The World Viewed In Maps

A little bit of Friday “Eye Chewing Gum”… Not quite “eye candy”, but it does give you some things to chew on…

I note that the map of the internet in 1969 had expanded to include my UC Campus by about 1972 when I first noticed it / participated in it.

I’m also rather astounded at the large number of countries the UK has invaded. For some of the ones listed as “not invaded” (especially in Europe) I’m pretty sure some British Troops went through them during some World War or other; but maybe “liberating with an army” is different from “invaded” for that map. Still, that’s an awful lot of the world to have been invaded by that little island off of the EU where 1/2 the people today are afraid of engaging the rest of the world in a free Brexit market…

I’m also mildly miffed at the claim the USA is a place that “doesn’t use the metric system”. We use it. Where it works best and as any particular individual chooses. We just don’t MANDATE that you must use it. I can use fathoms or furlongs per fortnight or cubits or Royal Cubits or whatever I damn well please. Even meters and kilos…

But it is the map showing the world divided by One Billion Segments that reminds me why I live in the more empty one…

Then there’s the inter-map comparisons. Communist places with internet restricted, for example. Shipping lands and great white sharks. Odd how things have patterns. And the questions it raises, like why football and basketball coaches earn more than doctors.

You will likely want to hit “pause” at various maps to contemplate them just a little.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Earth Sciences, Economics - Trading - and Money, History, Human Interest and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to The World Viewed In Maps

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes just a bit more negative propaganda about America, it is by law the preferred measurement system in many areas, but not “mandated” to allow gradual introduction in a manner that does not inflict unnecessary costs on business and the general public.

    Click to access 1136a.pdf

    Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. This legislation amended the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 and designates the metric system as the preferred system of weights and measures for United States trade and commerce.”

  2. John F. Hultquist says:

    Standard wine bottle is 750 ml, and has been for a long time.

    Land parcels will not change. Would be crazy to do so.
    See area around Pocahontas, Iowa.

  3. ossqss says:

    That was cool. I would like to see the map for bikini’s. With filters available ;-)

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    The claim that the UK invaded Australia is a left wing notion currently obsessing their spokesmen. (Their spokeswomen are busy abusing some girl for wearing a Chinese dress to some school function). Along with other weird ideas, such as the coming Global Warming.

    They made such a map but it required you to use a magnifier to see anything.

  5. Metric system: Your argument is of course valid, but you’re a scientist, and you use the metric system. I grew up in Europe, and I lived with the metric system for the first 18 years of my life. However, now, when I drive in Europe, I convert the 200km driving distance from Nuremberg to Munich to miles in my head to know “how far it is.” When I go to Home Depot, I buy my stuff in sizes of 2 x 4 feet or 12 inches, and I would have no idea what any of those things are in metric. I can convert, of course, but I don’t do it. I don’t think that way. So I would strongly suggest that we’re not using the metric system, and since we’re such a large nation with our current system so deeply ingrained in our thinking, it may never change…

  6. H.R. says:

    Metric: I was 27 when I started college (1980) to get an Engineering degree. By that time, all engineering and science courses were using SI units and I found it to be very convenient for calculations.

    I worked in manufacturing starting from age 19 and everything was measured in feet and decimal inches except where wood, construction-related goods, or plant facilities was involved. Feet and fractional inches were used for those cases.

    I my last two jobs were at Japanese-owned support plants that were formed when the major company they were supplying built plants in the U.S. I worked for one, which made auto parts for Honda and Nissan, and the last company, which I retired from, made fabricated steel hydraulic lines for excavators and forklifts; Deere-Hitachi, Komatsu, Link-Belt excavators and Mitsubishi-Caterpillar, and Toyota (for a few years; story behind that) lift trucks .

    The prints for products were all in SI units and measures of length were always in millimeters. Now THAT last job was FUN (no sarc). I constantly had to convert between feet, decimal and fractional inches, millimeters, liters, gallons, quarts, and liquid ounces. To top it off, all the equipment that was sent from Japan used BSP fittings and metric hardware, but after a few years of repair, were a mix of BSP and NPT fittings and inch hardware and tooling made in the U.S. for the equipment. Oh, and pressure gauges would wind up being a mix psi, bar, and Pa, and temperature gauges would be in F and C degrees; scales in kg and pounds and ounces. (BTW, metric Crescent wrenches are very useful on mixed equipment 😜.)

    So over a career, I’ve internalized all of the measuring systems and think in the system units at hand, easily converting to other units as needed.

    There are two exceptions to my measurement fluency: 1) kilometers and 2) hectares. They just don’t register with me unless I convert to miles or acres. About the only thing I have internalized would be if I saw a freeway sign: Rest Area, 1.5 km.

    It’s like the newbies we’d hire. If you ask them to get an 800mm piece of 34mm diameter drop, they don’t know if they are looking for a piece of skinny or fat tube and if they are looking for an 8″ piece or something 8′ long. It’s just not internalized and they need to convert to inches. For me, I don’t do hectares or kilometers.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    I was oddly blessed in having my High School Chemistry taught to me in English AND Metric units. We did thermo calculations with both Kelvin and Rankine (!). I’m probably one of the last folks on the planet who knows and actually likes Rankine.

