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Remapping the Present

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The world is only as large as our voices can carry across it. The invention of the telegraph in the 1840s shrank the world; by 1858 the first telegraph cable across the Atlantic meant stockbrokers in New York could track the price of gold in London. Imagine how different the world today would be if news of events in other countries took weeks to reach you, then discuss with your team: was the telegraph the Internet of the 1800s?

The idea behind the telegraph – sending electric signals across wires – originated in the early 1700s, and by 1798 a rough system was used in France. New York University professor Samuel Morse began working on his version of the telegraph in 1832; he developed Morse Code in 1835; and by1838 he had presented his concept to the U.S. Congress. He was not the first to think of the idea – 62 people claimed this invention – but Morse beat everyone by being the first to get political backing and a business model. It was hard to convince people of innovation. When Morse offered to sell his telegraph to the U.S. government for $100,000, the postmaster general rejected the offer.

In 1843, Morse built a telegraph system from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore with the financial support of Congress. On May 24, 1844, the first message, “What hath God wrought?” was sent. The telegraph spread very quickly. Western Union built its first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861. At first, telegraph messages were transmitted by trained code users, but in 1914 a form of automatic transmission was developed. This made the message transmission much faster.

When the first transatlantic cable was built from England to the United States and President Buchanan and Queen Victoria exchanged messages in 1858, a writer for the Times of London raved: “Tomorrow the hearts of the civilized world will beat in a single pulse, and from that time forth forevermore the continental divisions of the earth will, in a measure, lose those conditions of time and distance which now mark their relations.”


At the turn of the 20th century, all long-distance communication depended heavily on the telegraph.   It is estimated that between 1857 and 1867, Western Union’s value grew by 11,000 percent. In 1866, its network included about 100,000 miles of wire and its capital stock value was in excess of $40 million. 


Prior to the telegraph, communication in the 1830s was about the same as it had been in the years just after Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. It took days, weeks, and even months for messages to be sent from one location to a far-flung position. After the telegraph cable was stretched from coast to coast in the 1850s, a message from London to New York could be sent in mere minutes, and the world suddenly became much smaller. By the 1850s, predictions about the impact of the new medium began to abound. The telegraph would alter business and politics. It would make the world smaller, erase national rivalries and contribute to the establishment of world peace. It would make newspapers obsolete.

Travelers used to buy maps at the bookstore or gas station. Now, they debate whether Apple Maps or Google Maps offers better directions. (Or, if you’re in Korea, Kakao or Naver; or if you’re in Russia, Yandex or Yandex.) But maps as a rigorous way of imagining the world around us haven’t been around very long at all. Consider the career of Inō Tadataka, who at age 55 set out on a quest to walk all around Japan, measuring and mapping it. It took decades, but his map, published in 1821, was remarkably accurate. Check out these other early map examples, many of which were less accurate. What led maps to improve so much by the 20th century?

Inō Tadataka was 55 years old when he set out to methodically survey the entire coastline of Japan, a task he would spend the next 17 years of his life completing. During the latter part of the Edo period (1603–1868), geographical surveyor Inō Tadataka (1745–1818) set to work charting the coastline of Japan, a mammoth undertaking that consumed the last decades of his life. Inō would die at the age of 73, before seeing his life’s work completed in the form of a map of the nation based on his survey activities. But he is recognized as the first person to survey the entirety of Japan using modern scientific techniques. His collection of highly accurate maps served as the basis of the mapmaking efforts of the modern Meiji government.


He loved learning math, astronomy all his life and at the age of 49, Inō stepped down as family head, turned the business over to his son. Shortly after retiring, he became the pupil of Takahashi Yoshitoki, a leading astronomer of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate who had been tasked with revising the Japanese calendar. Takahashi was well versed in Chinese and Western astronomy, and under his tutelage, Inō mastered the use of celestial bodies to fix his geographical position, a vital skill that enabled him to methodically survey vast areas of land. Following his apprenticeship, Inō set about to determine the size of the earth, a task that would first require him to work out the span of one degree of meridian arc. At the very least, Inō would need to measure the distance between Edo and the northern island of Hokkaidō, then called Ezo, if he hoped to come up with a usable figure.

He did a 6 month trip to Ezo and his work pleased the shogunal leaders.  By the time of his second outing, he had achieved his goal of measuring one degree of latitude, which he determined from his earlier measurements was 28.2 ri, or

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110.75 kilometers. Over the next two years, Inō completed his survey of eastern Japan, charting the Japan Sea side of northern Honshū in 1802 and the central part of the island in 1803. He presented the fruits of his labor to the shōgun Tokugawa Ienari, spreading the maps out in a reception hall inside Edo Castle. The detailed charts impressed the ruler to such a degree that he made Inō a retainer and ordered him to survey the western reaches of the country, with the costs of the endeavor to be fully financed by the central government. In all, Inō spent a total of 17 years surveying Japan, walking tens of thousands of kilometers in the process. 

He determined his latitude to an impressive degree of accuracy by observing the meridian altitude of fixed stars and then comparing the figures with readings from known points along the route and in Edo.  However,  poor weather conditions during events and the lack of a portable time piece severely hampered his ability to coordinate data among the different observation points, lowering the longitudinal accuracy of his maps. Nevertheless, the Ino maps were incredible, a meticulously drawn series of charts rendered in large (1:36,000), middle (1:210,000), and small (1:430,000) scales. Unfortunately, all the official copies of his maps were lost in a Imperial Palace fire. Later officials collected the works from his home, but they were also lost in the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake. Luckily, there were some maps which were gifted to private citizens which are now prized as cultural relics. More recently, the observance of the 200th anniversary of Inō’s first surveying expedition in 2001 and his death in 2018 were marked by a variety of events and lectures to celebrate this great cartographer.

