from the world's big
Researchers tracking the migration of words to digital spaces have uncovered some surprising facts.
- Beyond Zoom and email, channels like social chat and real-time gaming communities are surging.
- These days, brands don't wait for us to find them online – they're coming to us on social media.
- Switching to airplane mode and spending some time in the real world every now and then can be good for both body and mind.
1. Too much time online is bad for your health.<p>Whether we like it or not, most of us are addicted to our mobile devices, with the average American checking his or her phone <a href="https://www.asurion.com/connect/tech-tips/are-you-addicted-to-your-phone/" target="_blank">80 times a day</a>. About 63 percent take our phones into the bathroom, and 70 percent of people fall asleep each night with their phone in reach.</p><p>But your phone compulsion could be doing more damage than you think. From <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4734149/" target="_blank">causing sleep deprivation</a>, to "<a href="http://nextshark.com/holding-your-smartphone-like-this-could-lead-to-a-deformed-pinky-warns-cell-phone-company/" target="_blank">text claw</a>," researchers are uncovering <a href="https://www.pcmag.com/news/11-reasons-to-stop-looking-at-your-smartphone" target="_blank">myriad ways</a> that our phone addictions are bad for our health. Switching to airplane mode and spending some time in the real world every now and then can be good for both body and mind. <br></p>
2. You need to write shorter emails.<p>It's likely that the phone addiction is to blame, but studies have shown that humans have a<a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/12/humans-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-smart/" target="_blank"> shorter attention span than goldfish</a>. Apparently, we can hold a thought for an average of just eight seconds.</p><p>So, if you're one of those people who has a tendency to write essays over email, the chances are that your recipient isn't reading all the way to the end. Experts <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/07/the-number-one-mistake-people-make-when-writing-work-emails.html" target="_blank">also suggest</a> that long emails send an unwritten message that you don't know your audience, or at least that you don't care so much about the recipient's time. </p>
3. Good grammar could help your love life.<p>Bad spelling and grammar are widely regarded as a professional no-no. But chances are, you never considered that it could be damaging other areas of your life. A <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0265407519878787" target="_blank">Dutch study</a> of online dating site users found that error-free language is generally linked to attractiveness, meaning that potential dates may find bad grammar off-putting before you ever get the opportunity to dazzle them in person.</p> <p>Online tools such as <a href="https://www.google.com/aclk?sa=l&ai=DChcSEwiArqrw1OXpAhVXhdUKHYIYCwsYABAAGgJ3cw&sig=AOD64_0bRYOnmDdJ2lyfncMh7J0C_J-Wog&q=&ved=2ahUKEwjWwaTw1OXpAhUKkxQKHUPXBxIQ0Qx6BAgcEAE&adurl=" target="_blank">Grammarly</a> can help polish up your written communications, and also integrate with your web browser along with word processing software. They'll help spot the kind of spelling and grammar mistakes that often slip through when you're multitasking and typing at speed, helping to polish your written communications. <br><br></p>
4. You probably communicate more with brands via social media than their own websites.<p>These days, brands don't wait for us to find them online – they're coming to us on social media. According to <a href="https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics" target="_blank">HubSpot</a>, Facebook is the primary content distribution channel for marketers in 2020, taking precedence even over their own websites. However, marketers are also maximizing their footprints across other channels, including Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat.</p><p>This isn't simply one-way communication, either. According to reports from Social Bakers, in April, PlayStation drew the <a href="https://www.socialbakers.com/resources/reports/united-states/2020/april" target="_blank">most interactions</a> of any brand on Twitter with 1.6 million, while Netflix took the top spot on Facebook with nearly 2.5 million likes, comments, and shares.</p>
5. Your emails might be more negative than you realize.<p>The "passive-aggressive" email trope has spawned <a href="https://www.boredpanda.com/passive-aggressive-email-phrases-meaning/" target="_blank">many a meme</a>. But as the old adage goes, it's funny because it's true. While the memes are amusing, the reality of receiving negative emails is less likely to make anyone laugh. In fact, <a href="https://www.biospace.com/article/negative-emails-at-work-could-be-seriously-affecting-your-personal-life/#:~:text=According%20to%20a%20new%20study,at%20home%20and%20at%20work." target="_blank">researchers have found</a> that email "incivility" is a cause of stress in the workplace that many people end up taking home with them, transferring it to their loved ones.</p> <p>AI can help. Tools such as <a href="https://www.boomeranggmail.com/insights/" target="_blank">Boomerang Insights</a> can scan your emails for tone, identifying positive and negative language and even drilling down into how you communicate with individual contacts.</p>
6. For online video presentations, desktop still trumps mobile.<p>From online courses and training sessions to product demonstrations and remote business meetings, webinars have proven to be a lifeline to many companies and employees affected by the pandemic.</p> <p>More than 8.5 million people attended some kind of webinar in 2019 on the ClickMeeting platform alone, <a href="https://blog.clickmeeting.com/webinar-report" target="_blank">according to the company</a>. Given the events of 2020, it's likely we'll see that number skyrocket this year. </p>