    The USA is full of all sorts of “mixed unit” situations. My old Ford F350 was made in Canada. Some bits were metric, some SAE. Every dope dealer knows there’s 36 ounce baggies in a kilo of grass ;-) (It is really 35 1/4 but these are dope dealers maximizing profit after all…and it isn’t like they will get in trouble with the Bureau Of Consumer Affairs)

    We buy Coke in your choice of 12 oz, 16 oz, 1 liter, or 2 liter bottles. Nobody seems to care that there isn’t a quart, or a 1/2 liter. (Or a 1/2 gallon for that matter).

    Some folks make noise about the USA being ‘backward’ and incompetent in using English & SAE measures. In reality we, most of us, just use all of the units as we encounter them.

    The major thing to realize is that BOTH systems of units are rational and effective. THE major difference is that the English / SAE system is easiest for “fractional math” and the metric system is easier for decimal math. If I’ve got a dozen cookies and wish to divide them 6 ways, I just set up the fraction 12/6 and reduce it. 2. Similarly, take a recipe for something in cups and pounds. To double, halve, or by 1/4 divide it is generally easy. Now say you have a recipe using 250 ml of something. What’s 1/4 of that? I’ll wait while you do long division… ( 62.5 …)

    So we tend to use “the most convenient size” for general bulk items (like a L of coke or a gallon of milk) and then metric or English for things needing math of a particular sort. (Like cooking works a lot easier in English units for many kinds of size adjustments). CAN you do everything in one of the two systems of units? Sure. But why be so limited?

    @Graeme No. 3:

    Could they be referring to the original take-over from the Aborigines?

  8. cdquarles says:

    Heh, well, EM, I am also one of those. Celsius/Kelvin degrees are too crude. Why not use the higher resolution unit for thermodynamic temperature, aka Fahrenheit/Rankine.

    What many may not know is that the American English units were modified in the late 1970s and early 1980s to be easier to remember. One American inch is now exactly 25.4 mm. A teaspoon is exactly 5 ml. A pound is 454.5 g. A kilogram is exactly 2.2 pounds. The ‘short’ ton is 2000 pounds and the ‘long’ or metric ton, 1000 Kg or 2200 pounds.

    A thing about ‘aborigines’, they were ‘invaders’, too. Not only that, for many places (including North America), there were multiple such, so the question of “Who was here first? and Who wiped out whom” is not as clear as some want to make it be.

  9. cdquarles says:

    Oh, around here, it is hard to find a 16 fluid ounce Coke. They tend to 0.5 L now. ;p Plus, they’ve brought back the old 6 and 10 oz. bottle. Glass bottles. You’ll pay dearly for them.

  10. jim2 says:

    As a Chemist, I prefer the metric system. I still use English, of course, for things like my measuring tape for home projects. I’m not fond of all the fractions.

  11. Steve C says:

    I was amused, back in the day,, by how a standard sheet of plywood (or whatever) went from being “eight by four” (feet) to being “twenty-four forty by twelve twenty” (millimetres). Which, to save you working it out, is 48.03… inches by 96.06… . So, in this century, still labelled and catalogued in millimetres, and still de facto eight foot by four!

  12. Larry Ledwick says:

    I also use both measuring systems as needed but as noted before in some size increments I do not internalize what a certain size is until I convert it. I am getting better at kilometer measurements and now have a ball park concept of how far 30 km is but I still instantly mentally convert it to 3 units of 6.2 miles – oh it is just a bit over 18 miles. Same with inches and milimeter measurements, I know from long experience that a 14 mm wrench is almost the same size as a 9/16 inch wrench if the nut is in good shape and not too tight you can take off a 9/16 inch nut with a 14 mm wrench but the 9/16 will not go over a 14mm. There are other measurements that are not quite so intuitive I know what a woman having a 38 bra size means but not so sure if a 92 cm is big or small or normal.

    In the case of thermo, I sometimes prefer BTU and pound degree F as the units were designed to work together on common commercial size quantities of material.

    I am just now getting somewhat comfortable with Kilo Newton force vs pounds force. I really struggled to internalize that force unit until I realized it was the approximate weight of a large man (224.8 pounds force = for practical purposes 225 pounds). Once I established that internal hook for mental processing to tie it to known forces it was much less troublesome. In climbing gear they now rate breaking strength of hardware and ropes almost exclusively in kN force, just 20 years ago when I was in mountain rescue here in the US ratings were in pounds force with parenthetical specifications in kN for the European climbers. I knew our static rescue ropes were rated at between 6000 pounds and 7000 pounds breaking strength, but 20 kN or 30kN did not mean a lot to me until I converted them to “man weights” of 225 pounds, making the 20kN rope suitable for up to 4500 pounds ultimate strength and 30 kN up to 6700 pounds ultimate strength. For large loads I still think only in 1000 pound force units, but at least have some intuitive ball park internalization of kN forces but still have to actually convert them to know precisely if they represent heavy load , really heavy load or we need more ropes heavy.

    For some small measurements in the range from 1 – 10 mm I prefer millimeters for quickly describing things like how thick a penny is. It is interesting that the size and weights of US coins are both in useful metric and imperial units increments. If you need a weights and measures reference, the penny and nickel make nice gram references. You want to check the weight of that drug dealers bag of dope, you can use pennies and nickles to verify it. The penny is exactly 3/4 inch in diameter and the quarter is just a tad less than one inch in diameter.
    A quarter 5.670 gram weight its also 0.2 ounces, so 5 quarters = one ounce.

  13. H.R. says:

    @cd re N. American invaders: A good few years ago, E.M. wrote some posts on Celts and their origins, and then got into other migrations, and the origins of man. You know how it goes around here; lots of bits and pieces of interesting finds, DNA markers, language similarities. Comments wandering afield here and there.