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8. Eratosthenes' Map. Eratosthenes is known as the “father of geography” and is credited with inventing the discipline and coining the terminology still used today. Eratosthenes was not only a geographer, but he was also a mathematician and astronomer which helped him create a more detailed and accurate world map. 

During his time as chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria, Eratosthenes wrote a three-volume work titled Geography.  He described and mapped the entire known world and divided the Earth into five climate zones.


Eratosthenes was also the first person to place grids over his map and used parallels and meridians to link together every place in the world. His map also featured over 400 cities and their accurate locations, which had never been done before.

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7.  Hecataeus’ Map. Hecataeus of Miletus was the first known Greek historian and geographer. Hecataeus lived in the same city as Anaximander, who is credited with creating the first world map. However, they did not live at the same time but Hecataeus was inspired by Anaximander’s work and added improvements to his world map. 

Hecataeus’ version of the world map was more detailed and accompanied by a book called the Periodos ges. The book was a comprehensive work on the known geography of Europe, Asia, and Africa at the time.

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6.  Anaximander’ Map. The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher  Anaximander is often credited with being the first person to publish a map of the world. Unlike earlier maps — which featured roads, towns, and other geological features — Anaximander chose to show all of the inhabited lands known to the ancient Greeks.

In this way, Anaximander’s map was the first world map.

No copy of Anaximander’s map exists but there are written records that describe in detail what the map depicted. The map shows what was known of Europe, Asia, and Libya (the name given to the region of Africa that was known at the time), the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Nile, Lake Maeotis, and the Phasis River.

5.  Babylonian Map of the World. The map is circular and features two outer defined circles. The center of the map shows the Euphrates river flowing from north to south and the city of Babylon is shown along the river. Some of the other cities shown on the map include Uratu, Susa (the capital of Elam), Assyria, and Habban. The map also shows a mountain, the ocean (labeled as “bitter river”), as well as unknown outer regions beyond the Ocean.

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4. Turin Papyrus Map. The Turin Papyrus Map is widely considered the oldest existing topographical map from the ancient world. The map was created around 1160 BCE and due to diligent ancient Egyptian record keeping, researchers know who drew the map and what it was for. The map was drawn by a well-known scribe Amennakhte and prepared for Ramesses IV, who wanted to quarry the Wadi Hammamat in the Eastern Desert, to build himself a statue. The Turin Papyrus Map is also the earliest known geological map because it showed the local distribution of different rock types, the diverse wadi gravels, and contained information on quarrying and mining.

3. Abauntz Lamizulo Rock Map. This believed to be the oldest map ever found in Western Europe. The rock was initially discovered in 1994 but it took researchers about 15 years (2009) to decipher the meaning of the etched lines. According to the research team led by Pilar Utrilla from the University of Zaragoza in Spain, “All of these engravings could be a sketch or a simple map of the area around the cave. It could represent the plan for a coming hunt or perhaps a narrative story of one that had already happened.”

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2. Lascaux Cave Star Map. According to German researcher Dr. Michael Rappenglueck of the University of Munich, some of dots in the area of the paintings known as the Shaft of the Dead Man correspond with constellations such as Taurus, the Pleiades, and the Summer Triangle. Another researcher, Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez, believes that the Great Hall depicts an extensive star map with key points on major figures corresponding to stars in the main constellations from the Paleolithic. Given the theory that Lascaux was created for religious ceremony, it is likely.

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1. Mammoth Tusk Map. The mammoth tusk map from the village of Pavlov in the Czech Republic is believed to be the oldest known map in the world. While archaeologists aren’t completely sure, the markings on the tusk may have depicted the landscape of Pavlov at the time. Researchers also think that the mammoth tusk was used as a hunting map. The curved markings are thought to represent the Dyje (Thaya) river. 

Even improved, maps were still flat, and the Earth is spherical—and there is no perfect way to squash a 3D object into a 2D one without distorting it. (Please don’t try this on a teammate.) Read about some common projection types listed below, then discuss with your team: which looks more like how you imagine the world? Which one should we use in schools—and in what ways could our choice of map affect how we understand the world?

Map or globe? Which one helps us view the world better? What kind of map from 3D to 2D distorts our perspectives the least?  Globes have many advantages, but also some disadvantages.


   1. impractical for large-scale mapping

   2. difficult to measure

   3. challenging to see the entire world at once 

   4. less portable compared to folding maps.


  1. Accurate representation: A globe accurately represents the Earth’s curved surface without any distortions in area, shape, distance, direction, or scale. 

  2. True spatial relationships: A globe allows for a better understanding of the spatial relationships.

  3. Better visualization of Earth’s geometry: A globe helps users visualize the Earth’s round shape. Easier to comprehend latitude, longitude, the Earth’s axis, and the rotation that causes day and night.

  4. Improved perspective: A globe offers a more realistic perspective of the Earth, helping users appreciate the actual size and position of landmasses and oceans.

  5. Consistent scale: A globe has a constant scale throughout its entire surface.

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map projection is a method used to represent the Earth’s three-dimensional, curved surface onto a two-dimensional plane, such as a piece of paper or a digital screen. Since the Earth is not flat, map projections inevitably introduce some distortions in area, shape, distance, direction, or scale. It is important to note that it is impossible to create a map projection that preserves both area and shape simultaneously.

