A new study provides a possible scientific explanation for the existence of stories about ancient saints performing miracles with water.
An artificial island in the North Sea is the biggest building project ever in Danish history - and could pave the way for many more.
- In 1991, Denmark constructed the world's first offshore wind farm.
- Now they're building an entire 'Energy Island' in the North Sea.
- As the U.S. catches up, Danish know-how could soon come to America.
Giant wind farms<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg5MzcwNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3NDM4NTA5NH0.Hlx9URQeIeXWgoqLDPoaKyQHdF37m-FJo-8Owqa24LQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="c5d0b" width="1024" height="707" data-rm-shortcode-id="34e08b6ea50064397feadeb3dbe89872" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Wind turbines, of the Block Island Wind Farm, tower above the water on October 14, 2016 off the shores of Block Island, Rhode Island. The first offshore wind project in the US has created more than 300 construction jobs and will deliver the electricity demands for the entire island. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images)" />
Wind turbines of the Block Island Wind Farm, so far the only offshore wind project in operation in the U.S.
Credit: Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images<p><span>On Monday, President Biden <a href="https://www.npr.org/2021/03/29/982285907/biden-adm..." target="_blank">designated a 'Wind Energy Area'</a> in the waters between Long Island and New Jersey. It's part of an ambitious plan to build giant wind farms along the East Coast. There's currently only one offshore wind farm in the Eastern U.S., off Rhode Island (1).</span></p><p><span></span><span>When those wind farms get built, you can bet there'll be Danish companies involved. In 1991, Denmark built Vindeby, the world's first offshore wind farm. In the years since, Danish companies have maintained their global lead.</span></p><p>In February, the Danish government announced it would build the world's first 'Energy Island'. Everybody else in the world, take note: if the Danes pull this off, similar islands could soon pop up off your shores – perhaps also in the New York Bight.</p><p>So, what's an Energy Island, and why does Denmark want one? For the answer, we spool back to June 2020, when a broad coalition of Danish parties, left and right, in government and opposition, concluded a Climate Agreement. This is Denmark's plan not only to make a radical break with fossil fuels but also to show the rest of the world how it's done. <br></p>
On the rise again<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg5MzcyMy9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3Mzk0NDk1NX0.Eo0MJXW29jN09SWlZ6OUv3OFUa4VDVSr5P1xoLF_uQ4/img.png?width=980" id="8a190" width="2000" height="1400" data-rm-shortcode-id="36416a231d671bb9914068b59239c647" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Close-up of Energy Island, with two of the seawalls at the back and the port at the front.
Credit: Danish Energy Agency<p>Due in large part to its pioneering work with wind energy, Denmark has a green image. But that hasn't always reflected reality. Yes, in 2019 the country generated 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources – earning it 9th place worldwide (2). But in 2018, Denmark also was the EU's leading oil producer (3).</p><p>Under the Climate Agreement, that will stop. Denmark will no longer explore and develop new oil and gas fields in its section of the North Sea. Extraction will be gradually reduced to zero. In exchange, Denmark will dramatically scale up the production of sustainable energy via offshore wind farms. The ultimate goal: nationwide carbon neutrality by 2050.</p><p>Offshore wind farms produce the bulk of Europe's sustainable energy. And after a dip in the first decade of the century, offshore wind farms are on the rise again (4). One reason for the increased popularity: taller turbines, which means larger blades, which means greater capacity.</p><ul><li>In 2016, the tallest turbines were 540 ft (164 m) and had a capacity of 8 megawatts (MW).</li><li>In 2021, turbines can be up to 720 ft (220 m) tall, generating up to 12 MW. </li><li>Soon, the turbines will reach 820 ft (250 m) – not that much shorter than the Eiffel Tower (1,030 ft or 314 m, street to flagpole). These will have a capacity of up to 20 MW.</li></ul>
Centralised management<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg5MzcyOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMTQ0MTA1MH0.rY18UEI8iIfIqcmlfnvYs-UuWX62Nf_1YS-UWmLWcvQ/img.png?width=980" id="9f0ef" width="1804" height="1203" data-rm-shortcode-id="e393ecb4f3b5c521fc1fd133a37b383f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Potential position of Energy Island (red) off the western coast of Jutland, surrounded by a wind farm (green) filled with turbines (blue dots).
