Technology

PPFF #130: null island

Good morning,
I’m vacationing somewhere hot and sunny – clear blue sea, sandy beaches, palm trees, cocktails and all that blissfully boring stuff.

Blissful or not, boredom did actually get to me. So I started browsing a little on my phone and came across a place called ‘Null Island’, situated where the Prime Meridian crosses the Equator, 1600 kilometres off the western coast of Africa, according to this website,  somewhat like the place where I’m chilling right now.

Those of you who really paid attention at school in your geography classes might have noticed that the location ‘where the Prime Meridian crosses the Equator’ has the longitude of zero and the latitude of zero in geographic coordinate system, i.e. the origin (and those of you who didn’t pay attention, shame on you!).

No, despite the national flag and the Nullish language they claim to speak, Null Island is not quite real but an imaginary place located at 0°N 0°E in the South Atlantic Ocean. First introduced by digital cartographers and programmed as a 1 square metre patch by Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso, Null Island or °N 0°E is the default location to which Google maps and other digital Global Positioning System applications supposedly send the millions of users who make erroneous searches.

What was intended to help highlight errors in geocoding, then took a life of its own as other cartographers created its natural geography (which they actually ripped off from the island in an esoteric video game called ‘Myst’) along with its national flag as you can see here.

This is what the map-geek squad drew up – a tad grandiose for what’s actually there. 
Below is what’s actually there; a weather observation buoy moored at the supposed location of the island.
p.s. in case you’re wondering ‘what happens when you search “Null Island” in Google maps’, I’ve done that for you. For some bizarre reason, it takes you to the US Library of Congress at 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540.


Have a good Friday.

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