  1. Area-preserving projection – Also called equal area or equivalent projection, these projections maintain the relative size of different regions on the map.

  2. Shape-preserving projection – Often referred to as conformal or orthomorphic, these projections maintain accurate shapes of regions and local angles.

  3. Direction-preserving projection – This category includes conformal, orthomorphic, and azimuthal projections, which preserve directions, but only from the central point for azimuthal projections.

  4. Distance-preserving projection – Known as equidistant projections, they display the true distance between one or two points and all other points on the map.

Distortion on a map can be visualized using the Tissot’s Indicatrix. Using graduated circles, the amount of distortion is shown relative to the other areas of the map.

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The primary categories of map projections include:

1. Cylindrical Projections: These projections involve wrapping a cylinder around the Earth and projecting its features onto the cylindrical surface. Examples are the Mercator, Transverse Mercator, and Miller Cylindrical projections. The downsides of cylindrical map projections are that they are severely distorted at the poles. Transverse mercator changes the direction of the cylinder for north and south extent.

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2. Conic Projections: For these projections, a cone is placed over the Earth, and its features are projected onto the conical surface. Common examples are the Lambert Conformal Conic and Albers Equal-Area Conic projections.  Conic map projections are best suited for use as regional or hemispheric maps, but rarely for a complete world map. This projection is often used for thematic maps requiring accurate area representation, such as population density or land use.

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3. Azimuthal Projections: Also referred to as planar or zenithal projections, these use a flat plane that touches the Earth at a single point, projecting the Earth’s features onto the plane. Azimuthal Equidistant, Stereographic, and Orthographic projections are examples. The azimuthal map projection is angular- given three points on a map (A, B, and C) the azimuth from Point B to Point C dictates the angle someone would have to look or travel in order to get to A. Light paths in three different categories (orthographic, stereographic, and gnomonic) can also be used. Azimuthal maps are beneficial for finding direction from any point on the Earth using the central point as a reference.  This projection is frequently used for polar maps, where the center point represents the North or South Pole. This map projection is also commonly utilized for radio and telecommunications planning, as it accurately represents distances from a central point. 

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The Orthographic projection is a planar projection that represents the Earth as if viewed from an infinite distance, giving the appearance of a globe on a flat surface.

This projection is often used for artistic purposes and for visualizing the Earth from space, as it provides a unique, aesthetically pleasing perspective.


4. Pseudocylindrical Projections: These projections resemble cylindrical projections but employ curved lines instead of straight lines for meridians and parallels. The Sinusoidal, Mollweide, and Goode Homolosine projections are popular examples.  The Mollweide Projection (lower left) is frequently used for thematic maps, such as those illustrating global temperature patterns or population distribution. The Equal Earth map projection (upper right) was developed by contemporary cartographers Tom Patterson, Bernhard Jenny, and Bojan Šavrič in 2018 as a response to the increasing need for  accurately represents areas, especially in the context of global issues like climate change and deforestation. The National Geographic Society widely used the Robinson projection (lower right) for its world maps until 1998.

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Map projections can also be classified based on their properties:

  1. Equal-area (equivalent) projections: These projections preserve the correct proportions of areas, such as in the Albers Equal-Area Conic and Mollweide projections.

  2. Conformal (orthomorphic) projections: These projections maintain local angles and shapes, as seen in the Mercator and Lambert Conformal Conic projections.

  3. Equidistant projections: These projections retain true distances from one or two points to all other points, as in the Azimuthal Equidistant projection.

  4. Azimuthal projections: These projections preserve directions from a central point, including some conformal, orthomorphic, and azimuthal projections.

  5. Compromise projections: These projections attempt to balance various distortions inherent in map projections, such as the Robinson and Winkel Tripel projections.

The stereographic projection, also known as the planisphere projection or the azimuthal conformal projection, is a conformal map projection whose use dates back to antiquity. Like the orthographic projection and gnomonic projection, the stereographic projection is an azimuthal projection, and when on a sphere, also a perspective projection.

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The spherical form of the stereographic projection is usually expressed in polar coordinates:

The Lambert azimuthal equal-area projection is a particular mapping from a sphere to a disk. It accurately represents area in all regions of the sphere, but it does not accurately represent angles. It is named for the Swiss mathematician Johann Heinrich Lambert, who announced it in 1772. "Zenithal" being synonymous with "azimuthal", the projection is also known as the Lambert zenithal equal-area projection


The Mercator projection is a conformal cylindrical map projection presented by Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569. It became the standard map projection for navigation due to its ability to represent north as 'up' and south as 'down' everywhere while preserving local directions and shapes. However, as a result, the Mercator projection inflates the size of objects the further they are from the equator.


The Robinson projection was devised by Arthur H. Robinson in 1963 in response to an appeal from the Rand McNally company. Robinson published details of the projection's construction in 1974. The National Geographic Society (NGS) began using the Robinson projection for general-purpose world maps in 1988, but in 1998, NGS abandoned the Robinson projection for that use in favor of the Winkel tripel projection. The Robinson projection is neither equal-area nor conformal, abandoning both for a compromise for aesthetics.

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The Goode homolosine projection is a pseudocylindricalequal-area, composite map projection used for world maps. Normally it is presented with multiple interruptions. Its equal-area property makes it useful for presenting spatial distribution of phenomena. The projection was developed in 1923 by John Paul Goode to provide an alternative to the Mercator projection for portraying global areal relationships. 