7. Slack could very well defeat work emails.<p>Slack just might end up being the work communication tool of choice that so many predicted back when it was first getting popular. Even before most of us had heard of it, Slack was the <a href="https://www.businessinsider.fr/us/fastest-companies-to-reach-a-2-billion-valuation-2015-5" target="_blank">fastest-growing</a> B2B company in history. By the time the company went public in 2019, it had over 10 million users sending more than <a href="https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1764925/000162828019007428/slacks-1a3.htm#sC9C346D78943772D97FB567D8BF6BBDD" target="_blank">a billion</a> messages each week.</p> <p>What's more, users of Slack are highly engaged. Slack's IPO papers filed with the SEC state that "paid customers averaged nine hours connected through at least one device and spent more than 90 minutes actively using Slack." </p> <p>Part of its popularity is the fact that Slack does away with the ceremony associated with email. This includes things like a formal greeting, or the expectation of a reply, which are a hangover from the days of letter-writing. In the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/25/slack-butterfield-emoji-chat-nasa-harvard-silicon-valley" target="_blank">words</a> of Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, "It's radical collaboration, a different way of working and thinking."</p>
8. WhatsApp is bigger than China.<p>If WhatsApp users were the population of a country, it would be <a href="https://news.canningspurple.com.au/dont-shoot-the-messenger-our-world-relies-on-it/#:~:text=The%20rise%20and%20rise%20of%20WhatsApp%20is%20representative%20of%20a,America%20and%20much%20of%20Africa." target="_blank">bigger than China</a>. We send <a href="https://www.oberlo.com/blog/whatsapp-statistics" target="_blank">60 billion messages</a> per day on the <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/071515/how-whatsapp-killing-sms-texting.asp" target="_blank">SMS-killer</a>. It's used for everything from organizing family gatherings to brand communications, to Netflix recommendations. </p>
9. Video chat is going through the roof in 2020.<p>Due to the coronavirus keeping office workers at home, it's perhaps unsurprising that video chat is having a moment. While there are plenty of platforms now offering this feature, including Skype, Google Hangouts, and text favorite WhatsApp, Zoom is the tool of choice among the American WFH set. The company grew to <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-zoom-video-commn-encryption/zoom-says-it-has-300-million-daily-meeting-participants-not-users-idUSKBN22C1T4" target="_blank">300 million meeting participants</a> in April, up from just <a href="https://venturebeat.com/2020/04/02/zooms-daily-active-users-jumped-from-10-million-to-over-200-million-in-3-months/" target="_blank">10 million</a> in December 2019.</p> <p>However, this growth hasn't been without controversy. Zoom has <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/1/21202584/zoom-security-privacy-issues-video-conferencing-software-coronavirus-demand-response" target="_blank">come under fire</a> from security and privacy advocates for failing to cover various vulnerabilities in its software. These include having default settings that don't include a password, and allowing any participant to share their screen, even if they've gatecrashed the meeting – a practice known as "<a href="https://www.howtogeek.com/667183/what-is-zoombombing-and-how-can-you-stop-it/" target="_blank">zoombombing</a>."</p>
10. You’re probably spending hours every day on chat apps.<p>We're spending an insane amount of time online these days – close to seven hours a day. Of that, we spend around <a href="https://wearesocial.com/blog/2020/01/digital-2020-3-8-billion-people-use-social-media" target="_blank">two hours</a> each day communicating via messaging and social apps on our phones. </p> <p>This means that these platforms account for the same time spent online on our phones as all other mobile activities combined.</p>
11. Social gaming has become a major force.<p>Online social gaming has become a massive industry, worth around <a href="https://www.statista.com/topics/2965/social-gaming/" target="_blank">$2.4 billion</a>. <a href="https://discord.com/company" target="_blank">Discord</a>, the messaging app that was designed for gamers, now handles around 963 million messages per day, with over 10 million players online at peak times. </p><p>Sure, that's a fraction of the message volume that WhatsApp sees in a day, but it's still eye-opening in terms of the power of the social, conversational layer to the gamer's experience.</p><p>Furthermore, the stereotypical gamers aren't kids in their bedrooms. According to the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/06/3-surprising-facts-about-the-gaming-industry-and-why-you-should-start-paying-attention/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>, the average U.S. gamer is 35 years old, with players over 50 accounting for 13 percent of the total in both male and female groups. With an audience of 665 million, more people watch video gameplay than major table networks and subscription TV services.</p>
Changing norms for communication<p>With social distancing likely to remain a norm for months, if not years, to come, online communication is only set to keep growing. Thankfully, the popularity of video and voice chat gives us a means of keeping human contact more present during these times.</p> <p>However, the question is, when things go back to normal, will physical face time (as opposed to FaceTime) ever hold the same value again? Only time will tell. </p>
USGS's 'Unified Geologic Map of the Moon' is the definitive blueprint of the lunar surface.
