The Floating Soul at the Center of the Earth

The Prime Meridian is an arbitrary line drawn from the North Pole to the South Pole as a starting point for us to measure longitude. It was decided to place the meridian in a line going through Greenwich, UK, at the  International Meridian Conference in 1884. Before that, different countries used their own meridians as a starting point. The Prime Meridian is said to be the line between the Western Hemisphere and the Eastern Hemisphere, but as you can see, that doesn't make sense because then a big chunk of Africa, plus Spain and Britain, would be in the Western Hemisphere. Still, Britain held a lot of power in the 1880s. The equator is not arbitrary, because it's the midpoint between the poles, which are designated by the earth's rotation.

(Image credit: Graham Curran)

The point where the Prime Meridian crosses the equator is 0° longitude and 0° latitude. That place is hundreds of miles off the coast of Ghana, with no islands nearby. The numbers were just a point on a map before satellites and digital geolocation, but in the modern era, errors in geolocation will default to 0°,0°. In the internet age, this point on earth has come to be called Null Island. Redditors have designed flags for Null Island, and you can buy souvenir t-shirts. Only there is no island there. But there is a scientific buoy, named Soul Buoy, installed in 1997. Read about the imaginary Null Island at Big Think. -via Atlas Obscura

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