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The Winkel tripel projection (Winkel III), a modified azimuthal map projection of the world, is one of three projections proposed by German cartographer Oswald Winkel (7 January 1874 – 18 July 1953) in 1921. The projection is the arithmetic mean of the equirectangular projection and the Aitoff projection. The name tripel (German for 'triple') refers to Winkel's goal of minimizing three kinds of distortion: area, direction, and distance.

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AuthaGraph is an approximately equal-area world map projection invented by Japanese architect Hajime Narukawa in 1999. The map is made by equally dividing a spherical surface into 96 triangles, transferring it to a tetrahedron while maintaining area proportions, and unfolding it in the form of a rectangle: it is a polyhedral map projection. The projection does not have some of the major distortions of the Mercator projection, like the expansion of countries in far northern latitudes, and allows for Antarctica to be displayed accurately and in whole.


The Miller cylindrical projection is a modified Mercator projection, proposed by Osborn Maitland Miller in 1942. The latitude is scaled by a factor of 4⁄5, projected according to Mercator, and then the result is multiplied by 5⁄4 to retain scale along the equator.


A conformal map projection is one that preserves the correct shape of small areas. It is locally conformed at every point on the map, meaning that every small figure is nearly similar to its image on the map. The projection preserves the ratio of the two lengths in the small domain. It preserves the shape, but not the area. In a conformal projection, lines intersect at 90-degree angles, and at any point on the map, the scale is the same in all directions. 


Fifty years ago, if looking for a restaurant while traveling in an unfamiliar city, you might have checked your trusty travel guide—an industry that has suffered as more and more people now turn to crowd-sourced wisdom on services like Google Maps instead. But now even how to find things on the Internet is changing. For guidance, younger consumers are looking away from services such as Google Maps and Tripadvisor toward social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok. Current map apps, one Google executive has noted, are too much like paper maps that have been “stuck on the phone”; he urges the company to reimagine how and why maps should be used—not just for directions, but for sharing; not just for left and right turns, but for augmented reality revealing the actual buildings around you. Discuss with your team: are there ways that maps can mislead us? And what important new functions could map apps serve that they haven’t touched on yet?


Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan, who runs Google’s Knowledge & Information organization, shared that younger users were now often turning to apps like Instagram and TikTok instead of Google Search or Maps for discovery purposes. These users don’t tend to type in keywords but rather look to discover content in new, more immersive ways, he said. “In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search,” he continued. “They go to TikTok or Instagram.” That means all the work Google did over the years to organize, curate and recommend various businesses — such as local restaurants —  or its creation of discovery tools inside Google Maps — could be lost on these younger internet users. He pointed out that the young people coming online today had never seen a paper map (oof, way to make us feel old!), but maps products have been designed to look like a paper map that’s been “stuck on the phone.” This doesn’t meet younger users’ expectations and is the wrong experience to offer them, he said.  

Google has to contend with no longer being some users’ first stop when they’re looking to discover new places or information. This trend, in fact, was becoming so pronounced that the tech giant confirmed last fall it was working on deals that would allow it to index Instagram and TikTok videos in Search. For example, if you search how to change a tire on Google, it will now show you video results. And now, Google is able to use AI to analyze the parts of the video, so users can jump to the location where it explains how to loosen the lug nuts or raise the jack.  

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For most of history, we didn’t know what the world looked like. It was only in 1972 that astronauts on the final Apollo mission to the moon took the first photo of the entire Earth at once. This iconic “Blue Marble” image has been credited with helping to inspire the environmental movement and with disrupting traditional maps. Stripped of longitude and latitude, photos like the Blue Marble helped show how large Africa was, and how national borders were nowhere to be seen. Then, in 1990, the space probe Voyager sent back a photo of the Earth from across the solar system. It reduced our entire to a “pale blue dot”. The astronomer Carl Sagan hoped this image might humble us as a species. Read this excerpt from his work, then discuss with your team: do you think people would behave differently if they thought the Earth was larger, or if they didn’t know what it looked like from above and beyond?

December 7, 2022,  marks the 50-year anniversary of the Blue Marble photograph. The crew of NASA’s Apollo 17 spacecraft – the last manned mission to the Moon – took a photograph of Earth and changed the way we visualised our

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planet forever. Taken with a Hasselblad film camera, it was the first photograph taken of the whole round Earth and is believed to be the most reproduced image of all time.  

Photographs like Blue Marble are quite hard to capture. To see the Earth as a full globe floating in space, lighting needs to be calculated carefully. The sun needs to be directly behind you. Astronaut Scott Kelly observes that this can be difficult to plan for when orbiting at high speeds. Produced against a broader cultural and political context of the “space race” between the United States and the Soviet Union, the photograph revealed an unexpectedly neutral view of Earth with no borders.

In the pantheon of famous self-portraits, this one is less than a pixel – and it is us. The iconic photograph of planet Earth from distant space – the “pale blue dot” – was taken 30 years ago – Feb. 14, 1990, at a distance of 3.7 billion miles, by the NASA spacecraft Voyager 1 as it zipped toward the far edge of the solar system. The late Cornell astronomy professor Carl Sagan came up with the idea for the snapshot, and coined the phrase. “The Pale Blue Dot image shows our world as both breathtakingly beautiful and fragile, urging us to take care of our home,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor of astronomy and director of Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute.

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Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there, on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

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The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, Random House, 1994

Dr. Sagan was the Director of Cornell University’s Laboratory for Planetary Studies. He played a leading role in the American space program and was an adviser to NASA since its inception. He briefed the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon, and was an experimenter on the Mariner, Viking, Voyager, and Galileo expeditions to the planets. He helped solve the mysteries of the high temperatures of Venus (answer: massive greenhouse effect), the seasonal changes on Mars (answer: windblown dust), and the reddish haze of Titan (answer: complex organic molecules).