    One comment made that really stuck with me about the First People of N. America was made by someone who is still commenting here (one of you is guilty 😜). It was a mini-rant about U.S. archeologists who spouted grand, nonsensical theories based on what was known of digs on Continental N. and S. America and largely in the 20th century.

    The Doh! moment I liked was when he pointed out that all the earliest stuff that would give us a clue was under water out on the Continental Shelf. Double Doh! Of course people first settle near the coasts for the food supplies. Then they work their way inland. During glaciations, migrations are easy peasy to walk coastlines and if simple boats weren’t thought of yet, of, logs or log rafts could be used where needed.

    We really don’t know much about early, early migrations and civilizations because the best evidence for the real story is under water and perhaps long gone.

    Who knows how many fairly advanced civilizations (for their given time) were wiped out along the coasts by a glacial melt-water pulse that could not be outrun, or forced them inland where they couldn’t get the needed food acquisition skills in time to save themselves?

    Anyhow, the above was written for any relative newcomers (past 3-4 years) reading here who missed those posts and comments back when. I’m going to look for a link to the recently found city off the coast of India and post that on W.O.O.D., in case anyone wants to kick the topic around some more.

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    There is fair evidence that Europeans got to North America first, but were largely wiped out in the Younger Dryas impact event. What needs emphasis about that, though, is these were NOT the same Europeans who populate Western Europe today. That invasion of the Indo-European cattle herders came later and killed off most of the “aborigines” of Western Europe. (Some small remnant populations survived high up mountains where the agriculture was not good – there are haplotype variations on hilltops as testimony).

    The Ainu of Japan are a similar remnant population of non-Asiatic type. (Really a mis-nomer, as White Caucasians ARE the real Asiatic type, originating in central northern Asia as Mammoth hunters. What we call “Asians” now are really South East Tropical Asian sub type. But moving on…) the “Indians” who came to North America from Asia included genes from those Ainu like “white” types, then later some “Asian” types came over. Similarly, the European influx was of similar Ainu / Basque (somewhat unknown exactly) type that, in Western Europe, were later extirpated by the influx of Central Asian White cattle herders / farmers.

    So the result is that American Natives have an odd mix of some “Asian type” features and some European type features and some that are only common in a people now extirpated in most of their original range. Yet the “American Indians” of today madly fight to prevent this being shown by insisting on burial and destruction of all fossils found that would testify to it. They fear it would “justify” the European invasion. In reality, it would demonstrate that the same Europeans who invaded and destroyed them, did so over the dead bodies of those first Europeans as well… They miss that “all Europeans were not the same” over 10,000 years of extirpation…

    Sidebar on Boats:

    I find it fascinating that there’s a load of folks who assert the first real boats were only invented about 5000 years ago as those are the oldest boat remains found. Yet we have clear evidence that humans made it to Australia at least 50,000 years ago (and there was NOT a land bridge) and now evidence that humans made it to the Philippines 600,000 years ago (also no land bridge). It’s absolutely clear we have been a boat building ocean going species for at least one Glacial Cycle. Yet suggest folks used boats to get from Europe to North America along the ice bridge, and you get attacked.

    I like to ask such folks just how well seal skins and fat coated leather are preserved as fossils in the ocean and rivers… There’s a sub-species of humans that really ought to be called Homo Maritimus who have spent 100,000 years or more living on and near the ocean. IMHO, there’s a reason we find the bulk of all human population near the coastline even today.

  15. H.R. says:

    @Larry: Yeah, its that internalization of measurements thingy. I liked your examples, and I had not thought to use 6.2 miles for 10 kilometers (Doh!) That one will be a big help in getting me on the road to internalizing highway distance in kilometers. Thanks for that one. One professor of mine said to think of a Newton as about 1 apple. I did a quick calc in apples using a 4 ounce apple and got 5,000 for 20kN. Quick and dirty but it gets you into the right neighborhood. fairly quickly.

    In my experience, millimeters are too coarse for precision machining. Decimal inches are much better when holding things to thousandths or ten thousandths.

    Oh, since we were an OEM, all our prints came from our customers in mm, but we would convert their prints to ‘our’ prints to mask our customer from our vendors. We converted the metric units to inches or dual dimensions, if the vendor was capable. Most American machine shops work in decimal inches. That was a big part of getting me to rapidly internalize mm and inch dimensions.

  16. chrism56 says:

    I work in New Zealand power stations. We have been metric since the late 70s, but a lot of our older equipment is still in Imperial dimensions. I also work on a power station that came from the US but was made in Japan. It is metric, but all the dimensions on the drawings were put in fractional inches! The JIS components seem to be a mix of metric, UK and US. It allows them to build for different markets I suppose.
    Like other commentators have noted, many of us can work in a variety of units and able to mentally convert from one to the other – at least as a first approximations.

  17. H.R. says:

    “There’s a sub-species of humans that really ought to be called Homo Maritimus who have spent 100,000 years or more living on and near the ocean. IMHO, there’s a reason we find the bulk of all human population near the coastline even today.”

    There’s a thought I don’t recall discussing, although I may have missed or forgotten it. IF the earliest human ‘came down out of the trees’ and headed for the oceans (a lot left out in between there ;o), AND they had the brains to figure out boats, THEN it seems to me that the easiest routes for migration would be by boat along coastlines with the adventurous taking off to populate the interior lands. And since they knew boats, they could get pretty far inland via rivers very quickly without leaving much in the way of an archeological footprint at current coastlines.