- Combining old maps with new data, the USGS has produced a definitive blueprint of the lunar surface.
- The new map will help scientists and astronauts find their way around the Moon.
- NASA's aim is to land the first woman on the Moon as early as 2024.
Future missions<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cdaa1a29a7e6048bfec8a8a7e14c78ea"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uoOfOoJOSpM?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Why is everybody so eager to get to Mars when the Moon is right next door? Perhaps Musk et al. are attracted by the planet's redness. Red is danger, excitement, life. By comparison, Earth's natural satellite exudes an uninvitingly pale glow.</p><p><span></span>This map will change all that. It shows the lunar surface as a riot of colors, its hemispheres two sizzling pizzas of varied and appetizing composure. There's something here for everybody's taste. Who wouldn't want a bite out of this?</p><p><span></span>Forgive the hyperbole, but whetting the appetite certainly was the intent with this 'Unified Geologic Map of the Moon'. For not only is it the first complete and uniform map of lunar surface geology, it's also an important planning instrument for future manned missions to the Moon. </p><p><span></span>The map was created by the <a href="https://www.usgs.gov/" target="_blank">U.S. Geological Survey</a>'s <a href="https://www.usgs.gov/centers/astrogeology-science-center" target="_blank">Astrogeology Science Center</a> in Flagstaff, Arizona. In collaboration with <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/" target="_blank">NASA</a> and the <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/" target="_blank">Lunar and Planetary Institute</a>, it combined six 'regional' maps of the Moon made during the <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/missions/index.html" target="_blank">Apollo</a> era (1961-1975) with input from more recent unmanned lunar missions. </p><p>This included data on the polar regions from NASA's <a href="https://lola.gsfc.nasa.gov/" target="_blank">Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter</a> (LOLA) and close-ups of the equatorial zone from the <a href="https://global.jaxa.jp/" target="_blank">Japanese Space Agency</a>'s recent <a href="http://www.kaguya.jaxa.jp/index_e.htm" target="_blank">SELENE</a> mission.<br></p>
Definitive blueprint<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzE3MjE0OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTMyNjQ4M30.M-Wt4Kb6AQl_ODGQzdHN66Rj5pFDqTBL0CX7D48Ka1c/img.jpg?width=980" id="3a1c5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7b79f8acef1c972fd214d6ee56b4c0e9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bThe near (left) and far side of the Moon." />
The near (left) and far side of the Moon.
Image: NASA/GSFC/USGS - public domain<p>The result: <a href="https://astrogeology.usgs.gov/search/map/Moon/Geology/Unified_Geologic_Map_of_the_Moon_GIS?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_term=a0782f18-dace-4067-ba02-d2e232c35e2a&utm_content=&utm_campaign=usgs" target="_blank">a single, high-resolution map</a> of the entire lunar surface, at a scale of 1:5,000,000 – the definitive blueprint of the Moon's surface geology. </p><p>Of course, the surface of the Moon is not as brightly colored as these maps – according to the dozen eyewitness accounts we have, the lunar terrain is light grey in the highlands and dark grey in the 'maria' (the so-called seas), and gives the overall impression of a world made out of asphalt.</p><p>The colors on the map refer to different types of surface features, grouped together according to their age:</p><ul><li>Brown features are 'pre-Nectarian': from the Moon's origin 4.5 billion years ago, to 3.92 billion years ago.</li><li>Orange and tan are 'Nectarian' features: 3.92 to 3.85 billion years old.</li><li>Purple, blue and pink are for 'Imbrian' features: 3.85 to 3.16 billion years old.</li><li>Green is for 'Eratosthenian': 3.16 to 1.1 billion years old.</li><li>Yellow for 'Copernican': from 1.1 billion years ago to the present.</li></ul><p>The various shades of each color refer to different feature types, such as craters, plateaus, basins, 'maria', plains, massifs, and domes. The detailed map also names a lot of features on the surface, and pinpoints the locations of previous landings – manned and unmanned. </p>
Artemis 2024<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzE3MjE3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MjM4MTE0OH0.89YDHBErTyAEpm56XRz0Z7NYJyJLwL4_mvbCMeXo3NI/img.jpg?width=980" id="8c0d7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="485631bec67000e21d146c3ee4087d1e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bExcerpt of the Moon map, showing the Apollo 11 landing site (below right)." />
Excerpt of the new Moon map, showing the Apollo 11 landing site (below right).
