Although for many of us, except for a few who still embrace the idea that the world may be flat, the basic geographical outline of the Earth is more or less clear. And with today's technology, we are able to use maps in a host of new ways to do everything from exploring other planets to mapping out enjoying 3D images of our own planet.
Some of us have the faint memory of watching one of our favorite cartoon characters digging underneath the ground for hours and hours and turning up in another country. Our imaginations allowed us to suspend our disbelief, of course. For many Americans, for example, they grew up believing that China would be the destination (There must be an interesting set of subconscious ideas that go into deciding which country that would be, psychologists may agree).
Now, there is an interactive map that allows users to understand where they would you wind up if they dug through the earth is now available. Named Antipodes Map, it builds on the geographical concept of the antipode, which is defined as "the point on the Earth's surface which is diametrically opposite to it".
Modeled after OpenStreetMap, it allows you to enter your location, and based on the coordinates, within seconds a new spot on the globe is generated.
Unfortunately for me, a quick search performed during a trip to Istanbul, Turkey came up with a spot located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Antipode City Pairs
In their work on the project, it looks like there are 16 exact, or almost exact, antipode city pairs on Earth. It's also interesting to note that six of those pairs include Spain and New Zealand.
For the brave souls who would like to see where they would end up, the map experience can be tried out here. If the project continues to be a success, plans will be made to expand the map's capabilities to accomodate an increased number of users.
Incidentally, the South Pacific, not China, lies on the other side of the US.
For now, the service is free, but loading the map more than 50,000 times in 24 hours could lead to some delays. They also caution against heavy usage, which they define as one request per second, although it's hard to imagine when such a scenario would occur.
Pushing Geographical Boundaries
As the world continues to get smaller, thanks to the rapid advances in technology which are bringing all of us an unprecedented level of connectivity, encouraging an endless curiosity about geography is a vital part of the process. This mission is at the heart of Antipodes Map. As the people at Google Earth explain in a statement:
"The world is ever changing. We want to adapt education to encourage exploration, inquiry, and engagement. Through outreach, community, and collaboration we strive to enable immersive experiences that brings the world inside the classroom, inspiring innovation and the next generation of explorers."
This means that, going forward, we will have to leave behind some of those geographical myths from the cartoons and embrace a new reality.