    You don’t have to carry, spears, clubs, or other gear to fend off who-knows-what land critter. You don’t have to lug stuff overland, as it is far easier to float a fair load of gear along with you. There is some safety in that if something nasty comes at you while you’re camped on the shore, you can jump into the boat and paddle out a bit where the big nasty can’t get you.

    At the moment, there would be no evidence for migrations by sea, then inland from there, because all the camps and landing areas are covered by water now. I’m just talking very early spread of humans. Some of the land migration of later humans over land have fair evidence for the direction of migrations. But did they start at the interior and move back towards the coast? I don’t know if anyone has thought to look at the topic that way.

    It just kind of gnaws at me that some pronouncements are made about the spread of humans when land currently above the sea is the only place that has been available to look for clues and evidence. So naturally, the only theories that can be advanced about the earliest propagation of humans are land-based because that’s the only evidence. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    The waterway migration ideas appeal to me because, as in the simple arguments above, it seems easier than land migration and depends only on the assumption of simple skin boats or logs. The sad news is that any supporting evidence is underwater, ground to dust by glaciations, or long-passed through bacterial digestion.

    The 700,000 year-old Indonesian discovery demands a water-path, but the how, including boats, is just guessing.

  18. Larry Ledwick says:

    We had the same issue in the Gate Rubber Company machine shops here in Denver in the early 1970’s. They had just gone international and started dual dimensioning their blue prints. The thing the average person does not realize is that in machine work you have implied tolerance dimension.

    If I dimension a blue print with a hole diameter of 1 inch, and on another place I dimension a hole as 1.0 inches and another 1.00 inches all three holes have different implied dimension tolerance based on the significant digits used in the dimension, depending on their local shop practice or industry standard. The 1 inch hole probably had an implied dimension of 1 inch +/- 1/64 inch or 0.010, the 1.0 inch diameter hole might have a true tolerance of 1.00 inches -0.0 and +0.10 (depending in some cases on its use, is a pin or bolt of specified dimension going to need to fit through the hole? or is it simply clearance for a socket wrench? )
    The 1.00 inch hole might have an implied dimension of 1.00 +/- 0.005 inches.

    In many cases those implied dimensions are based on the dimensional tolerance easily attained with the machine tools of the day.

    In any case we would get prints that called for a 1 1/8 inch shaft ( 28.575 mm dia) The first dimension by the nature of the units used is the nominal dimension of a stock cold rolled bar of 1 1/8 diameter (no machining necessary), the second in metric implied you needed to hold a dimension of 29.575 diameter +/1 .005 mm or something similar) They actually published a dimensioning standard book for the engineers and machine shop which spelled out the precision implied by each type of dimensioning method and number of significant digits. In the beginning we were getting whole number inch dimensions and metric equivalent dimensions carried out to 5 or 6 decimal places, which implied entirely different machine precision tolerances.

    Same here on the machinist angle, I have a much better understanding of what one ten thousandth of an inch means than 0.00254 mm. Like you certain tasks work primarily in certain dimension ranges. In my mind, feet and inches are much more useful than cm or meter for things like carpentry. A 92 5/8″ stud is easier for me to work with than a 235 cm stud, when you realize that the top and bottom plate are both 1 5/8 thick or an additional 3.25 inches for a total height of 95.875 inches (95 7/8 inches) or basically 8 ft which is nominal ceiling height in the U.S.

    The history of lumber sizing is interesting in itself. As noted in the following pdf, standardized lumber dimensions is actually relatively new, and only became important after lumber mills started shipping product outside their local market where a user might get loads of lumber from different suppliers which used different dimensioning standards.

    Click to access miscpub_6409.pdf

  19. H.R. says:

    @chrism: You indirectly brought up a point that I hadn’t considered. There are a lot of components that seem to have a natural size due to machining or material strength limitations. And there’s the imitation and IP theft aspect.

    So that explains a lot of components that have a 2.0″ dimension if made in the U.S. but 50mm on the dot when a similar component is made overseas. Same for other handy lengths such as a foot being 300mm. You can’t substitute directly, but a lot of things made are pretty much the same, just rounded to the convenient numbers in whatever system is being used.

    That’s certainly a wild tale of them converting from metric to fractional inches! I never have run across that one. Crazy!

    You also brought to mind E.M.’s interest in old units of measure such as barley-corns, thumb width, nose-to-fingertip… I forget them all but he’s done a few posts on them. The old boys were a creative bunch and they actually picked things that were pretty easy to understand and calculate by those we’d now call illiterate, but they sure knew their hogsheads cubits and could calculate us moderns under the table 🤔 Did you ever catch those posts?

  20. H.R. says:

    @Larry: You are singing my song right there.

    The implied tolerance was probably the biggest headache and major cause of errors that we encountered. Worse, the tolerances on the Japanese prints were often implied by the end use of the part, which was buried somewhere in a footnote to a Japanese spec, that referenced some other spec. So a print would have a table of tolerances, but since it was going to be used for hydraulics, you had to ignore the tolerance block and ‘just know’ that a couple of dimensions were to tighter tolerances.

    Angular tolerances rarely showed on a print. We told our customers that we were assuming +/- 2 degrees (welding warpage) if not specified. Turns out that in some cases, over a couple of degrees was just fine, but other parts needed to hold 1/2 degree. We almost always had to ask. Oh, worse yet, a couple of the tubes we made had decent angular tolerance, but it was one-sided and nowhere on the print!

