In the 1958 “Have Space Suit, Will Travel,” Robert Heinlein‘s teenaged hero is captured by aliens while wandering around his neighbourhood in a refurbished space suit.
If that seems like an unlikely plot contrivance, just wait. The teenager then uses his knowledge of solar system distances, possible/probable spaceship speeds, and the gravity he experienced aboard the ship to figure out (correctly) where they have likely ended up, when their trip does end.
When I read this juvenile novel as a juvenile, I remember being mightily impressed by this feat of knowledge, memory, and mental calculation. Not so impressed to prepare myself to go out and do likewise, you understand, but impressed enough to feel inadequate about not so doing.
And impressed enough to remain interested in the general area of taking my understanding of my neighbourhood to the next level.
Today, as post #888, I share 25 maps of the world published by List 25 back in 2013. They are USA-centric, but they still offer new perspectives on our planetary ‘hood.
Thanks! Great video of overwhelming facts!
Judith – It’s funny how finding the right visual representation makes all the difference. “Get it at a glance” is the target, too often missed.
That was fascinating, Isabel. Seeing the map of the highest paid jobs in each of the states of the U.S. makes my annoyed once again at the fact that when genes were passed around the athletic ones missed me…which makes me ask: Is it possible that there were two parallel streams of the origin of life – sponges and comb jellies – and one was missing the athletic pieces, and that’s the tribe from which I come?
Tom – I don’t know, but I think you raise a point of significant scientific merit. I suggest you send a note to the lead researchers soonest, so they can start working on this angle.
May I recommend a book, called How Maps Change Everything, by Ward Kaiser. (It might be available on line, from Wood Lake Publications — try email@example.com) Kaiser plays with a whole bunch of map configurations to show how they influence our perceptions of reality. Such as, on most Mercator projections, that the island of Greenland and the entire continent of Africa are of similar size.
Jim – Yes, I remember being quite surprised to discover how small Europe is: part of the same distortion. It would be OK if these distortions were obvious, but they aren’t, at least not to the uninitiated. On a similar note, a friend pointed out that Dubai isn’t an exotic, distant locale unless you’re coming from North America. For pretty much everywhere else, it’s central.
I wonder if anyone has studied the effect of sci-fi on the space industry, starting, say, with Jules Verne. The assumptions in some quadrants of society that space exploration is moral, necessary, natural, justifiable, important, etc. must to some greater or lesser extent rest on the imaginations of Heinlein, Roddenberry, and the dozens of other writers who have made space travel seem to pass muster on all such scales of values. Despite my devotion to the genre, I think that credibility gap has never been thoughtfully examined. The mess we humans have deposited in space beggars the cleanup managed by Wavy Gravy and the Hog Farm during and after Woodstock. It seems to me we have plenty to do on the planet before polluting its surroundings. I suppose it’s the irresistible urge of some to control earth from the moon, but at this rate of displaced priorities, I can’t help wondering what will be left to control.
Laurna – You make a good point. I loved science fiction as a teenager and young adult and still read it from time to time. But the impact of less than a standard gravity on the body should give us pause (osteoporosis for sure, infertility maybe), not to mention the points you raise.
Isabel – as you say, the maps provided are USA-centric. Several of them are outright incorrect. #19 implies that Canada was invaded by England. I guess to the Americans that means they are siding with the French and/or they agree with our current um, ah PM with respect to the indigenous inhabitants of Canada at the time the English and the French arrived.
#5 overlooks HMCS Bonaventure and HMCS Magnificent, both Canadian aircraft carriers.
John – Well, there you go. Maybe you should start a series that corrects this series . . .
I’m retired and plan to stay that way.
John – A wise choice, I expect. If we start trying to fix the internet, we’ll never be finished, not even to all intents and purposes (to mix the comments on two posts . . . ).