Image: USGS, public domain<p>This excellent map will help plan America's next excursion to the Moon. NASA's <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/artemisprogram" target="_blank">Artemis program</a> aims to land 'the first woman and the next man' on the Moon by 2024. </p><p>Ultimately, Artemis should lay the groundwork for continuous, sustainable habitation on the Moon; and help prepare the next giant leap for humanity… yes, to Mars. </p><p>Before our attention drifts off towards the Red Planet again, here are 10 things you may not have known about the Moon, just to keep you interested. </p><ul><li>The Moon is drifting away from Earth at a rate of 3.78 cm (1.48 in) per year, about the same speed as our fingernails grow.</li><li>The Moon – and especially the full Moon – was once considered a cause of neurological and psychiatric conditions, hence the term '<a href="https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lunatic" target="_blank">lunatic</a>', which literally means 'moonstruck'.</li><li>The Moon determines when it's <a href="https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/determining-easter-date.html" target="_blank">Easter</a>: the first Sunday after the first Saturday after the first full Moon after the spring equinox (20-22 March). </li><li>In the 1950s, the U.S. considered detonating a nuke on the Moon. '<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2000/may/14/spaceexploration.theobserver" target="_blank">Project A119</a>' was meant to project strength at a time when the Americans were behind the Soviets in the space race.</li><li>Seismographs on the lunar surface have measured 'moonquakes', small movements several miles below the surface, caused by the gravitational pull of the Earth.</li><li>The land speed record on the Moon is 10.56 miles per hour, set by a lunar rover.</li><li>The space suit worn by the Apollo astronauts weighed 180 pounds on Earth, but only 30 pounds on the Moon, due to reduced lunar gravity.</li><li><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/astronautprofiles/cernan" target="_blank">Gene Cernan</a> was the last of the 12 men who have walked on the Moon, so far. His final words on the lunar surface, on 14 December 1972, were: "As I take man's last step from the surface, back home for some time to come (but we believe not too long into the future), I'd like to just say what I believe history will record: That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return: with peace and hope for all mankind."</li><li>A <a href="https://books.google.dk/books?id=Uc-UDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA91&lpg=PA91&dq=%22lowell+observatory%22+moon+cheese&source=bl&ots=YKAotnrhQ5&sig=ACfU3U0PE9nQxLUMMpBbdImMe3Ivrt6JyQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiWzJ-ux4vpAhXH6aQKHbiBDwYQ6AEwAHoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22lowell%20observatory%22%20moon%20cheese&f=false" target="_blank">1988 survey by the Lowell Observatory</a> found that 13 percent of Americans believe that the Moon is at least partially made of cheese.</li><li>The Moon is a one-person graveyard. Celebrated astro-geologist Eugene Shoemaker wanted to be an astronaut but was disqualified for medical reasons. Instead, he trained Apollo astronauts for their lunar missions. After his death in 1997, his ashes were placed on board NASA's Lunar Prospector, which was crashed onto the Moon in 1999. Shoemaker remains <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/eugene-shoemaker-buried-on-moon.htm" target="_blank">the only human buried on another world</a>.</li></ul>
Most of it was eaten by Earth's mantle, but scraped-off bits survive in the Alps and other mountain ranges.
- Following a 10-year survey, geologists discover a lost continent in the Mediterranean.
- 'Greater Adria' existed for 100 million years, and was probably "great for scuba diving".
- Most of it has been swallowed up by Earth's mantle, but bits of it survive.