    Anyhow, all that was changing starting a couple of years before I retired. The excavator company started redrawing the Japanese prints to particularly address the tolerance and spec issues that all of their U.S. suppliers were having, not just us. It was cheaper to just redraw the prints than put up with the errors that showed up on their receiving dock. It also opened up more U.S. vendors to them to put price pressure on the Japanese-owned vendors, but they were too polite to explicitly mention that ;o)

  21. Graeme No.3 says:

    H.R. et al
    The “invasion” of Australia is now so firmly held by a certain group of political persuasion that it will never be erradicated. Modern ‘smoking’ ceremonies are held at any worthwhile (or otherwise) function attended by worthwhile (or otherwise) politicians. Claims are made of tens of thousands of aborigines being wiped out in war against the europeans, despite evidence to the contrary (explorers Sturt and Stewart and others travelled across Australia without resorting to massacre with gunfire. Even that idiot Burke & party were supported by the locals until most died). That doesn’t mean that there weren’t local massacres but most aborigines (as did polynesians) died from introduced diseases such as influenza, small pox etc.) We are told simultaneously that WE are guilty of the genoside of the Tasmanians while paying 30,000? pensions to survivors.

    The Mungo lake bones mean that man was in Australia at least 40,000 years ago so must have crossed deep water – roughly the Wallace line between Bali and Lombok. Claims are made for longer settlement times seemingly because of the aborigines claim that their tribe has been there forever. But there must have been multiple migrations, the Tasmanians were definitely different physically (and culturally) to mainland types. Early explorers found different types e.g. pigmies in the Qld. rain forests. The Bradshaw paintings have been elevated to “proof” of antiquity despite the succeeding peoples neither being able to explain their meaning nor hesitating to mutilate them.
    Comparison of the mitochondrial DNA with that of ancient and modern Aborigines led to the conclusion that Mungo Man fell outside the range of genetic variation seen in Australian Aboriginal people, and was used to support the multiregional origin of modern humans hypothesis. These results proved politically controversial, and once that happens facts are ignored.
    The original boat may not have had to be very elaborate. Aborigines made do with a sheet of bark slightly shaped (and further so by their weight in the centre causing it to bow upwards at the sides).

    The Wallace line is based on deep water approx. 35 km (22 miles) wide between Bali and Lombok and separates asian and austronesian species. Thus australian aborigines and melanesians have higher levels of Denisovan inheritence than those west of the line. But it wasn’t one way, the Komodo dragon is thought to have evolved in Australia and isolated on several islands by rising sea levels after the ice age ended. One of those islands was Flores, home to the “Hobbit” peoples who also must have been able to cross the divide.

  22. H.R. says:

    Thank for the additional insight Graeme No 3. I see we’re still stuck with “boats likely, but design is still just a guess.” At least you’ve got a highly plausible ‘nother guess with the bark boats, which wouldn’t survive to the present day.

    Nice! I forgot about bark boats. Much easier than trying to take the skin of some big mean toothy critter that most likely wouldn’t want to part with it.

    “These results proved politically controversial, and once that happens facts are ignored.” You might want to trademark that one, Graeme. That’s a succinct statement for the ages of something everybody knows and has observed. [still chuckling cuz it’s so true]

    Your last bit about the Hobbit people bolsters my speculation that humans are inherently lazy (a good thing!) and are always looking for the easiest way to move around all the cool junk they accumulate and leave the rest of their mess behind; thus water travel. Float it, don’t lug it.

    The modern analogue is rental trucks for moving our junk and looking to the future, there’s gotta be an easier way for humans to populate the galaxy. We’ve just have to get past those #$@! primitive rockets. Just like the Hobbits; leave the mess behind and take our Pamela Anderson posters with us.

  23. H.R. says:

    @Graeme – Still chuckling about the facts going out the window, and I meant copyright, but wrote trademark. The more I think about it, the longer the chuckles last, because it’s so hard to think of something in the sciences that doesn’t degrade to “Is not. Is so. Is NOT. Is SO! Neener, neener, neener.!!”

    Well, most of the time they use fancier words and lot more of them, but not always. 😜

  24. Larry Ledwick says:

    I would postulate that the boats most likely to have been used for the exploration would be the type of early indigenous boats used at the end points of the migrations. They would have kept using the successful boat design that got them there.

    Some of the very earliest boats were just crude skins stretched over some bowed limbs (looked sort of like an upside down umbrella but they sucked for any directional travel, every culture in the world that went far off shore used something like the out rigger canoes or dug out canoes of the Polynesians and American Indians and only after covering a lot of ground did they develop more sophisticated designs like the Viking ships. Based on findings in Egypt advanced cultures were building large and sophisticated boats by 2500 BC

  25. tom0mason says:

    You may be interested in two recent find —
    This article from Science website ( ) put some of the people living in the Philippines as arriving 700,000 years ago. The researcher don’t believe these were examples of modern man but probably H. erectus, maybe, maybe not, eh?
    Also from the same site is , were a statue was displayed as a curiosity in a Yekaterinburg museum, assumed to be at most a few thousand years old.
    Re-analyzing the wood from this statue reveals that it was crafted from a single larchwood log 11,600 years ago, making it one of the world’s oldest examples of monumental art. It is obvious from other discoveries from the site where the statue originated, that the Paleolithic people who made the artifacts were very good craftsman, particularly in carving wood and bone.
    As the piece says

    The idol is a reminder that stone wasn’t the only material people in the past used to make art and monuments—just the one most likely to survive, possibly skewing our understanding of prehistory. “Wood normally doesn’t last,” Terberger says. “I expect there were many more of these and they’re not preserved.”

