from the world's big
Maps of Countries that Look Like Other Countries
Wyoming and Colorado are not the only cartographic twins
History and geography conspire to produce political boundaries at random. Each international border is the answer to a question that is contingent to a certain place and time, and irrelevant anywhere (or anytime) else.
Yet out of the chaos of chance comes the order of reality. For even though the options are theoretically limitless, the results are not: there are no Mickey Mouse-shaped countries – I rest my case. In fact, the forms and shapes of states can be classified in less than half a dozen morphologies (see #595, It's Always Chile in Norway).
That's not where the convergence ends. Certain political entities are so similar in shape that they look like each other's double – like the Chad Smith and Will Ferrell of cartography. We noted this before (#659, Liege, Belgium's Vanishing Twin), and were subsequently sent a few suggestions for other 'country doubles'.
Reader J Banana (possibly a nom de web) points out that the Irish county of Monaghan bears more than a passing resemblance to Iraq. The source he links to (this article at Cynical Stuff) even mentions that the similarity even caused a bit of a kerfuffle at the 2003 St. Patrick's Day parade in New York:
The New York Monaghan Association has issued a strong statement of support for the US military campaign against Iraq. This is despite being unable to carry their usual banner in the New York St Patricks Day Parade because of similarities between an outline map of Monaghan and Iraq.
“It came as quite a surprise to us that Monaghan and Iraq had basically the same outline shape. We had been receiving some jeers and comments as we assembled for the parade in New York and we couldn’t understand why. Until someone from the Louth Association pointed out the similarity. So for the sake of being able to walk 5th Avenue in peace, we had to carry a simple blue and white banner instead or our ornate traditional banner.”
Unfortunately, the story proved to be a hoax. But the resemblance is unmistakable.
Ireland's bucolic county Monaghan...
And the war-torn country of Iraq. Or was it the other way around?
Which means that, to the 'south' of the mini-Portugal that is the Algarve, is another Algarve, which contains another mini-Portugal, which in turn...
Portugal, with the Algarve marked in red.
The Algarve, Portugal's miniature (and mirror).
Erik Smit notices a strange case of insular mimicry in the Indonesian archipelago: “[What's] eerie is how Sulawesi is mimicked by a lesser island to the east of it, Halmahera. Sulawesi has a very distinctive shape, and Halmahera looks like a baby version of it with the same four tentacles. There is a geological reason for that, by the way, but still it looks impossible to have two funny-shaped island that are that similar in shape”.
Mr. Smit does not reveal the geological reason for the similarity. Any suggestions?
Sulawesi (a.k.a. Celebes).
Halmahera, Sulawesi's double.
Lastly, but not leastly, Harry Hook has not only spotted a few similarities, but overlaid the maps to prove his points.
Not only are Montenegro and Kosovo both former parts of Yugoslavia and direct neighbours, they also share a more than passing resemblance – a tilted, rough-edged square balancing, flamingo-like, on a southern protrusion.
Mr. Hook even spotted a geopolitical triplet, separated at birth: Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Barbados all vaguely look like triangles, with a broad base in the south, tapering into a northern tip.
But the real shocker – tongue firmly in cheek – is the overlay of Wyoming and Colorado, perhaps cartography's only identical twin. Mr. Hook includes a few Wows, perhaps in reference to that more famous, but equally inconsequential 'discovery'.
“Just glanging at my globe just now made me see another one: Mali and Niger”, Mr. Hook continues. “But you could probably include Zambia in that one too...”
Ladies and gentlemen, to your atlases!
Update 24 May 2018:
Reader Ari Shagal found "a remarkable pair of geographic 'twins' - Tanzania and Wisconsin! While I am well aware of their significant difference in size, their shapes are eerily similar, a fact made all the more interesting due to the fact that most of their borders are formed by bodies of water".
Indeed - and looking for a map of both put together produces more than we bargained for: a map not just of the Tanzania-Wisconsin double act, but also showing three further geographic twins, separated at birth: Lake Michigan and Sweden, the Hawaiian island of Lanai and South Carolina, and California and British Columbia.
Strange Maps #675
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and best-selling author Charles Duhigg as he interviews Victoria Montgomery Brown, co-founder and CEO of Big Think, live at 1pm EDT today.
Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
Reaching beyond the stereotypes of meditation and embracing the science of mindfulness.
- There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to what mindfulness is and what meditation can do for those who practice it. In this video, professors, neuroscientists, psychologists, composers, authors, and a former Buddhist monk share their experiences, explain the science behind meditation, and discuss the benefits of learning to be in the moment.
- "Mindfulness allows us to shift our relationship to our experience," explains psychologist Daniel Goleman. The science shows that long-term meditators have higher levels of gamma waves in their brains even when they are not meditating. The effect of this altered response is yet unknown, though it shows that there are lasting cognitive effects.
- "I think we're looking at meditation as the next big public health revolution," says ABC News anchor Dan Harris. "Meditation is going to join the pantheon of no-brainers like exercise, brushing your teeth and taking the meds that your doctor prescribes to you." Closing out the video is a guided meditation experience led by author Damien Echols that can be practiced anywhere and repeated as many times as you'd like.
Just what every arachnophobe needed to hear.
- A new study suggests some spiders might lace their webs with neruotoxins similar to the ones in their venom.
- The toxins were shown to be effective at paralyzing insects injected with them.
- Previous studies showed that other spiders lace their webs with chemicals that repel large insects.