Complex geology<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjAxMjUxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMDE4OTI2MH0.IenexvWxtpY_jWTI8pipCmvDmBPliVqR7Hgdf8fnpHU/img.jpg?width=980" id="b8d85" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="34380b4a09917c1b51d9e41bcefb057d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Topographic map of the Mediterranean Sea basin, once home to the continent of Greater Adria." />
Topographic map of the Mediterranean Sea basin, once home to the continent of Greater Adria.
Image: NASA / public domain<p>Move over, Atlantis. Not all lost continents are myths; here's one whose existence has just been verified by science. Greater Adria broke off from North Africa 240 million years ago. About 120 million years later, it started sinking beneath Southern Europe. But bits of it remain, scattered across local mountain ranges.</p><p><span></span>It's the geological similarities in those mountains that had led scientists to hypothesize the presence of an ancient continent in the Mediterranean. But the region's geology is so complex that only recent advances in computing—and a 10-year survey by an international team of scientists—were able to produce a geo-historical outline of that former land mass. This is the very first map of the world's latest lost continent (1).</p><p><span></span>The 100-million-year history of Greater Adria starts nearly a quarter of a billion years ago. The world was a very different place back then. It was just recovering from the Permian-Triassic extinction, which came pretty close to wiping out all life on Earth. The planet was repopulated by the first mammals and dinosaurs. </p>
Supercontinental break-up<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjAxMjUxMS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTc1MjUzOH0.FbnnsJ0E5VT3P_iIhaFCq0bhrQ1YmOytSoPP1JPRwJY/img.png?width=980" id="69ff1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="30f64dbadb64a83eb8c3c9fc677278a0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="All together now: the supercontinent of Pangaea (335-175 million years ago)." />
All together now: the supercontinent of Pangaea (335-175 million years ago).
Image: Kieff / GFDL 1.2<p>Oblivious that biological imperative, Earth's geology was on a course of its own: fragmentation. At that time, the planet's land masses had coagulated into a single supercontinent, <a href="https://bigthink.com/news/pangea-politico-map-reveals-modern-countries-on-the-ancient-supercontinent" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pangaea.</a> </p><p>Around 240 million years ago, a Greenland-sized piece of continental plate broke off from what would become North Africa and started drifting north. Between 120 and 100 million years ago, the continent smashed into Southern Europe. Even though the speed of that collision was no more than 3 to 4 cm per year, it ended up shattering the 100-km thick crust. </p><p>Most of the continental plate was pushed under Southern Europe and swallowed up by Earth's mantle, a process known as subduction. Seismic waves can still detect the plate, now stuck at a depth of up to 1500 km. <br></p><p>But some of the sedimentary rocks on top were too light to sink, so they were scraped off and got crumpled up—the origin of various mountain chains across the Mediterranean region: the Apennines in Italy, parts of the Alps, and ranges in the Balkans, Greece and Turkey. </p>
Death and birth<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b6e9d18f5ebe97540b2acf42bfddcdfa"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/tf9r2SmTJ1A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Flowing from present to deep past, this time-lapse reconstruction of the geological history of the Mediterranean shows the death and birth (in that order) of Greater Adria in unprecedented amounts of detail.</p><p>Some bits of Greater Adria survived both the shave-off into mountainhood and death by subduction. "The only remaining part of this continent is a strip that runs from Turin via the Adriatic Sea to the heel of Italy's boot," says Douwe van Hinsbergen, Professor of Global Tectonics and Paleogeography at Utrecht University, and the study's principal researcher. That's an area geologists call 'Adria', so the team, consisting of scientists from Utrecht, Oslo and Zürich, called the lost continent 'Greater Adria'. </p><p>What was the continent like? A shallow continental shelf in a tropical sea, where sediments were slowly turned into rock, Greater Adria possibly resembled Zealandia, a largely submerged continent with bits sticking out (i.e. New Zealand and New Caledonia), or perhaps the Florida Keys, an archipelago of non-volcanic islands. Either way, dotted with islands and archipelagos above the water, and lots of coral below, it was "probably good for scuba diving," Van Hinsbergen says.<br></p><p>It took scientists this long to produce the first map of Greater Adria not just because the Mediterranean is, in the words of Van Hinsbergen, "a geological mess (…) Everything is curved, broken and stacked. Compared to this, the Himalayas represent a rather simpler system." Greater Adria perished by subduction and scraping-off. The Himalayas emerged by the collision of two continents. </p>
Ore deposits<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjAxMjUxOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NDU3MzkxN30.LM6bVix9CeDUg5vzUre2skxcxyk0hYHQFUjLatA29R0/img.jpg?width=980" id="02403" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7a95c1d043c006bd0853cdf3564fec5e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A reconstruction of Greater Adria, Africa and Europe about 140 million years ago. In lighter green, submerged parts of continental shelves." />
A reconstruction of Greater Adria, Africa and Europe about 140 million years ago. In lighter green, submerged parts of continental shelves.