In space, no one can hear people scream about border disputes. The lines between countries vanish. But photos from orbit can reveal which parts of the world are less economically developed: they’re the ones that go dark at night. Discuss with your team: do images like these do more harm than good, by emphasizing the different levels of economic prosperity in different parts of the world? Can you think of any instances where a government might not want its people to know how its development compares to that in other parts of the world?

Night images of the earth gives a new dimension review of Africa’s poverty.  A global composite image, constructed using cloud-free night images from a new NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, satellite, shows the glow of natural and human-built phenomena across the planet in greater detail than ever before.

NASA used a new sensor, the day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, VIIRS, sensitive enough to


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detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth’s atmosphere and the light from a single ship in the sea to make its observations. NASA said its VIIRS, unlike a camera that captures a picture in one exposure, produces an image by repeatedly scanning a scene and resolving it as millions of individual pixels. Then, the VIIRS reviews the amount of light in each pixel. If it is very bright, a low-gain mode prevents the pixel from over saturating. If the pixel is very dark, the signal is amplified.

Evaluate Benjamin Franklin’s original proposal for Daylight Savings Time, as well as the modern controversy around it. Consider also the impact of time zones on health: for instance, it appears that people at the western end of time zones, where the sun sets later, sleep less than those to the east. Discuss with your team: are there ways we could change how we measure and keep track of time to improve human behaviour and other outcomes? Should more countries follow China’s lead and have just one very wide time zone—or more narrow ones?

The famous political leader and diplomat was also a scientist and the inventor of daylight savings time. In Paris in 1784, he wrote to the Journal of Paris (funny, since Paris is the City of Light!), "I went home, and to bed, three or four hours after midnight, with my head full of the subject. An accidental sudden noise waked me about six in the morning, when I was surprised to find my room filled with light; and I imagined at first, that a number of those lamps had been brought into it; but, rubbing my eyes, I perceived the light came in at the windows."  He describes how those hours could have been saved it he had gone to bed earlier and also gives the city of Paris an economical analysis in the amount of candles saved. 


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"I say it is impossible that so sensible a people, under such circumstances, should have lived so long by the smoky, unwholesome, and enormously expensive light of candles, if they had really known, that they might have had as much pure light of the sun for nothing."


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Around the world 70 countries participate in Daylight Savings Time, with notable exception of China and Japan, but even those that do, many people don't agree.  It was first introduced in Germany in 1916 during World War I as an energy saving measure, then the US in 1918. Daylight savings clock changes happen on the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November. This actually takes into account trick or treat for little kids and election voting for adults which happen in November.  


Americans don’t want to change the clocks but can’t agree on a solution.  While just 31% of Americans wanted to keep switching the clocks back and forth every year, the other roughly two-thirds of Americans were divided on what to do, according to an average of the three polls. There were 36% who wanted Daylight Saving Time all year around, the average of the polls found. Close by was the 30% who wanted standard time all year around. Two states that don't change their clocks are most of Arizona or all of Hawaii. But the law is, if you only do one time schedule, it has to be standard time. 


The US actually kept Daylight Saving Time permanent during most of World War II. The idea was put in place to conserve fuel and keep things standard. As the war came to a close in 1945, Gallup asked respondents how we should tell time. Only 17% wanted to keep what was then called “war time” all year. During the energy crisis of the 1970s, we tried permanent Daylight Saving Time again in the winter of 1973-1974. 


According to research published in 2019, in the Journal of Health Economics, living on the wrong side of a time zone can negatively affect how much sleep a person gets and lead to a decrease in their overall health. Specifically, the western side of a time zone – where the sun sets later than in the East. Why does that matter? Sunlight is a biological trigger, and when the sun goes down, the body releases the sleep-inducing melatonin hormone. With an earlier sunset, the body naturally becomes tired sooner, leading to an earlier bedtime. 


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The American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that those living in a later sunset area of a time zone go to bed an average of 19 minutes later than those in earlier sunset areas. Naturally, the western areas of time zones showed higher rates of health issues commonly associated with sleep deprivation. Those living in late-sunset areas were 11% more likely to be overweight and 21% more likely to be obese. Heart attack rates increased by 19%. There were even economic differences: tired people tend to be less productive, and wages were 3% lower in western areas of time zones.


China is a vast country, yet it has only one time zone, called Beijing Standard Time (BST), or China Standard Time (CST), which is Greenwich Mean Time, plus 8 hours (GMT+8). Though it used to consist of five time zones, the Communist government changed China to only one in the late 1949 to streamline operations and assert political unity.  China is the only large country besides India that only uses one time zone.

Beijing is 3.5 hours ahead of far western provinces.  Since many of the people in western provinces are ethnic minorities, they sometimes feel that the use of BST is oppressive and unnecessary. Additionally, many farming communities throughout the country just use their own times, since agricultural work has to be done when the sun is out, regardless of the official time. After the single time zone was introduced, China did use daylight savings time for a while, from 1986 to 1991, but it was considered inconvenient and dropped.

There may not be such a thing as a free lunch, but there are free rides to lunch. Every day, thousands of people sneak onto subway trains without paying any fare. Rather than delegate more police to enforcing the law, technology now allows new options, such as these two gates in Washington, DC., and this one in New York. Similarly, cars can now automatically stop people from driving too quickly. Discuss with your team: are there crimes that technology could eliminate that we should allow to keep happening?

