Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Nothing That Is

Many years ago I read a book by Robert Kaplan, The Nothing That Is.  It is a history of the number zero (or not, depending if you class zero as a valid number).  I found it fascinating to realise how important 'nothing' is: I just hadn't thought about it.  Imagine being paid £10 instead of £1000 - those zeros don't half make a difference!

Anyway, I have just come across Null Island.  I've obviously known of its geographical location for decades, 0 deg latitude, 0 deg longitude.  A geodesist's nirvana (and still somewhere I wish to visit).  I hadn't realised that it actually exists.
OK, depending how gullible you're feeling, it actually only exists in the world of GIS and cartography.  The article on the US Library of Congress site explains why.  This article also references this wonderful piece of geo research showing all the other 0,0 coordinates in the world.  OK, these are not geographical coordinates but grid coordinates.  So, for example, you can see 0m Easting and 0m Northing for the UK National Grid just southwest off the Isles of Scilly.  But it's a delight for a geek like me.

Back to Null Island.  Some wag has created a website for Null Island here.  It's brilliant, covering the flag, economy, how to get there (contact West African shipping), its love of taro and even a news page.  The joke on 04 December is wonderful.  Nothing really is sacred after all.

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