Image: Utrecht University<p>The region also has a complex geopolitical makeup, obliging the researchers to piece together evidence from 30 different countries, from Spain to Iran, "each with its own geological survey, own maps, own ideas about evolutionary history. Research often stops at national borders."<br></p>So what has geology learned from the discovery of Greater Adria?<ul><li>First off, that its hypothesis was right: Geological similarities across the Mediterranean really did point to a lost continent, now found.</li><li>Secondly, the reconstruction of Greater Adria has also taught geologists that subduction is the basic way in which mountain belts are formed.</li><li>They've also learned a great deal about volcanism and earthquakes, and "(we) can even predict, to a certain extent, what a given area will look like in the far future," van Hinsbergen says.</li><li>Finally, and practically, these insights will help scientists and surveyors to identify and locate ore deposits and other useful materials in mountain belts. </li></ul>
As Game of Thrones ends, a revealing resolution to its perplexing geography.
- The fantasy world of Game of Thrones was inspired by real places and events.
- But the map of Westeros is a good example of the perplexing relation between fantasy and reality.
- Like Britain, it has a Wall in the North, but the map only really clicks into place if you add Ireland.
A world of "goblin porn"<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ5MDExMi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MjQ1MzM1MX0.7Nt6e30kVePubmQk9r-JGt5vIUuH9MuLuRzTNjcyAFI/img.png?width=980" id="acfba" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e869701dc1f5a1bc69363de4125f6c9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The Known World, with Westeros top left. Image source: A Wiki of Ice and Fire / public domain<p>Warning: if you haven't caught up, mild spoiler ahead.</p><p>"Hell is other people talking about <em>Game of Thrones</em>," <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/14/i-dont-watch-game-of-thrones-which-makes-me-a-lot-more-interesting-than-you" target="_blank">writes Arwa Mahdawi</a> in <em>The Guardian</em> this week. A few days more, and the eighth and final season of the show she dubs "densely plotted goblin porn" — clearly, she's not a fan — will be over.</p><p>Meanwhile, hell is hard to avoid. When it comes to following GoT, I'm on Team Arwa (a.k.a. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/SLContentProvider/videos/10155869239233512/?v=10155869239233512" target="_blank">Team Stewart</a>) but even we have heard rumors about a sudden bout of genocidal mania, and Daenerys perhaps no longer being <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/05/13/why-least-parents-may-be-having-regrets-after-last-nights-game-thrones/?utm_term=.5be533887eb0" target="_blank">such a good baby name</a>.</p><p>Fortunately for map nerds, GoT's dense plotting also extends to its topography. Just like the series' peoples, protagonists and events — often borrowed from actual history, then slightly altered — its fictional map is more than loosely based on ours.</p>
Maps to frame fantasy<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ5MDEwNy9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNDc2MDMwNn0.RWN-x_wlWjZm6N6SZ-m-M5JilodSGIOaRhsZ1XoRt30/img.png?width=980" id="a0a0f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c58983afcc622614e06589c42f56871a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The first part of Gulliver's Travels (1726) contained a Map of Lilliput and Blefuscu, showing the fictional islands positioned in the Indian Ocean, north-west of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania). Image source: British Library / public domain<p>Fantasy locations have been a literary device at least since Plato spun his stories about <a href="https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/394-athanasius-kirchers-atlantis" target="_self">Atlantis</a>, back in the 4th century BC. From Plato only a description of the island survives, more recent tales of fictional geography came with a map: Thomas More's <a href="https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/51-a-colour-map-of-utopia" target="_self"><em>Utopia</em></a>, Jonathan Swift's Lilliput (and other islands visited by Gulliver), and Robert Louis Stevenson's <a href="https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/378-x-m-aarrrh-ks-the-spot" target="_self"><em>Treasure Island</em></a>. </p><p>The watershed fantasy map, the one that spawned a thousand imitations, is the map of