According to the BBC, “European ship designers are currently working on what is billed as the “most advanced polar research vessel in the world” appropriately called the Aurora Borealis. They will use an advanced GPS system but are undecided between the European Galileo system, the Russian Glosnass or American GPS system. Many people might not realize how extensive and accessible Antartica research is for all types of fields and where it can lead you. The U.S. NSF Polar Program not only uses scientists and science assistants but also field support workers, military personnel, the media, and even writers in residence. Germany and some other countries have comparable programs. 2007-2008 was USGS International polar year and they have some cool maps and pictures on their site. In fact, they have a new satellite map which they think will revolutionize Antartic research and is available free to the public. If you go, don’t expect to be warm or to be an old-fashioned adventurer since the NSF said that is the only thing they don’t need.
By now, most people have read the very neat story from CNN via Mental Floss , Boing Boing and the Wall Street Journal about how regional silk escape maps were smuggled to WWII POWS in Germany using the game Monopoly. But how else were maps smuggled? On Map Forum, Debbie Hall covers Escape Maps of the World On the USAF Academy website they show how the real Stalag III smuggled maps in the lining of jackets. An archive of first person WWII stores in the BBC recounts a soldier’s use of one.The virtual WWII Museum shows how something as small as a button concealed compasses. Omnimap actually sells unused WWII silk escape maps for about $20.00. The silk escape maps inspired this IT guy to make a million selling silk travel scarves. And on Ebay some orignal silk escape scarves are selling for $300 dollars or more.
Keeping in the spirit of anyday gifts here is a neat $100 13 foot x 18 foot world map mural that shows “Major cities, World Time Zone, Land Elevation and Distances, Up-to-Date Political Boundaries, Ocean Depths & Shipping Lane, Nautical Miles/ Longitude & Latitude ” I think it might be the same one used here in this map themed bedroom Notice how the laminated map takes up the whole wall and kids can write on it with grease pens. Of course, you could laminate your own maps and use them the same way.
Finding the license plate map of the U.S.A made me want to look up another great nostalgic geo gift: souvenier map tea towels. Here are some recent tea towel maps of Australia, and for a twist here is a site with vintage map tea towels and tableclothes! I tried to locate information on how much their worth to collectors, but I guest the value is all in the memories. Here is a place that will make your own “bespoke” tea towel but I’m sure someone bright could figure out how to make one on a plotter. Jon Kelley’s Voxword blog has a funny blog about the British obsession with the souvenier map tea towel.
It seems like once you start looking geo gifts are everywhere. Here is a topology ring which “encircle the finger like hills and valleys circumnavigating the globe” also in the topography theme is a torquise ring which looks like “any given segment of a topographical map”. I don’t know how much they really resembe topography, but it shows that the idea of geography is romantic enough for jewelry. Maybe it conjures up images of travel. There is also a cool map of the U.S. made up of license plates from each state.
Lady Bird Johnson is known for wildflowers and nature but the The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was one of the first centers to use GIS for education, wildflower placement, and other activites.
Several articles in the BBC wrap up GIS related posts that were made earlier in this blog. The first is scientists tracking walrus migration using satellite tags. Over the past several months, the BBC has kept an on-line journal and map highlighting the adventures of scientists “in the wild”. The best quote is, “One year, we were in west Greenland trying to find walruses. We were amongst the ice-packs when the wind suddenly changed and we got stuck in the ice. We sat there for two weeks until the wind changed back, by which time we had to return back to port.”
Another type of migration taking place is the largest replica Viking ship is sailing to the British Isles from Norway. Unlike the original Vikings who navigated by the stars, the ship is using Satellite navigation equipment
If you haven’t ever heard of this really fantastic story of the “friendly floaties” you need to check it out. Oceanographers have been tracking the bathtub toys for over fifteen years, using it to predict then prove many theories about currents. Wikipedia sums it up succinctly, “Seattle oceanographers Curtis Ebbesmeyer and James Ingraham, who were working on an ocean surface current model, began to track their progress. The mass release of 29,000 objects into the ocean at one time offered significant advantages over the standard method of releasing 500Ã¢â‚¬â€œ1000 drift bottles. The recovery rate of objects from the Pacific Ocean is typically around 2%, so rather than the 10 to 20 recoveries typically seen with a drift bottle release, the two scientists expected numbers closer to 600. ” I found two kid’s books about the floating ducks (why not the turtles or the beaver?) One is written from a plastic ducks point of view called DUCKY by Eve Bunting. Another is written by an author I love called 10 LITTLE RUBBER DUCKS by Eric Carle, who also wrote The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
The UK Daily Mail is reporting on an advertisement that can only be seen from the air by passengers flying at Gatwick airport. It brings up many spatial rights and use issues since the town is fining the company that created it while they maintain, “We are operating quite within our rights. We produce adverts that are only visible by people in the air. If the council own the rights to the airspace then we would be happy to hear from them,” he said. Large companies like unilever have used the company to create similiar ads.