In 2022, the Fort Totten Metrorail station in Washington DC, which serves both the Red and Green lines, is testing two new prototype fare gates to thwart fare evasion. One design resembles a swinging pair of saloon doors, and the other has

plastic half-discs on top to prevent gate hoppers from getting a handhold to launch a leap. 


“We’re not going to go system-wide until we collect data, and figure out what the return on investment on this is. We’re not gonna spend $100 million to collect $100 million,” Mr. Clarke told DCist. Some passengers are already on board with the new prototypes. “I think that will help because right now they can just step right through the ones we have now. So I think that’s going to deter a lot of people from fare jumping,” passenger Drew Fletcher told DC News Now.

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The MTA in New York is trying new high tech way to The idea behind the new fare gates was to give subway riders easier access to the stations.  But not this easy.  “We are learning. And I’m learning with our customers,” said Quemuel Arroyo, the MTA’s chief accessibility officer, and a senior advisor to the MTA chairman. He acknowledged an unintended drawback of the new high-tech sensor gates — now in use at four MTA transit hubs — is that many riders have figured out how to avoid paying. By cramming into the space behind the person in front of you, also known as ‘piggybacking,’ multiple people could get through on one fare. News4 saw plenty of that practice during the day at Sutphin Boulevard/Jamaica Station. 

Arroyo is the quarterback of the new $700,000 pilot program — with high-tech entry gates at Sutphin Blvd-JFK in Queens, Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Penn Station in Manhattan and Astoria Boulevard in Queens. Why those stations? They’re all connections to major transit hubs. And, since many riders are bringing big suitcases with them, the new fare gates are wider making it easy for people with luggage to get through. And despite the sight of farebeating, the MTA says so far, the gates have performed well.  “We have increased paid ridership at this station by 20%,” said Arroyo, speaking of the Sutphin gates — frequented by arriving JFK passengers. 

This pilot came months after a special panel found the MTA lost $500M to fare evaders in 2021 and $690M in 2022. A 38% increase. The panel’s main finding? “The fiscal losses caused by fare and toll evasion are staggering.“  Arroyo said to truly make a dent in farebeating, they need fare gates that aren’t yet available on the market. After all, the MTA has 473 subway stations. And they’ve committed $25 million to re-make the way the riding public gains access to the system. Right now there’s an RFI — a Request for Information — on best practices to solve the problem. 

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The European Commission has reached a provisional agreement that all new vehicles sold in Europe will be fitted with a speed limiter as a legal requirement from 6 July 2022. The 2019/2044 regulation also mandates all new cars that have already launched be fitted with an Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA) by 7 July 2024. It is hoped the use of speed limiters will help to reduce road accidents. The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) – which has been pushing for the mandatory speed limiters – has said the move will reduce collisions by 30%.

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While it hasn’t been decided, the UK will likely obey the new road safety regulations despite leaving the EU as even after Brexit, the UK has retained most EU laws for new cars. Using speed limiters successfully would also be a step forward in developing self-driving cars in the UK. The speed limiter technology, called Intelligent Speed Assistant (ISA) uses GPS data and/or traffic-sign-recognition cameras to determine the maximum speed allowed in an area. The system then limits the engine’s power and the vehicle’s speed to that limit. The speed limiter will send haptic, audio and visual warnings until you start driving within the speed limits. 

Various associations have pointed out that the warning signals for speeding can be annoying for the driver. To tackle this, manufacturers will have four options to choose from to alert the driver when they’re speeding:

1. The driver’s foot will be gently pushed back

2. The speed control system will automatically reduce the propulsion power, but you can override the system easily by pushing the pedal again

3. The driver will be sent a flashing visual signal to point out you’re speeding. If you continue to drive over the limit, an audio cue will be activated; if you ignore this as well, both visual and audio cues will be used after which both cues will time-out

4. Similar to the third option, the driver will first be sent a visual cue. If you ignore it, the pedal will vibrate. If you keep ignoring the combined signals, they will eventually time out

Some people have also questioned the reliability and accuracy of the ISA – drivers have instanced where their car’s sat-nav system glitched and incorrectly assumed that the driver has taken the exit off the motorway while the driver was still on it. In such a case, if the car signals you to reduce speed from 70 to 30 mph wouldn’t be helpful.

However, many cars have a top speed of over 70 mph, which makes it important to ensure that drivers adhere to the legal UK speed limits. A report by revealed there were 1,390 fatalities and 23,149 serious injuries reported due to road accidents between June 2020 - June 2021. So, maybe, ISA is a good idea.

A number of cities have tried making public transportation free—for instance, MelbourneLuxembourg, and Tallinn. How successful have these efforts been? Discuss with your team: if the objective is to drive people out of their cars, is it enough to make public transportation cheaper, or do governments need to make driving more expensive?

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Melbourne Australia is providing free public transportation on several lines in the city. Travel on trams in Melbourne's city centre is free. This is called the free tram zone.  Tourists can also enjoy the city for free through Melbourne's burgundy and gold City Circle Trams, which offer free travel to city sights and attractions, with audio commentary on points of interest along the route. For commuters, the city also offers free transport if the ride ends before 7:15 AM on weekdays. Children under 4 years old are also free.  Most tourists believe it is a great benefit. Free, safe, efficient and leads them to many of the cool city sights.  

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To curb its driving addiction, this small country is trying an ambitious idea: On Feb. 29, 2020, it became the first nation in the world to make all public transit entirely free at point of use. With the exception of (not especially popular) first-class tickets, no one has paid a cent to ride a bus, tram or train within Luxembourg’s borders ever since.