Middle-Earth, <a href="https://www.countrylife.co.uk/out-and-about/focus-hand-drawn-maps-jrr-tolkien-launched-middle-earth-181987" target="_blank">created by J.R.R. Tolkien himself</a> (from the 1920s to the 1940s): as the endpapers to the <em>Lord of the Rings</em> trilogy, they framed the wanderings of the Fellowship, the movements of armies and heroes, and the deep history underlying the narrative. </p><p>"I wisely started with a map and made the story fit," Tolkien once quipped. George R.R. Martin did it the other way around: he envisaged the opening scene of the first book of <em>A Song of Ice and Fire </em>(the book series adapted as GoT) and built the tale — and the world around it — from there.</p>
Not just a badly drawn Britain<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ5MDExNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjAyNDMzN30.kyFri8hL3N-4bZbulzhawa0yDAONO_tfEi6eis1XOVI/img.jpg?width=980" id="c814e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2aa6bb52e9348162d213dc8a02da3ce5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Mighty Westeros side by side with tiny Britain. Image source: Imgur<p>Only then did he take on the mantle of the First Cartographer, and it's his hand-drawn maps that appear in the books. Another similarity with Tolkien, whose <a href="https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/121-where-on-earth-was-middle-earth" target="_self">fantasy world was inspired by real geography</a> was that Martin also drew his world with one eye on the map of Europe, and especially the British Isles. </p><p>Most of the action, in the books and the series, takes place on the continent of Westeros (there is a whole Known World out there as well). There's an obvious parallel with Great Britain in the Wall in the North: at 700 feet high and 300 miles long, it is a clear extrapolation of Hadrian's Wall (a mere 73 miles long, and never higher than 20 feet). </p><p>Westeros is much bigger than Britain, though: about 3,000 miles from the Wall to the south coast, about six times the distance from Aberdeen to London. But Westeros is not just a badly drawn Britain, nor a mirrored version of its land mass (two popular theories). Things click into place — literally — if you do the following: </p><p>Take Ireland, turn it on its head, inflate it by about a third, and stick it to Britain's bottom (via a new land bridge called The Neck). And hey presto, there's Westeros.</p>
Britain and Ireland, joined at the - ahem - south coast<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c7ef3755e919b26847271564f3e9a260"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ftc9rZIifYY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>In fact, Martin admitted as much at the 2014 Comic–Con: "If you want to know where a lot of fantasy maps come from, take a look at any map in the front of your favorite fantasy book and turn it upside down. Westeros began as upside-down Ireland. You can see the Fingers at the Dingle Peninsula."</p><p>This has some implications for the (presumed) parallels between locations in Westeros on one side, and Britain/Ireland on the other. For instance, King's Landing, the capital of Westeros, corresponds to Galway rather than London. </p><p>But such correspondences are futile. Each borrowing from actual history and geography is given a little twist, so people can argue until they're blue in the face whether the Red Wedding was inspired by the St. Bartholomew Day's Massacre or by the Black Dinner, whether the Dothraki are the Huns or the Mongols, and if Winterfell is Manchester or Leeds. </p><p>For some, King's Landing is reminiscent of old Constantinople. In the TV series, the old walled cities of Mdina (Malta) and Dubrovnik (Croatia) stand in for the capital. And Martin himself dreamt up the teeming city remembering the view of Staten Island from his childhood home in Bayonne, New Jersey. </p><p>For some, that tension with "real" history and geography adds a layer of enjoyment to GoT. Team Arwa can feign interest in a cartographic discovery that hardcore fans have made years ago, and will be happy only when the last dragon has finally landed. <br> <br></p>
Tracking project establishes northern Argentina is wintering ground of Swainson's hawks
- Watch these six dots move across the map and be moved yourself: this is a story about coming of age, discovery, hardship, death and survival.
- Each dot is a tag attached to the talon of a Swainson's Hawk. We follow them on their very first migration, from northern California all the way down to Argentina.
- After one year, only one is still alive.
