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Australia on the Move

Your world map is wrong when it comes to Australia. It’s not just the Mercator distortion, so your globe is wrong, too. Australia sits on the world’s fastest-moving tectonic plate, and manages to constantly drift relative to the world’s other land masses, about 2.7 inches a year. That does’t seem like much, but for GPS coordinates, it soon becomes a lot.   

Four times in the last 50 years, Australia has reset the official coordinates of everything in the country to make them more accurate, correcting for other sources of error as well as continental drift. The last adjustment, in 1994, was a doozy: about 656 feet, enough to give the delivery driver an alibi for ringing your neighbor’s doorbell instead of yours.

What I want to know is, how wrong does my globe look? The globe itself is at least 50 years old, and was probably based on maps that are now 100 years old. Read more about Australia and its place in the world at the New York Times. -via Digg

(Image credit: Sasha Portis)


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