Luxembourg’s roughly 640,000 citizens enjoy the world’s highest per capita income of any independent state (better even than tinier Monaco and Liechtenstein). But even this privileged pocket of Europe faces a few intractable problems. And one of them is cars. 

Nowhere else in the European Union is quite as car-crazy as Luxembourg, which has the highest vehicle density on the continent, with 696 cars per 1,000 people as of 2020. Almost nine out of ten Luxembourgish households have a car; one in ten families have three or more. Low tariffs and taxes gave Luxembourg the cheapest diesel in the EU and the cheapest gas in Western Europe.  With its population set to surpass 690,000 by 2030, Luxembourg risks choking on its automobiles.

But free transit programs have emerged in all kinds of cities and countries over the years as a means of addressing rising energy costs or traffic. Rome experimented with free buses in 1971; Austin, Texas, tried it in 1989 and 1990; Kansas City’s bus and streetcar systems have been fare-less since 2020; and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has vowed to “Free the T” throughout the Massachusetts city, starting with a trio of fare-free bus routes. One of the longest-running efforts has been in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, which has had free

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public transit for residents since 2013, while Estonians also pay no fares for rural bus journeys. Ticket-less transit has also recently arrived in the cities of Dunkirk, France, and the Czech Republic’s Frýdek-Místek.

They remove mobility barriers for poorer citizens and, in a world striving to decarbonize, can also remind voters that a lower-emissions world can also offer conveniences and advantages, not just sacrifices. People are welcoming the freedom to explore new areas, especially teenagers.  Nevertheless, this initiative has not stopped people to choose cars, because trains could also be unreliable with delays and cancellations. Meanwhile, data from elsewhere suggests that the most enthusiastic adopters of free travel policies tend to be people who would have otherwise walked or cycled. For now the ciy is taking the carrot now, and stick later approach by offering good alternatives to driving to entice people to change their habits. 

This will be difficult as a huge proportion of the grand duchy’s workers live outside the country’s borders. A total of 46% of Luxembourg’s workforce consists of international commuters. Around 110,000 come from France, with a further 50,000 each coming from Germany and Belgium. Merely eliminating tickets won’t work as a stand-alone policy for greater sustainability and social equity; it needs to be joined by other efforts, such as more stringent restrictions on car use or more generous housing benefits that allow more people who work in the area to live nearby. And those kinds of changes may be politically harder to implement and more costly to sustain.

Since Estonia’s capital started providing free public transport for residents in 2013, it claims to have turned a €20m a year profit each year. But has the scheme achieved its ambitions of reducing traffic and saving people money?

The capital of Estonia introduced free public transport at the beginning of 2013 after their populist mayor Edgar Savisaar called a referendum on the decision, dismissed by critics at the time as a political stunt that the city couldn’t afford. Three years on Savisaar has been suspended amid allegations of corruption, but the city remains committed to the programme – claiming that instead of it costing them money, they are turning a profit of €20m a year.


To enjoy Tallinn’s buses, trams, trolley buses and trains for free you must be registered as a resident, which means that the municipality

gets a €1,000 share of your income tax every year, explains Dr Oded Cats, an expert who has conducted a year long study on the project. Residents only need to pay €2 for a “green card” and then all their trips are free. Since the scheme launched, an additional 25,000 people have registered in the city that previously had a population of 416,000. The trams and trains are clean and Tallinners have been enthusiastic about using them for free, with early polls delivering a 90% approval rating for the scheme.


There is also a risk, says Cats, that free public transport could lead to less investment in the service. “In the event of an economic depression, investment in public transport will be more exposed to potential budget cuts if they are not earmarked,” he says.  Tallinn also can’t rely on increasing tax revenues by attracting new residents forever.

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Windows began as literal holes in the wall—“wind-eyes”—through which wind could pass for ventilation. Those who wanted less wind blocked them off with shutters, animal skins, or paper. Later, the invention of stained glass let in light while making rooms airtight, but you couldn’t really see through their pretty colors and design. Today, clear glass windows are invisible everywhere. Explore the history of glass, then discuss with your team: would the world be a better place with more transparency between people, rooms, and buildings?

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According to archaeological evidence, the first man-made glass surfaced at 3500 BC in the regions of Eastern Mesopotamia and Egypt. The ancient glass industry had its ups and downs but eventually, this region of the world (along with some surrounding areas) would become the very first centers for glass manufacturing for 500 years. 

Manufacturing glass used to be a slow and difficult process due to small glass melting furnaces and its insufficient heat. But this changed when Syrian craftsmen introduced the blowpipe. This discovery made the process faster, easier, and cheaper.

The art of glass production made its way to Rome and its colonies. And by the end of the 1st century AD, manufacturing glass was refined and done at scale - to a point that glass became a commonly-available material in the Roman world.   

During the 4th century, Christians started to build the early churches as Christianity began to spread throughout Europe. In building these churches, stained glass was used for the windows to create beautiful biblical images, thereby making stained glass a dominant art form of this millennium.

During the early 17th century, window glass was first manufactured in Britain. It was during this time that glass windows started to become more popular for homes across the western world.

After some time, the first glass factory was opened in Jamestown, Virginia. The manufacturing process was still relatively the same, consisting of a bubble of glass that was flattened and reheated before being cut into shapes. This was, however, a cheaper and more efficient to make window glass at the time.

Crown glass is a pivotal discovery and was introduced to Britain in 1674. The process of making crown glass involves a sphere of molten glass that is blown into a bubble and pierced by a rod. This is then spun into a circular sheet. When it was cooled down, it was cut into panes. Despite its imperfections and ripples, this type of glass it is still finer and clearer than the broad glass of before.  