Credit: Danish Energy Agency<p>As the shallow parts of the North Sea (<66 ft; <20 m) fill up with wind farms, the issue of managing the energy flow produced by these farms becomes acute. The obvious solution would be to build a central point where the energy is collected, converted from AC to DC and transmitted to one or more points onshore. Centralised management of the wind farms would mitigate the fluctuations in energy production and make it easier for supply to meet demand.</p><p>If supply is greater than demand, these collection points can also serve as storage units. Excess energy could be stored in batteries or transformed into hydrogen via electrolysis. If and when necessary, the hydrogen can then be transported onto land and reconverted into electricity.</p><p>The Dutch are thinking about it, and some have suggested the Dogger Bank as an ideal location: shallow and central within the North Sea, ideally placed to distribute energy to the various countries bordering the sea. But the Danes are doing it. The Climate Agreement envisaged not one, but two energy islands.</p><p>One would be Bornholm, Denmark's Baltic island, halfway between Sweden and Poland, which would serve as the hub for local offshore wind farms. But the other would be an entirely new, entirely artificial island in the North Sea, to be built about 50 miles (80 km) off Thorsminde, on the western coast of Jutland.</p>
10 million households<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg5MzczMy9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2Nzc2NTI0Nn0.q2yEFX_pOSzgOqjTZtUnMz5_dNBpo9xkTvW0p7DnuwU/img.png?width=980" id="9efca" width="2685" height="1434" data-rm-shortcode-id="463708ba9cffa1294b32dca8060754ff" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Schematic overview of how an Energy Island could serve as a hub for collecting and redistributing sustainable energy.
Credit: Danish Energy Agency<p>In February, the Danish government revealed how much this <em>Energi-Ø</em> would cost, how long it would take to build – and what it might look like.</p><ul><li>Energy Island will be built via the caisson method – essentially, sinking a watertight box to the bottom of the sea. The island will be protected from storms by high seawalls on three sides. The fourth side will feature a dock for ships.</li><li>Construction could start in 2026 and is expected to take three years. Building the wind farms and transmission network will take a few years more. By 2033, it could be churning out its sustainable GWs.</li><li>In its initial phase, the island will have an area of about 12 hectares (30 acres, or about 18 soccer fields). It will centralize the production of about 200 offshore wind turbines, with a joint capacity of 3 GW. That's about the equivalent of 3 million households – slightly more than the total for Denmark. </li><li>When fully completed, the island will have an area of around 46 hectares (114 acres, just under 70 soccer fields), collect the energy of 600 turbines, for a total capacity of 10 GW (5). That covers 10 million households.</li><li>10 GW is equivalent to about 150 percent of Denmark's entire electricity needs (households, industry, infrastructure, etc.) That leaves plenty of scope for supplying neighbouring countries. Agreements have already been reached with Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.</li></ul><p>The plan also foresees a plant for hydrogen production on the island, either to be piped onshore, or stored and transported in large batteries. <br></p>
Yet untested aspects<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg5MzczNy9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMTM1MjgzM30.oNsasFWQWuTIToXy2SUq348EAsVZhV9GpLTEKqsGdGE/img.png?width=980" id="09288" width="1520" height="851" data-rm-shortcode-id="28c0675ce4ada413ce7e212ad02ee48c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Location of Energy Island (yellow) in the North Sea, showing potential connections towards neighboring countries.
