Monday, July 25, 2022

Digging to China

If you dig a hole anywhere in the United States then some wag is likely to ask you if you are digging to China. Of course if you could somehow dig a hole through the center of the Earth you wouldn't end up anywhere near China. You would emerge soaked to the skin in the south Indian Ocean, somewhere between Madagascar and Australia. That is because no point in the contiguous United States has an antipode which is located on land (except for a very few locations whaich have an antipode on one of the few mostly uninhabited small islands in the Indian Ocean).

An antipode is a point on the Earth's surface which is dimaterically opposite to another point. If you drew a straight line between these two points the line would pass directly through the center of the Earth. You can find out exactly where your home's antipode is on Topi Tjukanov's interactive map Antipodes.

if you could dig through the Earth from the USA you would end up in the Indian Ocean

Antipodes uses Mapbox's new 3D globe projection to show you what lies directly on the other side of the world from every single point on Earth. All the place labels on this 3D globe actually show antipodes. For example if you rotate the Antipodes globe to look at Argentina and Chile you won't see labels for Santiago or Buenos Aires but place labels for cities such as Beijing and Wuhan. It turns out that if you dig straight through the Earth from Argentina or Chile then you actually would end up in China.

There are many other maps which can help you find what is on the exact opposite side of Earth from your location. For example, if you enter any location into the Antipodes Map you can discover its antipode. Unfortunately for most people in the world both these antipodes maps will show you a result somewhere in an ocean or sea. Only around 15% of the world's land area has an antipode which is on land. The vast majority of us have antipodes which are in water. 

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