16 June, 2010

Global geometry aka Visiting The Antipodes

Did you know that you can Go to the Antipodes, but you can never Get there?   By definition, your Antipode is the opposite side of the globe from where you stand - you can aim yourself at it, but never, no matter how fast or far you travel, actually attain it.  Your own personal Antipode will always elude you by 180 degrees longitude, and as many degrees to the south as your current point of existence is to the north, of the equator.  Your Antipode reaches you via the centre of the globe you happen to be standing on - be it Earth, Moon, or Mars, for all you past and future explorers of our Solar System and, ahem, hopefully beyond.

I'm heading for my very own, Ottawan antipode.  Strictly speaking, it's located in the drink: somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean, between South Africa's optimistically misnamed Cape of Good Hope and Australia's southwestern tip.  Amazingly, to a very good first order approximation, it all but falls on a145-km  pimple of land: the French Southern And Antarctic Lands, barely jutting out of said drink, 4000 km from either of the above continental corners and 2000 km N  of the nearest coastline of Antarctica. Napoleon's Elba was a bustling metropolis in comparison.  The capital of this fine French territory, Port-aux-Français, is a collection of Wylie Coyote-worthy Acme-like prefab structures, although with no beep-beep Roadrunners to be seen.

Thankfully, my actual destination is some 7300 km to the east of PaF.  Had I actually started at its Antipode, it would've been  Playa de San Bartolo, España:  yes, the beautifully balmy NW coast of Spain. Alas, instead of lounging on a gorgeous white beach in the middle of a balmy summer day, I'm reluctantly heading to a cold & drizzly winter. 

Any guesses as to what sort of fabrics I'll be aiming to find? 

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