Credit: Danish Climate Ministry / Vimeo<p>In all, the island would cost DKK 210 billion (US$33 billion) to build – by far Denmark's largest construction project (6).<br/><br/>The project will be undertaken in a public-private partnership between the Danish state and commercial interests. Because it is 'critical infrastructure', the state will retain a stake of at least 50.1 percent in the project. There are two scenarios for co-ownership:</p><ul><li>The island will be owned in its entirety by a company, in which the Danish state retains at least that smallest of majorities;</li><li>Private companies will be able to own up to 49.9 percent of the island itself.</li></ul><p>The Danish government needs private-sector input to overcome unknown and as yet untested aspects of the project, not just in terms of design and building an entire island from scratch, but also on how to operate and maintain it, and even when it comes to financing and risk management. </p><p>But where there's risk, there is potential. If the project is successful, it will become the blueprint for similar energy islands the world over – and the companies that helped build the first one, will be in high demand to build the other ones too, perhaps soon in Biden's 'Wind Energy Area'.</p><p>Green, as the Danes have discovered, is not just the color of nature. It's also the color of money.</p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1077</strong><br/><br/></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em></p><p><em><em>Follow Strange Maps on <a href="https://twitter.com/FrankJacobs" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/VeryStrangeMaps" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></em></p><p><br/>(1) Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind, a two-turbine pilot project 23 miles (43 km) off Virginia Beach, was completed last year.</p><p>(2) <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/renewable-energy" target="_blank">The Top 10 (2019) are</a> Iceland (79%), Norway (66%), Brazil (45%), Sweden (42%), New Zealand (35%), Austria (38%), Switzerland (31%), Ecuador (30%), Denmark (30%) and Canada (28%). </p><p><a href="https://ourworldindata.org/renewable-energy" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a>(3) With 5.8 megatons of oil equivalent (Mtoe), Denmark beat Italy (4.7 Mtoe) and Romania (3.4 Mtoe). Oil production in the EU is on the way down. It peaked in 2004 (42.5 Mtoe) and has since halved (to 21.4 Mtoe in 2018). A similar trend has occurred in the two key non-EU oil producers in Europe. a. Norway's oil production peaked in 2001 (159.2 Mtoe) and has since more than halved (to 74.5 Mtoe in 2018). b. The UK's oil production peaked in 1999 (133.3 Mtoe) and has since been reduced by almost two thirds (to 49.3 Mtoe in 2018). </p><p><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Oil_and_petroleum_products_-_a_statistical_overview" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a>(4) The Global Wind Energy Council estimates that in 2020, a record 82.3 gigawatt (GW) of new wind power capacity was added, a 36% increase over 2019.</p><p>(5) The Bornholm energy hub is projected to top out at 2 GW.<br/></p><p>(6) Inaugurated in 2000, the famous Øresund Bridge (Øresundsbroen), connecting Sweden to Denmark, cost about DKK 25 billion (US$4 billion) in today's money. When it's finished (by 2029, if work continues apace), the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link (18 km) between the Danish island of Lolland and the German island of Fehmarn, will be the world's longest road/rail tunnel. It will have cost about DKK 55 billion (US$ 8.7 billion).</p>
James Gillray's 'plumb-pudding' caricature is "probably the most famous political cartoon of all time."
- The fight for world dominance always seems to involve a contest between two superpowers.
- Back in 1805, it was the British versus the French, and this cartoon pokes fun at both.
- Pitt and Napoleon are carving out the big slices of the world-pudding – an image endlessly copied since.
The Great Game<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg3NzYxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMDE1OTQ5MH0.XN0uiL-BZlD1ToGIy5SMRk82-VgFos7-b4e6Bza76Bc/img.jpg?width=980" id="7e64e" width="2000" height="1434" data-rm-shortcode-id="36ea60bb60930b54eeae32bf1c5c776c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Napoleon Bonaparte's camp at Boulogne, France, preparatory for the planned invasion of England, 15th August 1804. by Beyer after Raffet. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)" />
August 1804: Napoleon addresses the Grande Armée in Boulogne-sur-Mer, preparing to invade England.
Credit Hulton Archive/Getty Images<p>The Great Game remains the same: how to gobble up most of the world, or at least more of it than your opponent can swallow. It's just the players that change. In our times, the two top dogs are the United States and China. During the Cold War, it was the U.S. versus the Soviet Union. And in 1805, the year this cartoon was published, the main contenders were the British and the French.</p><p><span></span>Across the top, the title reads: <em>The Plumb-pudding in danger: - or – State Epicures taking un Petit Souper</em>. The pudding is of course the earth itself, steaming on a plate between the two 'state epicures'. Seated opposite each other and armed with an oversized knife and fork each, they are carving into the pudding, eager to indulge their insatiable geopolitical appetite.</p><p><span></span>On the left, we have William Pitt the Younger, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. On the right: Napoleon Bonaparte. No longer content to be called First Consul of France, Napoleon had only recently crowned himself Emperor. Both are wearing their 'work clothes', i.e. military uniforms. Pitt is dressed in the red coat typical for the British army of the time. Napoleon is wearing the blue coat of the Imperial French Army.</p><p>And it's not just by these primary colours that the artist underlines their opposition. Pitt's hat is a tricorn, Napoleon's a bicorn (festooned with a cockerel-like plume in the French tricolor). And, perhaps most obviously, Pitt is tall and spindly, his French counterpart–true to the caricature already current at the time–short and stocky.</p><p>What they're doing to that poor pudding between them is also rich in symbolism. Clearly visible at the center of the globe are the British Isles – obviously, the most important part of the globe, at least to the cartoon's British audience. <br></p>
Invade or reconcile<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg3NzU5Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY4MDcyNDE1NX0.Tckp_wDhXxJ_G7_Kw9nUkE8rPsjczo9E12U6W08Xaw4/img.jpg?width=980" id="69e0c" width="3970" height="2842" data-rm-shortcode-id="d0c7cfe90f4099f4429d3e65cf576d19" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
William Pitt the Younger and Napoleon, dividing up the world amongst themselves.
