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#5702 - 08/26/00 08:26 PM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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#5703 - 08/27/00 02:33 PM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
Jackie Offline

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Okay, I'll lay myself out for correction/argument/ridicule--
haven't anything better to do just now, anyway.

Max, I am going to respond as though your question is asking why our world is considered right-side-up in maps that have North America, Europe, etc., above Tasmania, NZ,
etc. (In part because I haven't a clue as to where the
labels North and South came from.)

This would seem to be a problem to which the simplest solution may be right: it makes sense to me that it is this
way because not only did the northern hemisphere produce
cultures advanced enough to explore the globe and make maps
first, it produced vaster quantities of explorers/mapmakers.

I envision centuries-ago scenes where they looked at each other and agreed that of course the lands they were familiar with were "above", in all senses, the lands filled
with either uncivilized people, or no people, or at least which did not have representatives in sufficient quantities to make their view prevail. (You-all, don't take me literally on that one.)

I also imagine that early mapmakers in say, Australia, whom I don't actually believe were hanging off the bottom of the earth (!), probably drew maps of their continent with the part we call the South Pole at the top. They just walked/rode "up" and "down" and back and forth across their continent, and became aware of the curvature of the earth
just as the explorers of the opposite hemisphere did. And, to them, the coldest part would be toward the narrower "top".


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#5704 - 08/27/00 02:49 PM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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#5705 - 08/27/00 03:18 PM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
Jazzoctopus Offline
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Registered: 07/03/00
Posts: 1094
Loc: Cincinnati & Loveland, Ohio, U...
Perhaps I'm oversimplifying this, but maybe they just picked one direction and universalized it. Maybe it wasn't a choice of superiority, but just a capricious decision made by a famous map maker, and it caught on, just like how misused words catch on.

And in response to: New puzzle - why would the wonderfully whimsical spell-checker suggest "O'Brien" as a replacement for "NZ"?

I would say that it's because this spell checker goes to the next alphabetical word, and seeing as there are no possible words beginning with N that can come after NZ, it moves on to the first existing word that begins with O, this being O'Brien because numbers, apostrophes and other non-alphabetical characters come first.


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#5706 - 08/27/00 04:13 PM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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#5707 - 08/27/00 10:32 PM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
tsuwm Offline
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okay, here are some thoughts on your north v. south puzzle:
the earth is a giant magnet and as such has the usual magnetic properties, such as magnetic poles. (the North magnetic pole is *very displaced from the geographic pole.) perhaps these magnetic poles place N/S by convention. another question to ask is in regards to the discovery of earth magnetism in relation to the cartography conventions.
I don't have any answers to these questions, it just seems that this might be something to consider....




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#5708 - 08/27/00 11:15 PM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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#5709 - 08/28/00 12:41 AM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
lusy Offline
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Posts: 140
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Since compasses always point North, I suppose it makes sense to have that direction at the top of one's compass, at 12 o'clock, rather than at 6 o'clock.

Yes, one end of the compass needle indeed points north, but the other end points just as surely south. So why should we of the (anglicised) Antipuses be forced to have the tops of our compasses indicating a spot some 6 or 7,000 miles away beneath our feet?

sakezuki lusy
(somewhat in the grip of post-golf Shiraz)


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#5710 - 08/28/00 02:14 AM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
Bingley Offline
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I wonder if the answer might not have something to do with globes. When the first globes were made most, if not all, of the customers would have been in Europe. It's easier to see something when it's at the top of a globe than when it's at the bottom, especially if the globe is on a stand on the floor. At the time not much was known about the Southern hemisphere so if you put South at the top, you would have lots of embarrassing gaps at the top and all the stuff your customers are interested in down at the bottom where it's difficult to see.

Bingley
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#5711 - 08/28/00 07:18 AM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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#5712 - 08/28/00 08:39 AM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
Bingley Offline
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In reply to:

why a switch was made from South at the top to North at the top


Max, where did you actually get the information that South used to be at the top? In medieval times Jerusalem, i.e., East, used to be at the top, but I've never heard of South being at the top before.

