Member 83
49 entries

Xárene Eskandar
Los Angeles, US
Immortal since Apr 4, 2007
Uplinks: 0, Generation 1

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    left side, right side, upside down
    I was looking at a map today and an other one of those odd sixth grade questions suddenly hit me: Why is the planet oriented the way it is: Americas on the left... Oceania on the lower right? Why did we determine the planet's rotation to be counter-clockwise? Where did "counter-clockwise" come from? The clock's rotation could be the other way.

    In space, there really isn't an up and down to the solar system—what we call up could be down and visa versa for all I care. In that case left is right and east is west and upside down is right-side up. We can look at it at an angle too. Then none of our directional conventions make sense. Maybe I need an astronomy class (and astrology)...

    This simple determination of the direction of all things, by someone(s) at some point has lead to so many complex socio-cultural models which have shaped our perception and minds, and in return, which we apply to almost everything and anything, anywhere. Narrow I'd say.

    How would a change in perception evolve in a space colony if these directions are nulled and everything is in constant movement, in all directions? What will that society be like? How will their minds work when they don't have these trite, earthly limitations?

    I'll come back to this...

    Lewis Carroll's map of the ocean:

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    folkert     Tue, Jul 10, 2007  Permanent link
    Indeed a peculiar situation. Apparently, the north=up convention came a few centuries ago when European navigators started using the North star and the magnetic compass. Before that, the top of the map was to the East which is where the word orientation comes from.

    Simultaneously, I think that emerging societies would need conventions like these, otherwise local (let alone global) organization would be impossible. I agree that it seems confined, but it is also simply a set of restrictions necessary to create a functioning civilization. And yeah, outer space will need an entirely new set of conventions to begin to map the territory which I would think are being put into place by the early explorers, like those Northern hemispherians did on Earth a couple hundred years ago.

    meganmay     Tue, Jul 10, 2007  Permanent link
    It's interesting how stuck we get in certain modes of perception - at my scale, I'm convinced that as i sit, just chilling in this chair desk chair I'm not moving very much at all BUT IN FACT I am moving at !!! 1040 miles/hr !!! around the Earth's central axis. On top of that, I'm revolving around the sun at 30 km/sec, and the solar system i inhabit is moving around the galaxy at 250 km/sec. Of course, we can't neglect to consider the rate at which our galaxy is moving in the local group of galaxies, 300 km/sec. AND IF WE CRASH BACK DOWN TO EARTH to notice the atoms and molecules moving at top speed just to hold each human body together, my previous notion of stillness is thrown up and my mind marvels at its extrapolated perception, and it's habitual ignorance. We're so convinced that we're contained in these bodies, mostly impenetrable, when in fact we're just a fluid process of matter in constant motion. BUT this is quickly becoming something else. End of transmission.
    folkert     Tue, Jul 10, 2007  Permanent link
    Megan—yeah that is crazy realization, every time I have it. I think that's what's happening in (mostly recent) human evolutionary progress—the expansion of conscioussness is like waking up during open heart surgery...all this insane stuff is happening and we're only now dimly but surely beginning to see parts of the alarmingly unstable environment we are in. Funtimes.
    Xarene     Thu, Jul 12, 2007  Permanent link
    We will have some convention of mapping, but I don't think it should be based off of such fixed points and locations as the poles and such, but three-dimensional systems indicating relativity to other very known points. ie the distance/elevation between you and me, only with regards to you and me and nothing else, no north and east and streets. What amused me in looking at a map (and the planet) in different angles was thinking about things such as timezones and season getting shifted.

    Megan, when I zoom into my body and think about the individual organisms running the whole, it actually freaks me out. I start thinking of them as little creatures with their own minds running around doing whatever they want and I have no say in it other than to hope they don't turn against me or screw up in their tasks.
    nina     Sun, Dec 9, 2007  Permanent link
    In my room, i've got a map I bought in Japantown. Japan is centered. The continent placement is arbitrary as far as cartographers are concerned, and no matter how they place the stuff, people will still speculate. Only disappointing aspect is, the damn rectangular convention is shamelessly inaccurate, though admittedly preferable to that choppy unintuitive orange peel design.

    I wonder how messed up my macro sense of space and distance is because of looking at wacky maps all my life? :P

    IMO, If you want to overcome all the nonsense, buy a glass globe and a concave platform with airjets, constantly rotating the globe as it hovers above the platform.