified about an upcoming presentation."</p><p>One of the most mysterious ways people experience time-perception distortions is through psychedelic drugs. In an interview with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/14/carlo-rovelli-exploding-commonsense-notions-order-of-time-interview" target="_blank"><em>The Guardian</em></a>, Rovelli described a time he experimented with LSD.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It was an extraordinarily strong experience that touched me also intellectually," he said. "Among the strange phenomena was the sense of time stopping. Things were happening in my mind but the clock was not going ahead; the flow of time was not passing any more. It was a total subversion of the structure of reality."<br></p><p>It seems few scientists or philosophers believe time is completely an illusion.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"What we call <em>time</em> is a rich, stratified concept; it has many layers," Rovelli told <em><a href="https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.4.20190219a/full/" target="_blank">Physics Today</a>.</em> "Some of time's layers apply only at limited scales within limited domains. This does not make them illusions."</p>What <em>is</em> an illusion is the idea that time flows at an absolute rate. The river of time might be flowing forever forward, but it moves at different speeds, between people, and even within your own mind.
The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.
- Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
- That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
- Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
- Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
- Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.
- One especially mysterious thing about the asteroid impact, which killed the dinosaurs, is how it transformed Earth's tropical rainforests.
- A recent study analyzed ancient fossils collected in modern-day Colombia to determine how tropical rainforests changed after the bolide impact.
- The results highlight how nature is able to recover from cataclysmic events, though it may take millions of years.