Credit: Public domain, via the British Library<p>Both Pitt and Napoleon are using a carving knife and fork to cut slices off the pudding. Pitt's fork is a trident, reminiscent of British sea power; Napoleon's knife resembles a sword, perhaps referring to French supremacy on land. Pitt is slicing off a big chunk of the ocean, while Napoleon is helping himself to continental Europe.</p><p><span></span>Napoleon's fork is sticking into a part of Europe labeled 'Hanover' – no doubt a reminder to the British audience that the French now occupied the ancestral home of the Hanoverian dynasty sitting on the British throne. Perhaps also to please his audience, the cartoonist shows Napoleon's piece as significantly smaller than Pitt's.</p><p><span></span>Pitt and Napoleon each have a golden plate in front of them to put their slice of the world on. Pitt's is emblazoned with the British Royal Coat of Arms, Napoleon's with the Imperial Crown. Pitt's chair shows a lion carrying the Cross of St George, the emblem of England. Napoleon's chair has an imperial eagle holding on to a Phrygian cap, the bonnet that came to symbolize the French revolution.</p><p>So, what's going on? The publication date, February 1805, marks a curious lull in the Napoleonic Wars (1803-15). A few months earlier, Napoleon had amassed a potential force for invading Britain in Boulogne-sur-Mer. But now he was making overtures for reconciliation with his enemy across the English Channel. <br></p>
Spheres of influence<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg3NzU5OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NzM5MTk0Nn0.Fntcyp0TGr0MurjTE-cU7fPsVJFWX1fkDH5VczoeynE/img.jpg?width=980" id="6130e" width="1008" height="723" data-rm-shortcode-id="cc84991ac21f5cf85004a65afcdeb7d2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
'Jack Tar' – the nickname for a British sailor – slugging it out with 'Buonaparte', back in 1798.
Credit: Public domain, via the National Museums Greenwich.<p>As the cartoon suggested, peace with Britain would entail both parties establishing a sphere of influence: for Britain, the seas and its colonies (the map shows the West Indies but not Britain's recently lost North American possessions); for France, the European mainland. </p><p>As it turned out, both the invasion and the reconciliation fell through. Later that same year, Nelson would defeat a Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar, establishing Britain's maritime dominance without having had to resort to political compromise with France.</p><p>For a while at least, Napoleon would continue his victorious streak on the mainland – meaning the cartoon was a prediction that came true. But in the end, Napoleon would be defeated – not once, but twice; at Waterloo in 1815 for the final time (see also #<a href="https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/napoleon-cannibal-majesty" target="_blank">1050</a>).</p><p><span></span>Sold in hand-colored prints, this is likely the most famous work by James Gillray (1756-1815), one of two contenders for the title of Britain's most influential caricaturist – the other being William Hogarth. Martin Rowson, cartoonist for the Guardian, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_cartoon#/media/File:Caricature_gillray_plumpudding.jpg" target="_blank">calls it</a> "probably the most famous political cartoon of all time."</p><p>Interestingly, it's a thematic elaboration of one of Gillray's earlier cartoons. In 1789, he depicted 'Jack Tar' and Napoleon sitting astride the globe, with the British sailor punching the Frenchman a bloody nose. At that time, Napoleon must have been an unknown in Britain, because he is depicted as a scrawny, full-figured person, not the "little corporal" of later times.</p><p>Perhaps this cartoon is less popular than the later one because the world is explained not as a delicious 'plumb-pudding' but as a less appetising 'dunghill'.</p><p><br></p><p><em>Both maps in the public domain, the first one found </em><a href="https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/the-plumb-puddi..." target="_blank">here</a><em> at the </em><a href="https://www.bl.uk/" target="_blank">British Library</a><em>, the second </em><a href="https://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/..." target="_blank">here</a> <em>at the </em><a href="https://www.rmg.co.uk/" target="_blank">Royal Museums Greenwich</a><em>.</em><br></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1076</strong><br></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em></p><p><em></em><em><em>Follow Strange Maps on <a href="https://twitter.com/FrankJacobs" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/VeryStrangeMaps" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></em><br></p>
The European currency features buildings that didn't exist, until Spijkenisse made them in concrete
- The euro banknotes feature seven different bridges – all of them fictional.