  26. H.R. says:

    Hmmmmm…. Larry, it doesn’t seem very farfetched that skin or bark boat-makers near the ocean wouldn’t easily notice a fallen log in the ocean and make note of the advantages in the water and against the waves over their floating inverted umbrellas. 🤔

    It seems to me that some pissed off dude that has been trying to ride a log that keeps rolling on him would likely throw a bunch of ideas at the problem and fairly quickly come up with an outrigger to stop the rolling. (“Try this… no… how about this… Doh!… how about lashing a couple of logs or more together (raft)…. better, but a beast to paddle… Hey! How about just one log out to the side, get rid of those logs in between? I think I’m onto something!)

    Next is figuring out a way to keep the Pamela Anderson poster dry. Oh! Hollow out one of the logs.

    Then the guys get to racing for pink slips and they start messing with the diameter of the log on the outside and start finding better ways to lighten the main log by finding better ways to hollow out the main log which means they can move more junk.

    Then it come down to packing the chicken, the wife, the obsidian, the Pamela Anderson poster, the fishing spear… and before you know it, the missus puts her foot down on the Pamela Anderson poster and we get the first divorce occurring about 600,000 years ago. But I digress.

    Dugouts with outriggers just don’t seem like a big jump from skin boats. Maybe so, maybe not.

  27. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes all those options show up through out the world depending on the specific needs. The skin covered bull boats worked in shallow waters for things like wading and gathering aquatic plants or fish etc, but would have been terrible in open water and long distance travel.

    Every major indegionous people came up with something similar to the canoe or long boat or both, they are an absolute obvious progression from a long narrow raft of 2-4 lots lashed together.

  28. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting variation – bring your own portable harbor with you.

  29. Larry Ledwick says:

    The Irish equivalent to the Native American bull boat and Eskimo skin covered boats.

  30. tom0mason says:

    If Pacific Islanders (Marshall Islands) learned how to navigate by stick maps, could not some others in different parts of the world also learn similar methods (like some Northern Europeans)?
    Also… from
    “Exactly how Vikings navigated the open seas has been the subject of speculation and folklore. Researchers think the Vikings used sophisticated sun compasses to find true north and relied on a “magic” crystal to navigate on cloudy days. (Scientists recently unearthed evidence of one of these Viking sunstones.) ”

    A mysterious Viking sundial found in Greenland may have helped the ancient mariners sail at the same north-south latitude across the Atlantic, new research suggests.

    Very inventive those early navigators.

  31. H.R. says:

    Well, there’s always Kon-Tiki. I can see bundling reeds as possibly the earliest outrigger canoes as there is not much in the way of tools required as opposed to dugouts.

    Reed boats wouldn’t survive, but that got me thinking about images of their feats and navigation markers. Petroglyphs have survived on land, the oldest known being about 40,000 years old. If way-markings were made on rocks on the shore or by setting piles of rocks on the shore, we still wouldn’t have the evidence because we’re back to homo maritimus evidence being currently under water. And wave action during the times any markings could have been made have probably reduced their efforts to sand by now.

    Images and sand. Put a kid down on a beach and they’ll soon find a stick or use their finger to draw in the sand. Some kids will think to use pebbles and shells to make images. My guess is that it’s so easy, there was no need invent art supplies. Rocks in the sand way above high tide probably seemed permanent to them in their lifetime, but again wouldn’t survive to modern times.

    The way I see it, any of the earliest humans creative enough to make rudimentary stone tools and lash things together probably had enough creativity to doodle. Any people who traveled by sea could at least pile up rocks or place them in the sand to make useful markers for traveling. From there, it’s not a stretch that the day-dreamer in the bunch wouldn’t make something “pretty” just for the heck of it. Or maybe not. (Starving artists probably go back further than anyone can imagine. Instead of hunting and gathering, they keep ‘doing art’ and miss too many meals. In lean times, the others eat him first because he’s no good at hunting anyhow.)

  32. p.g.sharrow says:

    The creation of a dugout is not a complex under taking. Just a lot of work. A bit of fire and scraper stones or big shells and a big log in the water or at the waters edge. I could do it in a summer season while resting. The key is to use fire as a tool the char the wood that is scraped out and use water to limit the burning. Actually that artist kid was the most valued member of the clan because he was the most gifted at making the most valued tools and weapons. A good smith will never starve ;-) Now a damaged hunter is disposable if he has no other valued talents.
    I’ve been stacking stones and logs, and digging in the dirt since I was 3 years old and am still at it, nearly 70 years later. You would be amazed at how much 1 man can do over time, by hand…pg

  33. E.M.Smith says:


    Also remember that pretty much anywhere but the desert has RIVERS. You want to go somewhere, you have to cross the river, somewhere, somehow. And no, walking 2000 miles up stream to the headwaters and stepping across then walking 2000 miles back isn’t going to cut it for any given person (for a species over 10,000 years, maybe, depending on the climate at the headwaters).

    So there will be “early and often” a need for some kind of floating contraption for river crossing.

    Remember the U.S. History and Lewis & Clark. How did they explore all the way to the Columbia and back? Canoes. What were the river Indians along the way using to move around? Canoes.

    Now I can see the first ape to cross the river swimming, but pretty darned quick they will be grabbing a floating log and swimming it over, then a bigger log and putting the kid on it while they paddle it over, then… eventually carving a groove it the log to hold more stuff:

    Oldest boat found so far is now older than the last time I looked. 8000 BC so 10,000 years ago. A dugout canoe.

