Why Is North “Up?” Some People Want South-Up Map Orientation

Welcome to a new column on Break called Stoner Thought Of The Day! Here we will present you thoughts or questions that will make you feel as though you have been partaking in a bit of the old sticky icky, even if the only thing stoned about you is that you are stone cold sober. First off here is a question many of you probably never thought of. Why is North, “Up?”

Like if you looked at the planet Earth from space there is no “correct” way to look at it. There is no direction “up” in the vastness of space and the only reason that we look at a map and a globe in the “traditional” way is because a long time ago an astronomer named Ptolemy decided that we should orientate north up and thus east to the right, west to the left. Thanks Ptolemy! The good thing for us is that it put America on top. USA! USA! 

Why do you always want to be on top? #ThatsWhatSheSaid

However some people argue that psychologically having countries in the northern hemisphere always being “on top” gives humans the impression that north is “good” and south is “bad.” In fact South Korea used to us south-up maps and globes so that they were above their enemy North Korea.  It makes sense.  Why does Australia have to be the ass end of the Earth? Flip it the other way around Australia is no on top! Oh no! Now which way will their toilets flow?!

Have you ever talked to someone upside down? They look like an alien.

In fact the famous “Blue Marble” photograph taken by Apollo 17 astronauts from space was originally photographed with the south-up orientation. However NASA later published the photo in the traditional north-up orientation.

In space nobody can hear your crazy thoughts, man.

While some argue that the north-up map teaches unintended biases to students learning geography, there is no real push to change the orientation of the globe. I for one think we should put the globe on the right side -up orientation so everyone is equal, man. Yeah!

What do you think? Is it weird that we arbitrarily decided that north is “up?” Does it matter?

Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney

Source: Wikipedia