Stunning stuff!

When I’m at the beach, gazing at the ocean, I start thinking about the people I know on the other side of it. I imagine looking all the way across the Atlantic to my friends in Europe when I’m on the Jersey shore, or trying to see to Japan across the Pacific from California.

But it turns out this is impossible — not because my eyesight is weak, but because my geography is totally wrong. When I stand and face the Atlantic in New Jersey, it turns out I’m actually looking toward South America, or maybe Africa, but definitely not Europe.

Vox then goes on to explain that what you are looking at depends upon which direction you are looking in.

Stunning finding, isn’t it?

16 thoughts on “Stunning stuff!”

  1. well, I reckon few people realise how far north europe is versus the US – I remember being surprised to find New York roughly level with Madrid

  2. Hmm, wait just a minute.

    Has this been proved by experts? The University of Sheffield? UAE?

    Because I’m not at all sure I’ll believe it until then…

  3. Edinburgh, at 55° 57′, and positively balmy when it isn’t pissing it down, is considerably to the North of the generally freezing Halifax, Nova Scotia, at a mere 44° 51′.

  4. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Miami is south of Cairo, Washington is south of Naples, Edinburgh is west of Bristol and on the same latitude as Moscow. The most northerly point in the coterminous United States is south of the most southerly point in the British Isles*. The Pacific entrance to the Panamá canal is east of the Caribbean one. I live further south than Trinidad and Tobago, as well as non-trivial chunks of Colombia and Venezuela, despite Costa Rica being in Central America and the others in South America. Amsterdam, Berlin and Warsaw are north of London. Cork is west of Marrakesh. And so on…

    * Guernsey doesn’t count.

  5. I’ve just been on Castle Street in Liverpool. It didn’t really matter whether I turned North, South, East or West, all I could see was skirt coming from the races. Maybe I have just misunderstood the point of the article. Maybe the author has too.

  6. “Guernsey doesn’t count.”

    Quite right: if using “British Isles” as a geographical expression, the Channel Isles should be excluded, and Man and Ireland included.

  7. Fascinating by BiCR. I have only one like that in my memory, that the southernmost tip of India is above the equator.

  8. Manages to misunderstand great circles, too.

    “The second part is a bit more complicated, but it explains why, if you could swim in a perfectly straight line from the coastline, you might not hit the land you think you will.”

    A great circle is a straight line. It’s just that it’s a straight line on a curved surface, so on a flat map it’s a curve. If you go straight ahead (on/following the earth’s surface), you’ll follow a great circle path.

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    When I stand and face the Atlantic in New Jersey, it turns out I’m actually looking toward South America, or maybe Africa, but definitely not Europe.

    If you stand in the right part of the far south of New Jersey perhaps. Atlantic City is on the same line of whatsyoucallit as somewhere in the middle of Spain. Toledo perhaps.

    It would be hard to look towards Latin America. But if you looked directly east, you are going to hit Europe.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    Dave – “Manages to misunderstand great circles, too.”

    Let me guess, it is because he hates Jews, right?

  11. “Looking at” is a strange way of putting it, because in a straight line you’re looking out into space, the earth being roughly spherical.

    Having said that: the east coast of the USA slopes roughly NNE to SSW – Miami is a fair way west of Boston. So on average, if you went straight out to sea on a great circle route, you’d end up in Africa.

    Also, if you start off in the northern hemisphere going due east on a great circle route, you curve south.

  12. I play a lot bridge at various clubs.

    Always upsets me when the Director places table North in any direction other than geographic North.

    Always feels wrong.

  13. Even on a 2D Mercartor map, it seems pretty obvious that if you’re standing on the east coast of the US, you’re facing northern Africa.

  14. Doesn’t it rather depend on whether you’re using constant bearing or great circles to navigate?

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