    I suspect the actual oldest will have been a log raft, but as soon as the twine rots it just looks like logs (or termite “do”…) so not going to be preserved much.

    IMHO, humans were using some kind of water craft (loosely defined…) as soon as they started populating anywhere outside their first hominid range; simply because they had to cross rivers. Nile, Danube, Ganges, Indus, Mekong, Ob, Yangtze, Yellow…

    So just HOW do you migrate “out of Africa” (or back) without crossing a lot of BIG rivers? Taking the shoreline isn’t going to help ( look at the Amazon… miles of water at the mouth, or the Mississippi, or the Nile…) Somewhere along the line you either “Swim with the Nile Crocks” or figure out a raft is safer… My guess is that as soon as folks were making huts and wooden corrals (originally to keep people in and big cats out…) they were skilled enough to make rafts and figured it would work with crocks too…

    So my “best guess” for first actual boat (to include rafts etc.) would be about the time of the first known large migrations out of Africa. Hundred thousand-ish years ago for homo sapiens, 400,000 for Neanderthals, and even far earlier for the earlier hominid ancestors.

    Then there’s this:

    Monkeys crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Really.
    Still: monkeys really did cross the Atlantic. Or, at least, that’s what the current evidence tells us.

    The case, in abbreviated form, goes like this:

    From the fossil record we know that monkeys originated in the Old World, but today there are many species in the New World—big, grunting howlers, lanky spider monkeys, acrobatic little marmosets, and many others, well over a hundred species in all. So the question is, how did the ancestors of these New World monkeys make it to the Americas?
    Both the fossil record and “molecular clock” studies (which use genetic data to estimate the ages of groups) indicate that monkeys first evolved something like 50 million years after the opening of the Atlantic. In other words, monkeys couldn’t have drifted with the wayward fragments of Gondwana, because there weren’t any monkeys around to drift.

    So what explanation is left?
    If monkeys aren’t products of divine creation, didn’t take a circuitous route through Siberia and Alaska, and aren’t ancient enough to have drifted with the continents, they must have made an improbable but not impossible voyage. They must have crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to South America. And given when it happened—most likely between about 30 and 40 million years ago—their transoceanic journey must have taken them over an Atlantic that was already about a thousand miles wide.

    So if Monkeys can take a raft voyage, why not people? And if people did it once, they would observe, remember and start to re-create…


    The Coracle isn’t just an Irish thing…

    The oldest instructions yet found for construction of a coracle are contained in precise directions on a four-thousand-year-old cuneiform tablet supposedly dictated by the Mesopotamian god Enki to Atra-Hasis on how to build a round “ark”. The tablet is about 2,250 years older than previously discovered accounts of flood myths, none of which contain such details. The earliest known written evidence of a coracle-type boat (quffa), still in use today, is in the Bible, Exodus
    The currachs in the River Spey were particularly similar to Welsh coracles. Other related craft include:

    India – parisal
    Iraq – kuphar or quffa
    Native American societies – bull boat
    Tibet – ku-dru and kowas
    Vietnam – thung-chai

    Different names, same idea…

    Found from Ireland to Asia. Sometimes taken to sea. Very good for fishing…

    Very similar to a skin covered dome hut, inverted… so did the hut lead to the boat, or was the boat a hut on land while migrating?…

    You might not want to go more “to sea” with them than crossing the English Channel, but for traveling along a shore and river crossings they would be ideal. Don’t forget that “portage” ability is very important for any inland exploring or travel across, but not along, rivers. Were I going to travel from California to Florida on foot / boat I’d do it with a light weight portable craft – coracle or skin canoe, not a dugout or outrigger… (Getting to Hawaii— that’s a different problem and would need a BIG outrigger ;-)

    It does look like once long distance ocean travel was the goal / common then it was large wooden boats, but before that as small tribal locally migrating people, it’s skin boats. Dugouts on larger rivers for more rapid long distance travel or really big dugouts between small close islands. Right tool for the job and all that.

  34. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes river crossings were one of the major limitations and dangers for the pioneers. If you have to cross a river you have only a limited number of options, swim it , find a wide shallow rocky section and wade across or wait until the peak summer heat and low flow to walk/swim across.

    In the spring time there was a rush to get across the rivers as soon as the snow melt allowed, even daily there are changes in river levels. The snow melt surge comes in the afternoon and into the early evening and then tapers off in the very early cool mornings near the snow fields. Farther down stream those surges are delayed by the travel time of the water flow so each portage would have an ideal time of day to cross the river. Some of the pioneer trails were shifted to make crossing rivers easier. Here in Colorado the old Cherokee trail crossed the south Platte river near the confluence with Cherry creek in what is today called the river district.
    (google maps 39.755508, -105.007580) They then went over land diagonally north west over the high ground near Rocky Mountain lake and east of Berkeley lake and then dropped down to cross Clear Creek near what is today the Tenneson avenue bridge. (google maps 39.796768, -105.043929). The party stopped for the day there and John Ralston hiked west along Clear Creek to Ralston creek which is where he made his gold discovery. in what is today Arvada Colorado. The Cherokee trail company than moved north basically along what is today highway 287 into Wyoming. In doing so they had to cross many small rivers and creeks coming off the front range of the rockies. As a result the Cherokee trail was moved to follow the east side of the Platte river (which explains places like Ft. Vasquez 40.194259, -104.820861) They then portaged the south Platte near present day Greeley then west to La Porte near Ft Collins and then north into Wyoming.