- They represent periods instead of places, so as not to offend anyone.
- But one Dutch town has turned monetary fiction into monumental fact.
Wonderful subcategory<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg2NzE3Ni9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MDI0ODIxNX0.xCnmgv8Ust3ZrJkglWsA9b8xyvE0_8L6xLNL9fLOQLY/img.png?width=980" id="faa4e" width="1697" height="1019" data-rm-shortcode-id="5606b37f0da6cfeed52864fef23d144e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Go to the end of this street to find Heartbreak Hotel.
Credit: Google Street View<p>In topography, there's a wonderful subcategory of places that existed first in the imagination before they materialized on the map. Examples range in size from the New York landmark of <em>Agloe</em>, a tiny map trap that accidentally became real (see #<a href="https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/643-agloe-the-paper-town-stronger-than-fiction" target="_blank">643</a>) to the huge country of <em>Pakistan</em>, one man's dream turned into a home for millions (see #<a href="https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/647-purist-among-the-pure-the-forgotten-inventor-of-pakistan" target="_blank">647</a>).</p><p>For an example at the intersection of lyrical and whimsical, book a stay at <em>Heartbreak Hotel</em>. It's in Memphis, right across from Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion. The King of Rock 'n Roll had a hit with that title back in 1956. Today, as in the song, you'll find the hotel down at the end of <em>Lonely Street</em>. <br></p>
Brightly-colored bridges<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg2NzE4Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3NDUxNzQ2OX0.MozsLMxLfkaHE9hnal_uHkSkp_WdH-XQcqAw2FVM1NU/img.png?width=980" id="5a47f" width="1627" height="1243" data-rm-shortcode-id="005f95375654b439d4ca4a984e79b33f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The euro bridges were designed to be transnational – but now they're all Dutch.
Credit: Google Maps, ECB (Graphics: Ruland Kolen)<p>And then there's the otherwise unassuming Dutch town of Spijkenisse, where you can take a walk across seven brightly-colored bridges which until recently only existed on banknotes.</p><p>You might recognize those bridges. If you've ever handled euro notes, you'll have seen them on the reverse of each of the seven denominations. Those bridges, however, <em>are not real</em>. Unlike other currencies, which often double as patriotic pamphlets and/or tourist teasers, the euro notes do not feature real-life landmarks or real-dead Europeans.</p><p>That would have involved favoring some countries and leaving out others, and in a multinational endeavor like the pan-European currency, that was a definite no-no.</p><p>So, what to do? It's a problem that had to be solved relatively recently, as the euro is the youngest of the world's major currencies. The look of the euro notes can be traced back to a European Council meeting in Dublin on December 13, 1996, when the European Monetary Institute (the precursor of today's European Central Bank) announced the winner of its competition to design the euro notes. <br></p>
44 contenders<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg2NzE5NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzODU2ODM2Nn0.Luz8lUgmVKVhmINbq4Obez8UNfHMGIcMuDcKso4Cr58/img.jpg?width=980" id="fa7b9" width="4160" height="3120" data-rm-shortcode-id="035dae1bbc427c28285eb2266be1bee1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The five-euro bridge: Classical, and dirt-grey.
Credit: ScWikiSc, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>The prize went to Robert Kalina, a designer with the National Bank of Austria. His 'Ages and Styles of Europe' was chosen from among 44 contenders. Mr Kalina had some form in the matter. All Austrian banknotes from 1982 onwards were by his hand, as were notes he later designed for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, and Syria.</p><p><span></span>Mr Kalina's euro designs scrupulously avoided any allusion to particular people or places, referring merely to abstract, supra-national style periods. The obverse of each note shows a window and a doorway, symbolizing Europe's spirit of openness. Each reverse shows a bridge, exemplifying communication and cooperation, both between the countries of Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world.</p><p>The architectural style of each note progresses chronologically as the value of the denomination increases. Most also feature a color from the rainbow spectrum. <br></p>
The Elements<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg2NzIwMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyOTk4OTUxN30.htp--K1OCBp8xASxZ6w_ZrDIgCxuGvrq7umvKNsYpks/img.jpg?width=980" id="a8738" width="3410" height="3120" data-rm-shortcode-id="dc8f4541e78eb0ccc1bfc80d4237ccf6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The ten-euro bridge, Romanesque in style and red in color.