Then, in 1834, a cylinder method of manufacturing quality glass was developed in Germany. This allowed for even larger sheets of glass to be made.

The process of ‘drawing’ glass was introduced by Emile Fourcault in 1904. As the name suggests, the process involves placing a slot in a tank of molten glass and then ‘drawing’ sheets of glass through it, over water-cooled rollers, and straight into a cooling chamber.

Around the same time, Irving Colburn introduced the Colburn machine which made glass in a relatively similar fashion but with the paper-making process as its inspiration. In this machine, the sheet of glass is drawn vertically from the surface of molten glass then gently bent over a roller until it lays horizontally. 

In the year 1903, a French chemist named Edouard Benedictus made the accidental discovery of laminated glass when his glass flask that was coated with plastic cellulose nitrate dropped to the floor and shattered - but did not break. Since this discovery, the process of inserting a thin plastic film between two sheets of glass allowed for more safety with larger windows.  

In 1959, Alastair Pilkington introduced the process of making float glass. This remains to be the industry standard of making glass today. In this process, the molten glass is poured onto a bed of molten tin. As the molten glass floats on the molten tin, the molten glass spreads out to form a level surface. This process allows for very large panes of distortion-free glass to be made.

Smart low-e glass are essentially, low emissivity  glass protects your home from unwanted ultraviolet rays that can damage your furniture, fade your carpets, and even burn your skin. 

Some school architects would say yes—at least those whose classrooms are being reimagined as more open spaces, often with clear glass or even no walls at all between them. The United States tried something similar in the 1970s, with mixed results. Would you and your team want to learn in such a setting, or around a Harkness table? Are schools an institution whose traditional classroom layout—with rows of chairs and desks—should be left well enough alone?

What do you guys think about an open-plan classroom, where several classes use the same space and students can teachers can roam around and interact. In 2017 the New South Wales government committed to building open-plan classrooms, each for up to 120 students, at more than 100 new schools. The Victorian government is building “new flexible learning communities”.

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Arguments in favour of open-plan classrooms use phrases such as “21st century teaching” and “innovative design”. The idea is to have flexible classroom spaces that can cater for large groups of students, while also allowing students to break into smaller groups, directing their own learning while receiving support from a team of teachers working collaboratively. But there is limited evidence open-plan classrooms help learning. In 2018 the University of Melbourne published a systematic review that only found 21 relevant studies since the 1960s that evaluated the impact of educational spaces on student learning outcomes. Of these, the studies showed open-plan environments had mixed effects on academic performance. 

We do know too much noise is bad for learning. A 2015 study comparing traditional and open-plan classrooms found traditional classrooms were the only classroom type to be within or close to recommended noise levels. Many open-plan learning spaces don’t align with internationally recognised evidence-based strategies for high-impact teaching. For example, explicit teaching – where the teacher explains key concepts and procedures clearly and models how to solve problems to the whole class – is difficult to do well in a noisy environment. But it is particularly worrying for students who have issues with hearing, auditory processing, and learning needs such as ADHD. 

State governments need to review the existing research – and seek more if needed – and ensure all new classrooms can support the learning of all students. This includes those with additional learning needs and those unlucky enough to be seated at the back of an open-plan classroom. Where necessary, state governments should also provide schools with funding to fix existing open-plan classrooms so teachers can reduce noisy distractions. Teachers should not have to build their own classroom walls “with whiteboards and shelving”.

Back in the 1960s and '70s, that debate led to a brand new school design: Small classrooms were out. Wide-open spaces were in. The Open Education movement was born.

Across the U.S., schools were designed and built along these new ideas, with a new approach to the learning that would take place inside them. this was a response, historians say, to fears that the U.S. was falling behind in key subjects like science and math. The approach "resonated with those who believed that America's formal, teacher-led classrooms were crushing students' creativity," Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus at Stanford University

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Sounds fun? But it didn't work. "No whole-class lessons, no standardized tests, and no detailed curriculum," he wrote. "The best of the open classrooms had planned settings where children came in contact with things, books, and one another at 'interest centers' and learned at their own pace with the help of the teacher." Within just a few years — by the late 1970s — the open schools movement had faded. A backlash set in. "Traditional schools sprang up in suburbs and cities," Cuban wrote. "This time the call was not for open education but for a return to the basics."

A few schools kept it going, including Benjamin Orr Elementary School. Principal Carolyn Jackson-King feels it allows teachers to collaborate and walk over to different classrooms.  But, in the end, they also added a lot of artificial partitions, like bookshelves and whiteboards.  Soon, this school will be going extinct as they plan to rebuild a new school next door.

Phillips Exeter Academy, one of America's most prestigious boarding schools, is where the concept of Harkness discussions was born. They describes the circular discussion model as a space for “collaboration and respect, where every voice carries equal weight.” However, some experiences have proven rather different. Often, the table is dominated by a few individuals, while the others feel inadequate for not sharing their ideas. In an environment where only certain individuals share, not all voices are heard, defeating the main idea and goal of Harkness.


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The author Inez Stephenson feels with a Harkness table, conversations go too fast and feel too much pressure to share proactively. Some students prefer to listen and feel their underdeveloped idea is not okay for sharing.  According to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of the world’s population are visual learners, meaning they may struggle with following spoken ideas. Harkness puts a lot of emphasis on speaking and listening, yet does not provide many outlets to fulfill the visual needs of many students. What works for an elite school might not work for all schools and all types of learners. 


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