Bingley

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#5713 - 08/28/00 01:17 PM which Hemisphere is "top."
TEd Remington Offline
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Bingley is getting closer to the correct answer, but I think you will find that the first "globes" were not globes of the earth, but globes of the heavens. I think they were called celestial spheres. Certainly a prime feature of them would have been either the pole star or the southern cross, and since most of the "known world" was north of the equator, it would have made good sense to have the depiction reflect the reality the creators could see.

It was different, apparently, in Kentucky. My great-grandfather wrote down the story of the horse breeder there who could not get his race horses to run because these pesky robins built their nests in the manes of the horses. The constant singing of the birds distracted the horses. He (gran'ther) proved that a yeast solution would drive the birds away. Proving, of course, that yeast is yeast, and nest is nest, and never the manes shall tweet.

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#5714 - 08/28/00 03:01 PM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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#5715 - 08/29/00 06:43 AM Re: which Hemisphere is "top."
paulb Offline
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Loc: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
<and never the manes shall tweet>

You been at the moonshine again, Ted?


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#5716 - 08/29/00 07:27 AM Re: which Hemisphere is "top."
TEd Remington Offline
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>You been at the moonshine again, Ted?

Still.

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#5717 - 08/29/00 09:25 AM Re: which Hemisphere is "top."
william Offline
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Posts: 200
obviously there is no logical reason why north is up. and in many ways, considering the shiraz to be enjoyed post or not post golf in the southern hemispere, south is currently up.
i think the question has to do with who drew the maps, doesn't it? i notice maps from the u.s. show that country in the centre. this is the "customer" issue again. once people get used to the shapes of countries - australia is such a distinctive shape north up! - it's hard to change it.
the political question is really "should we change maps to reflect our "global village" ideas?" (whatever that means), or at least get greenland into size.


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#5718 - 08/29/00 10:24 AM Re: which Hemisphere is "top."
Jackie Offline

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>>It was different, apparently, in Kentucky

Ted, which Kentucky was your gran'ther in? Must have been the one in Max's South-at-the-top, or the one found at the
bottom of lusy's shiraz (whatever that is), 'cuz it sure
weren't the one where I live!

I live in the one that Dan'l Boone discovered: the mane one that got tweaked off the western end of Virginia.


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#5719 - 08/29/00 10:44 AM Re: which Hemisphere is "top."
william Offline
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Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 200
jackie, shiraz is the name of a wine making grape. it's called syrah in france, but some argue in australia it has become different enough to warrant a different name.
it makes beautiful wine in the rhone, famously "chateau neuf du pape", and also in australia, famously "grange".
the grape used to be called "hermitage" in australia (after the northern rhone area), but because the french copyrighted the names of their regions, she name changed to that of a city in iran (which apparently isn't copyrighted)!


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#5720 - 09/01/00 05:39 AM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
Bridget Offline
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Registered: 06/27/00
Posts: 444
Loc: Sydney Australia
I just stumbled on this thread for the first time and this is what I thought before I read it all:

-imagine standing with a compass in front of you, with an arrow on one end. If you rotate yourself around, at some point the compass will face straight to you / away from you. You are now facing either north or south - for simplicity's sake let's say north. (Sorry Max!!!)
-if you now map what's in front of you, stuff in the far north ends up at the top of the page. By extension, stuff behind you must belong at the bottom of the page.

This makes visual sense to me. It also suggests that maps might have started off with either north or south at the top of the page, then inevitably one had to win out as the standard. (Dangerous aside in a forum like this one, but it's a bit like which side of the road to drive - the only places I know of where you drive on the left are islands...)

I find myself much more flummoxed by the idea of a map with east at the top than that of a map with south at the top. Now, has anyone come across maps with west at the top? We need to be sure no-one is disavantaged!!!