Credit: ScWikiSc, CC BY-SA 4.0<ul><li>€5: Classical (as this was to be the most widely used note, grey was chosen to mask the dirt)</li><li>€10: Romanesque (red)</li><li>€20: Gothic (blue)</li><li>€50: Renaissance (orange)</li><li>€100: Baroque and Rococo (green)</li><li>€200: 19th century Industrial (yellow)</li><li>€500: 20th century Modern (purple)</li></ul><span></span><p>These euro bridges would have remained fictional, were it not for Robin Stam. The Rotterdam-based artist got the idea of turning financial fiction into architectural fact in a pizza place, while fiddling with a euro note. "Suddenly it struck me how amazing it would be if these fictional bridges came to life," he said.</p><p>Mr Stam found a willing partner for his idea in the city council of Spijkenisse, his hometown, a suburb of Rotterdam. The plan was to build seven euro bridges across a canal that almost entirely surrounds an area called <em>De Elementen</em> ('The Elements'). <br></p>
Letter of approval<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg2NzIxNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTIwMzU2MH0.t2rEc1-fh3pjQInANyomqNYJwJ4uvcTefS8oOj6fTDc/img.jpg?width=980" id="b7fbe" width="4160" height="3120" data-rm-shortcode-id="309ff802d625d7b8af64d90f9d5ab3d2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Gothic blue: the twenty-euro bridge
Credit: ScWikiSc, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>But before he got started, Mr Stam felt he needed the blessing of the European Central Bank. The euro notes scrupulously avoid favoring one member state over the other, but Mr Stam's euro bridges would all be in one country – the Netherlands. Would the ECB mind? Mr Stam sent them a letter. But he needn't have feared: out of Frankfurt came a kind reply with an official letter of approval. "Their main concern is counterfeiting. And you can't pay with a bridge," says the artist.</p><p>And so, 'The Bridges of Europe' got underway. Funded by the city and aided by local contractors, all seven bridges were installed between October 2011 and September 2013. They all preserve the color and shape of the 'originals'. All were made of concrete except the two most recent styles (€200 and €500 notes), which were made out of steel. In all the project cost around €1 million to complete. <br></p>
"Kitschy facade"<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg2NzI0Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MDg3Njc5NX0.I-jDQ-capuU2tbsQFZffhQjL2BnaHE9lFRcCQdgd-CQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="9c863" width="4160" height="3120" data-rm-shortcode-id="114f4a3e85684e4775625d0a359ff698" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The fifty-euro bridge, in Renaissance orange.
Credit: ScWikiSc, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>However, the euro bridges of Spijkenisse are not as monumental as their depiction on the notes suggests. In fact, they're pedestrian in more than one sense. Mr Kalina, who first drew the fictional bridges, while amused by the project, has said he would have liked the bridges to be built in the style in which each was designed, instead of their appearance being used as a "kitschy façade." So, it's perhaps more appropriate to call them 'follies', but then many have said the same about the euro itself.</p><p><span></span>From 2013 onwards, a second series of euro notes was published. This 'Europa' series–named after the Greek goddess who is watermarked into the notes–is a redesign by the German banknote designer Reinhold Gerstetter, who wanted the notes to be "more colorful, so they would appear friendlier". </p>
Useful to criminals<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg2NzI3OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDc2NjI3Nn0.ayivHSy-QR14sW9xVQp2GUdJiVqq65RlfeG5ldHUDaY/img.jpg?width=980" id="28d36" width="4160" height="3120" data-rm-shortcode-id="14a60641e46c05cc61ff24aa38c6b8fc" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
If it's Baroque/Rococo and green, it must be the one-hundred-euro bridge.
