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It's the day before a holiday so Breakfast Bytes goes completely off-topic as usual. Last time, the Friday before Memorial Day, we went with figures of speech. This time, let's go with maps and geography.
Let's see how good your sense of the world is with a few questions:
I'll answer those later so that the answers aren't staring you in the face directly below the questions.
In the meantime, here are some other geographic facts that I think are surprising.
Everyone knows Africa is big. But because it crosses the equator and so is in the middle of the Mercator projection of the world that we are all used to, it doesn't look as big as it is. On a Mercator projection, Greenland and Africa appear the same size. But Africa is actually 14 times as big.
In fact, it turns out that we can fit much of the world into Africa, it is just enormous. Here is a map showing Africa with India, China, Japan, Europe, and the US inside. The map was created by Kai Krause in the 1980s.
Brazil also crosses the equator, so you probably don't realize just how big it is. In fact, Brazil is bigger than the US excluding Alaska (3.28M square miles versus 3.13M square miles).
If you add Alaska back in, then the US is bigger...because Alaska is really big. As the song says:
Texas always seemed so bigBut you know you're in the largest state in the unionWhen you're anchored down in Anchorage
Or, more graphically:
If you go East from Silicon Valley to Europe, where do you end up?
Europe is a lot further North than you think. Chicago is the same latitude as Rome. Edinburgh is north of Edmonton. San Jose is the same latitude as Sicily, the southernmost part of Italy, or even Tunisia, the northernmost part of Africa. For example, San Jose is latitude 37.33, and the northernmost point of Tunisia is also 37.36. So going east from San Jose, you just scrape into Africa when you get to that part of the world.
If you go due South from Atlanta, GA, which is the first South American country you hit?
South America is a lot further East than you think. So it's actually a trick question. If you go south from Atlanta, you miss South America completely...to the west.
You go through the Panama Canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic. What direction (compass-bearing) are you going?
North-west. Although it seems that going from Pacific to Atlantic would be going east or at least east-ish, the Panama isthmus runs roughly east-west and the canal runs from south to north, but actually cuts back and is running almost exactly north-west.
What are the northernmost, southernmost, easternmost, and westernmost states of the US?
Southernmost is Hawaii (Ka Lae aka South Point, on the Big Island). Northernmost is Alaska (Point Barrow). Westernmost is Alaska (the Aleutian Islands). And if you use the right definition, easternmost is also Alaska since the Aleutian Islands go all the way to longitude 172° East. Or if you want to do it the boring way, it's Maine (West Quoddy Head). The northernmost point of the lower 48 states is Minnesota, where Angle Inlet is the only place in the lower 48 that is north of the 37th Parallel dividing the US from Canada (by just 23 minutes of arc).
What is the westernmost point of mainland Britain?
Nope, it's not Land's End in Cornwall. It's actually Ardnamurchan Point in Scotland, at the end of the Ardnamurchan peninsula.
When my parents lived in Bath, in the West of England, and I was a postgraduate at Edinburgh University on the east coast of Scotland, people were always surprised when I pointed out that I would be going west when I drove back to school after a break. Britain doesn't run due north-south but is tilted over a little.
And while we are in Scotland, the northernmost point of mainland Britain is not John O'Groats but Dunnet Head a few miles to the west.
A couple of years ago, I did one of these off-topic posts What You See Isn't Always What You Get on optical illusions. Here's one I just came across recently. All the balls in this image are the same color, brown.
You didn't believe me, did you?
Have a great 4th of July if you are in the US. Breakfast Bytes will be back on July 8. If you're not in the US, have a great day anyway. Probably with fewer hot dogs.
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