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#5721 - 09/01/00 06:04 AM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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#5722 - 09/01/00 09:56 AM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
tsuwm Offline
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Loc: this too shall pass
in the final analysis, aren't we all on islands? (which is to say that eventually you come to water and have to circle back, short of having an amphibious vehicle ;)


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#5723 - 09/01/00 11:28 AM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
RhubarbCommando Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/23/00
Posts: 2204
> I am a knight who says "put South back on top." Who will help me tilt at this windmill?

Normally, this is just the sort of lost cause to which I joyfully give support. But how can I, from the Northern Hemisphere, grant succour to a person - even one who is an undoubted expert on HHGTTG - who describes me as "a bottom-dweller?"


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#5724 - 09/01/00 12:08 PM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
apples + oranges Offline
newbie

Registered: 08/30/00
Posts: 46
Loc: Canada
In medieval times Jerusalem, i.e., East, used to be at the top

I have a few ideas.
1. Similarily to what another person said here. It all depends on where you're facing. If you step outside and your front door faces (for fun let's say) west, that's the direction you'll map to the top of your house. Then you move around the block and (as someone else mentioned) end up with a map that has your house in the middle. Such a way of picking the direction might account for the Top is East in medieval Jerusalem.

2. Another reason might be: how comfortable are you with the sun? In the northern hemisphere--the shadow on a sundial would point more to the north. In the southern hemisphere--the shadow would point to the south. Would you rather be facing the sun, or have it behind you (in reference with point 2)? Also, where would you want the sun to rise, and where to set?

Can't reach me here? E-mail me duskydreamer@icqmail.com or ICQ me 71367484.

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#5725 - 09/01/00 02:28 PM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
jmh Offline
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Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
South at the top?
I think you will find that in Ancient Egypt - Upper Egypt - the source of the Nile was at the top. As we all know water flows downhill, so the top of Egypt was at the top of the map and the Nile Delta was at the bottom. This may be where you came across the idea - I've looked for examples of maps on the Internet but all the maps I've found are modern interpretations, designed to give details of ancient sites rather than showing how the world was seen at the time.http://kroeber.anthro.mankato.msus.edu/prehistory/egypt/maps/mainmap.html

I should imagine that the source of a river was as good as anything to put at the top of a map in ancient civilisations.

I particularly like the Peter Projection which gives much better idea of the size of Africa.




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#5726 - 09/01/00 03:39 PM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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#5727 - 09/01/00 03:44 PM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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#5728 - 09/02/00 07:08 AM Re: Islands and Continents
RhubarbCommando Offline
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Registered: 08/23/00
Posts: 2204
> aren't we all on islands?

It depends, I suppose, on how you define an island. If you regard it as an area of land surrounded by water (as someone has already suggested) then Max's "island" stretching from Cape to Cape is a tenable view - although relying on a frozen Baring Strait could be a matter for contention. But few people would subscribe to such a definition, if only because it makes the term "island" more or less meaningless, from a practical point of view. So how can you define an island (apart from insisting the no man is -- ) ?? Or how do you define a continent, for that matter?

Australia is generally considered to be a continent, but a glance at any atlas shows it quite clearly as an island, albeit a pretty huge one. If you regard that continent as being Australasia, then you are presented with a series of islands.

Europe and Asia are considered to be separate continents yet are very clearly joined. You could, if you so wished, travel from one to the other without passing water, if I may put it that way. Trans-continent rather than incontinent, one might say.

This is a matter that has not previously given me any reason for reflection, but I own to being very confused, now


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#5729 - 09/02/00 08:23 AM Re: Islands and Continents
Jackie Offline

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Europe and Asia are considered to be separate continents yet are very clearly joined. You could, if you so wished, travel from one to the other without passing water, if I may put it that way. Trans-continent rather than incontinent, one might say.

This is a matter that has not previously given me any reason for reflection, but I own to being very confused, now


Ohmigawd !! Oh, I am absolutely screaming, Rhuby!
Oh, the gutter has riz up and swallowed us whole! You'd have to be in-continent to be transcontinent from Europe to
Asia, but to do it without being incontinent, you'd have to
have one very strong bladder!