Credit: ScWikiSc, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>The basic design of the first series, including the colors and bridges, has been maintained, with one notable exception. The Europa series no longer features a €500 note, out of concern that it appeared to be more useful to criminals than to law-abiding citizens.<br></p><p><span></span>The reason is its exceptionally high value. True, Switzerland has a 1,000-franc note (app. € 900, or US$ 1,075), but the euro is the only major currency to have a note this valuable. Compare the US dollar, which has the $100 bill as its highest denomination.</p><p>Because it is so valuable and was so relatively widespread, the €500 bill is ideal for transferring large amounts of money in a compact volume of notes. Turns out that quality was greatly appreciated by money launderers, drug smugglers, and tax dodgers.<br></p>
'Bin Ladens'<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTg2NzI1My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzkwNTM5MH0.U3a46zNDsbvvopue8ebjn64W2jexO4Tyfk6TD1wrTpA/img.jpg?width=980" id="82bb1" width="4160" height="3120" data-rm-shortcode-id="e9267e65de995bdf7f1942a91cdb7c4b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Industrial and yellow – the two-hundred-euro bridge
Credit: ScWikiSc, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>The notes soon acquired the nickname 'Bin Ladens' because, despite their notoriety, they were rarely seen in public. One examination by the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency noted 90% of the €500 bills distributed in the U.K. were in the hands of criminal organisations, who liked the note because it made it easier to launder money (the highest British denomination is £50). For that reason, the U.K. <em>Bureaux de Change</em> stopped trading €500 notes in 2010.</p><p>Old €500 notes will remain legal tender forever, as will other notes from the first series; but they will gradually be taken out of circulation. Spijkenisse for its part has as yet no plans to demolish the €500 bridge.</p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1075</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em><br></p><p><em><em>Follow Strange Maps on <a href="https://twitter.com/FrankJacobs" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Twitter</a> and on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/VeryStrangeMaps" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>.</em></em></p>
Purple and modern, like the 'Bin Laden' note beloved by criminals: the five-hundred-euro bridge.
Credit: ScWikiSc, CC BY-SA 4.0
Topologists can't tell donuts from coffee mugs, but their maps are revelatory nonetheless.
Rubber-sheet geometry<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTgyMTY1NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzc1MzYxNX0.chpWmzp20_Xi834RQomF61LJxQB00PCa_mOny_HvhZI/img.jpg?width=980" id="4cb2f" width="700" height="702" data-rm-shortcode-id="35d312d4f0b49d7e1c8f24b2c3f2e898" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Euler's seven-bridge problem: the origin point for topology, and now also a board game.
Credit: Puzzling Pixel Games<p>Here's an ology you might not have heard of, despite its deceptively familiar-sounding name: <em>topology</em>. And if you have, well done you. But even then, you've probably never considered its cartographic implications. </p><p>Topology is the mathematical study of the properties that objects preserve even as they are deformed, twisted and stretched – but not broken or glued together. Because of all that twisting and stretching, topology is also often called 'rubber-sheet geometry'.</p><p>For example, since a circle can be stretched to an ellipse, this means that both objects are topologically equivalent. The same applies in three-dimensional space: a sphere can be stretched into an ellipsoid, so both are topologically equivalent.</p><p>To clarify further, a counterexample: a figure 8 cannot be deformed into a circle without 'breaking' it, so both objects are not topologically equivalent.</p><p>The theoretical malleability from one object to another that topology presupposes is at the basis of the first topology joke you've ever heard, and the last one you'll ever need.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Q: What is a topologist? </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">A: Someone who can't distinguish between a donut and a coffee mug.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>(tumbleweeds)</em></p>
Spacetime topology<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTgyMTY1OS9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTY2NDU3Mn0.a42iLPMK6ZwiYStSwUSCD9aF-xAMNVWzJnIEwJ9C6hw/img.gif?width=980" id="62bd7" width="240" height="240" data-rm-shortcode-id="c2207d08706617254e6bc7b6776e4d07" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Now it's a coffee mug, now it's a donut. To a topologist, they're the same anyway.
Credit: Lucas Vieira, public domain.<p>All this seems a bit pointless, so what is topology actually <em>for</em>? The point of it is that some geometric problems depend not on the shape of the objects involved, but on the way they're put together. </p><p>This issue first came up in the mid-18th century, in Leonhard Euler's so-called 'seven-bridge problem' (see also #536). Euler proved you could not go around Königsberg by using all of its bridges just once – but this had nothing to do with their inherent properties; only with how they were placed. </p><p>Despite being a relatively young branch of mathematics–topology only really took off in the early 20th century–it has already sprouted several branches of its own, including general, algebraic, and differential topology. </p><p>Topology also has a wide variety of applications: it informs the study of biological nanostructures, it's relevant for computer programming, it serves as a tool for string theorists, and it's even used to describe the very shape of the universe (in what is called <em>spacetime topology</em>).</p>
Global standard for metro maps<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTgyMTY2MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MTUxODY2M30.ZO8-rWzx0FtJoXuDDbAwE3H9sLnD7pVw6boJzTSgSqA/img.png?width=980" id="7248e" width="1085" height="1240" data-rm-shortcode-id="0eda10b3e7b41e252fc5f7fef690df16" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Washington DC's Metro Map, designed on the same topological principle as most other metro maps the world over.