Discovered: destination Argentina<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTI3OTQ1NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzE3OTU2OH0.m84r1M_mjUat443mtveZ7m1czjRms4HdjGhvtURhoL0/img.png?width=980" id="e53a6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="44ee9f8af916bef2df1eb0626097a6b8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Young Swainson's hawks were found to migrate to northern Argentina
Image: @TrackingTalons<p>The <em>Buteo swainsoni </em>is a slim, graceful hawk that nests from the Great Plains all the way to northern California. </p><p>It feeds mainly on insects, but will also prey on rodents, snakes and birds when raising their young. These learn to fly about 45 days after hatching but may remain with their parents until fall migration, building up flying skills and fat reserves. </p><p>A common sight in summer over the Prairies and the West, Swainson's hawks disappear every autumn. While it was assumed they migrated south, it was long unclear precisely where they went. </p><p>A group of researchers that has been studying raptors in northern California for over 40 years has now established exactly where young Swainson's hawks go in winter. The story of their odyssey, <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/azy9x9/first_year_of_life_for_six_swainsons_hawks_oc/" target="_blank">summarized in a 30-second clip</a> (<em>scroll down</em>), is both amazing and shocking. <span></span></p>
Harnessing the hawks<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTI3OTQ1NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MTMwMTA4N30.oFghkTOyj9yYhzUN-YJu_Qy4BD44nl03KVGCRse4BLE/img.png?width=980" id="5ae98" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dbb1b2f6b8e561c8573b834f14f78795" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A Swainson's hawk, with tracking device.
'Migration unrest'<blockquote class="reddit-card" data-card-created="1552919967"><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/azy9x9/first_year_of_life_for_six_swainsons_hawks_oc/">First year of life for six Swainson's Hawks [OC]</a> from <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful">r/dataisbeautiful</a></blockquote> <script async src="//embed.redditmedia.com/widgets/platform.js" charset="UTF-8"></script><p>There's a strong genetic component to migration. As usual, the Germans have nice single word to summarize this complex concept: <em>Zugunruhe</em> ('tsook-n-roowa'), literally: 'migration unrest' (1). It denotes the seasonal urge of migratory animals – especially birds – to get on their way. <em>Zugunruhe</em> exhibits especially as restless behavior around nightfall. The number of nights on which it occurs is apparently higher if the distance to be traveled is longer. </p><p><span></span>The birds may have the urge to go south, but genetics doesn't tell them the exact route. They have to find that out by trial and error. Hence the circling about by the specimens in this clip: they're getting a sense of where to find food and which direction to go. Their migratory paths will be refined by experience – if they're lucky enough to survive that long.</p><p><span></span>Each bird flies solo: their paths often strongly diverge, and if they seem to meet up occasionally, that's just an illusion: even when the dots are close together, they can still be dozens if not hundreds of miles apart. </p>
Panama snack stop<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTI3OTQ1Ni9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTk0MjA2M30.kxjZBGkfDFSWQUoO1ijkhFpWZCmsv2z5UAsGQGDEdYg/img.png?width=980" id="22f0c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0de6853b41ff80629e9ba0b66d66092e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The Central American isthmus is a major bird migration corridor
Image: @TrackingTalons<p>They generally follow the same route as it is the path of least resistance: follow mountain ranges, stay over land. Like most raptors, Swainson's hawks migration paths are land-based: not just so they can roost at night, but mainly to benefit from the thermals and updrafts to keep them aloft. That reduces the need to flap wings, and thus their energy spend – even though the trip will take longer that way. </p><p><span></span>As this clip demonstrates, the land-migration imperative means the Central American isthmus is a hotspot for bird migration. Indeed, Panama and Costa Rica are favorite destinations for bird watchers, when the season's right. A bit to the north, Veracruz in Mexico is another bird migration hotspot. </p><p><span></span>It's thought most hawks don't eat at all on migration. This clip shows an exception to that rule: on the way back, one bird takes an extended stopover of a couple of weeks in Panama, probably spending its time there foraging for food. </p><p><span></span>So, when they finally arrive in northern Argentina, after 6 to 8 weeks' migration, the hawks are pretty famished. Until a few decades ago, they fed on locusts. For their own reasons, local farmers have been getting rid of those. The hawks now concentrate on grasshoppers, and basically anything else that's edible. </p><p><span></span>For first-time visitors, finding what they need is not easy. Three of the five dots go dark. These birds probably died from starvation. But two birds thrive: they roam the region until winter rears its head in South America, and it's time to head back north again, where summer is getting under way.</p><p><span></span>Both dots make it back across the border, but unfortunately, right at the end of the clip, one of the surviving two birds expires. </p>
Harsh, but not unusual<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTI3OTQ1Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMTU2NzE2MX0.CJNmLRwv-29GWME0k0lzv_TtdyVxGLbxgRp31_jDpgA/img.jpg?width=980" id="511a7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6578411e0425614f2ce342a3b5ad473d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
This old lady is 27 years old, but still nesting.
Migration trajectory of B95, the 'Moonbird'.