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#5730 - 09/02/00 08:50 AM Re: Islands and Continents - off topic - gutters
RhubarbCommando Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/23/00
Posts: 2204
> Oh, the gutter has riz up

Jackie, I have to protest about rising up from the gutter. On my house, the gutter runs along the eaves and collects the rainwater from the roof. Whilst it is possible to rise from that position, it is much easier to fall, so my personal viewpoint is that I descend from the gutter to, shall we say, abstruse historical analysis. (or whatever)
This also ties in with the possibility that we humans have a limited potential for sinking deeper into abstract and intellectual thought, whilst our potential for ascending to heights of scatology appears to be infinite.




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#5731 - 09/02/00 07:49 PM Re: Islands and Continents - off topic - gutters
Jackie Offline

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our potential for ascending to heights of scatology appears to be infinite

I read you loud and clear: you're saying s--t floats!
Now I understand your odd perspective on gutters--
yours have nice leaves, and get washed by lovely rainwater.
I was thinking of the ones that run along the edges of the
streets, and used to carry much nastier things than that.
They may even have contributed to the cholera outbreaks in Britain in 1832, '47, '53, and '66.


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#5732 - 09/03/00 06:05 AM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
Bridget Offline
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>the weight of evidence favours the idea that driving on the left was the historical norm, with the alternative a result of a conscious desire to break with tradition.<

Thanks Max - please let me know if you find it!

As for islands, I consider Australia an island and Australasia a continent. I was using 'island' as shorthand for 'island with a single unified governmental structure' - although if I analysed this I might find that my own native land (Britain or England depending on whether I'm thinking about life or rugby - I leave it to you to work out which is more important!) doesn't quite fit the definition....

I long ago gave up trying to remember how many continents there were when I realised I didn't know whether Asia and Europe were two continents or Eurasia was one.


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#5733 - 09/03/00 02:01 PM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
Jazzoctopus Offline
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Registered: 07/03/00
Posts: 1094
Loc: Cincinnati & Loveland, Ohio, U...
I believe a continent is defined by whether it's on its own tectonic plate. Asia and Europe are on two separate plates that smashed into each other creating the Ural mountains. That's why they're considered different continents. Australia is on it's own plate with Oceana and New Zealand, making it a continent. Greenland, however, is on the same plate as the rest of North America, so it's just an island. India is apparently on it's own plate as well, but it's so small that it's just called a sub-continent.


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#5734 - 09/04/00 01:39 AM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
Bingley Offline
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In reply to:

-imagine standing with a compass in front of you, with an arrow on one end. If you rotate yourself around, at some point the compass will face straight to you / away from you. You are now facing either north or south - for simplicity's sake let's say north. (Sorry Max!!!)
-if you now map what's in front of you, stuff in the far north ends up at the top of the page. By extension, stuff behind you must belong at the bottom of the page.
...

I find myself much more flummoxed by the idea of a map with east at the top than that of a map with south at the top.


If I remember rightly the compass came into use (in Europe at least, earlier in China) some time in the early 15th century, so I think Ted's theory of celestial globes is more likely.


Bingley

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#5735 - 09/04/00 01:49 AM Re: North is up, and South is down - sez hu?
Bingley Offline
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Loc: Jakarta
In reply to:

I believe a continent is defined by whether it's on its own tectonic plate.


As I understand the situation, tectonic plate theory was first put forward in the early part of this century (without wishing to YART I still consider this the 20th century) but did not gain acceptance until the late 1950s or early 1960s. So how were continents defined before then?

Bingley

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#5736 - 09/07/00 02:21 AM continents
Bridget Offline
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Posts: 444
Loc: Sydney Australia
>As I understand the situation, tectonic plate theory was first put forward in the early part of this century (without wishing to YART I still consider this the 20th century) but did not gain acceptance until the late 1950s or early 1960s. So how were continents defined before then?<

Bingley!!! Just when I thought someone had finally managed to explain it all to my satisfaction.... (sigh)


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