Credit: Montrealais, CC BY-SA 3.0<p>Fortunately, the intersection of topology and cartography involves a lot less rocket science. Simply put, a topological map is a diagram from which unnecessary detail has been removed so that only the relationship between the various points is shown. </p><p>Perhaps the most famous example is the schematic map of the London Underground, which represents the network of Tube stations with the simplicity of an electrical grid, ignoring actual distance and routes between the stations, showing only how they interconnect. (See also #119). That representation has now become global standard for metro maps. </p><p>Peter Staub is a spatial data engineer and map geek who has taken topology above ground. He recently produced this Topologist's Map of Europe, and it's a delight.</p>
Spatial relationships<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTgyMTY2MS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0OTA1NjgwOH0.glLSxNN8BQwIo3fQTPRXn_dpO9hvVuSvYlfNo8w3aOc/img.png?width=980" id="0b4ed" width="1217" height="1010" data-rm-shortcode-id="4af3b6dac04cce0b4d042b51115a47d8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The outline of Europe is still vaguely recognisable, but most of the the countries are bent and twisted right out of shape.
Credit: © Peter Staub, Mollis GL/Switzerland – CC BY SA<p>As per the definition above, this topological map is a diagram from which all details have been removed, except the spatial relationship between the various countries. So we see exactly which other countries they border. To show those relationships, the countries' actual shapes and sizes have been totally sacrificed. </p><p>Take Italy, for example: boot-shaped on any normal map, here the country looks like the figure 8, to accommodate the two countries enclaved inside of it: the Vatican and San Marino. </p><p>Poland still borders Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, as it does in real life; but to do so, the country has had to change from a block into a squiggle. </p><p>France now looks like a long-bottomed chair with Andorra and Monaco between its legs, and Belgium for a headrest.</p><p>Countries are denoted by their internet TLDs (Top-Level Domain names). Some of the less familiar ones are Isle of Man (IM), Jersey (JE), and Guernsey (GG) – all dependencies of the British Crown. </p><p>The map also painstakingly reflects Europe's most controversial territorial disputes, hence the dotted lines across Cyprus (for the almost universally unrecognised breakaway republic of Northern Cyprus) and in Ukraine (supposedly for Russia's unilateral annexation of Crimea – or are these the breakaway areas in the east controlled by pro-Russian rebels?)</p>
Europe without borders<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTgyMTY2NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzg1NDY1N30.mh9Ut9NAIzAJCp5N4eX3vql2nGSVC5I_s56tW_NYrIo/img.jpg?width=980" id="738f6" width="1000" height="804" data-rm-shortcode-id="767206d68b8c1fdbcc0fe273895c3206" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The weirdness that is Lake Constance – topologically speaking.
Credit: © Peter Staub, Mollis GL/Switzerland – CC BY SA<p>Small dotted areas indicate disputes between Slovenia and Croatia, and between France and Italy (about whether the border between them crosses the summit of Mont Blanc or not). </p><p>Kosovo is recognised by many countries, but not yet by Serbia, from which it broke away. It doesn't get its own block, but its TLD (XK) is mentioned below the dotted line. </p><p>And what about that little area in between Germany (DE), Switzerland (CH), and Austria (AT) that looks like there's something wrong with your television? That's Lake Constance, on the border between Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. According to Switzerland, the border runs right down the middle of the lake. Austria claims the entire lake is a condominium between the three countries, and Germany's position is ambiguous. </p><p>As such, Lake Constance is the only area in Europe where neighboring states have never managed to agree on a border. Now, that's something you wouldn't have learned if this wasn't a topological map.</p><p><em><br></em></p><p><em>Map found <a href="https://twitter.com/peterstaub/status/1369284194883534853/photo/1" target="_blank">here</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/peterstaub" target="_blank">Peter Staub's Twitter</a>, which also contains topology maps of Germany, Switzerland and the Americas.</em></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1073</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em><br></p><p><em>Follow Strange Maps on <a href="https://twitter.com/FrankJacobs" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/VeryStrangeMaps" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></p>