    This shift to what became known as the Trappers trail was done to make wagon passage easier, where the original old trail traveled north within easy sight of the front range of the Rockies.
    I drive part of this route to and from work and grew up with in easy walking distance of (and actually walked the route before I knew its history) into Denver from where I grew up.

    One of the lessons of history is migration routes evolve to natural paths which provide the easiest passage. By the same token those missing villages of ice age America are just off shore down stream of the earliest coastal Indian villages. As the sea level rose the natives would have moved up stream from their inundated settlements to the next best location.

  35. E.M.Smith says:


    And the wagons were designed as semi-boats so your stuff was easier to get across the rivers..

    The Conestoga wagon was built with its floor curved upward to prevent the contents from tipping and shifting. Including its tongue, the average Conestoga wagon was 18 feet (5.4 m) long, 11 feet (3.3 m) high, and 4 feet (1.2 m) in width. It could carry up to 12,000 pounds (5,400 kg) of cargo. The seams in the body of the wagon were caulked with tar to protect them from leaking while crossing rivers.

    It was designed to be a light load crossing a river by providing some buoyancy, but not so much it would float way and pivot pointing your horses up stream…

    I think this built on a long history of folks “floating their stuff” across rivers…

  36. Larry Ledwick says:

    yes very likely – an interesting short movie I think you can find on Netflix is called

    Meek’s Cut Off.

    It is sort of unique in the way it was filmed, relatively little dialog and lots of dead silence of the open prairie punctuated only by the creaking of the wagons and such. The opening segment shows the fording a small river with people wading arm pits deep in water carrying loads above the water, and the wagon making its way across. It really manages to capture the intense loneliness of the journey and how absolutely on your own you were if not traveling with a large group.

  37. tom0mason says:

    And from the 1 BC comes evidence larger boats known in Ireland….

    “The golden treasure called the Broighter Hoard was found at the site of Lough Foyle, near Limavady in Northern Ireland at the end of the 19th century. Its discoverers couldn’t believe their eyes when they made the magnificent find. The treasure is now exhibited at the National Museum of Ireland, and the Ulster Museum in Belfast has replicas. The gorgeous artifacts continue to be symbols of ancient Irish culture. ”

  38. Larry Ledwick says:

    Trailer for the movie:
    Trailer for Meek’s Cut off movie

    Quick look video of the terrain the actual Meek’s Cut off train crossed.
    Looking for a grave from the Meek’s cut off train

    I first saw this movie after I had been going out to Bonneville for a while and the fact that the Donner party mired their wagons in the salt flats mud a few miles north of the racing surface and the dead silence of the flats when you are the only one out there really made an impression on me. It is so quiet out there you almost experience sensory deprivation.

  39. Larry Ledwick says:

    Cool little video on the anatomy of the wagons.
    Pioneer wagons

  40. cdquarles says:

    @H.R., speaking on Kon-tiki, I have a memory of a National Geographic article (70s?) where a guy crossed the current Atlantic in a reed-boat replica, successfully. Now consider the ‘low water’ line at the end of the last glacial period of the current Ice Age.

  41. Gary says:

    E.M., check out Strange Maps at for all sorts of unique view of the world.

  42. Larry Ledwick says:

    History of Oregon trail immigration some interesting observations about the migration :

    Oregon Trail part 1

    Oregon Trail part 2

  43. Pingback: Maps – People’s Republic Of Clinton vs United States Of Trump | Musings from the Chiefio

  44. Graeme No.3 says:

    I found this site and if you have a few idle minutes you may like to read the bit about Mungo Man.
    I have no information about the author except that he isn’t Politically Correct, which doesn’t mean that he isn’t correct.

  45. philjourdan says:

    We buy Coke in your choice of 12 oz, 16 oz, 1 liter, or 2 liter bottles. Nobody seems to care that there isn’t a quart, or a 1/2 liter. (Or a 1/2 gallon for that matter).

    As I do not drink coke, so my information may not be true for them. However, Pepsi sells their 6 pack of plastic bottles in 1/2 liter bottles. They are close to 16oz, but a closer inspection of the label indicates they are 16.xxxx ozs, or .5 liters.

  46. philjourdan says:

    @cdquarles says: on 5 May 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Ok, so Coke is the same as Pepsi. I should have read further before commenting.

  47. Graeme No.3 says:

    Fossil evidence was found of an early species of eucalyptus already in South America roughly 52 million year ago.
    The opening of the South Atlantic Ocean divided West Gondwana (South America and Africa), but there is a considerable debate over the exact timing of this break-up as is the exact timing of Australia detaching from Antarctica and/or India (which would have been connected to Madagascar (home of the Lemurs) and hence Africa. Far fetched but…..?

  48. Larry Geiger says:

    Why aren’t we on the metric system. As John above mentioned it’s related to land parcels. Long before the metric system was even a thought in someones head we surveyed millions and millions of acres in feet, chains and miles. The US is so large it’s difficult to realize how small places like France really are. Oh yeah, we’ve never really surveyed the whole nation properly and we’ll just switch to the metric system and everyone else should too. There are millions upon millions of plat books in thousands of counties that would have needed to be updated. No one wanted to do the work and no one wanted to pay for it. At the time.

  49. E.M.Smith says:

    I think also just a whole lot of folks saying “Nah, not interested” had something to do with it…

    NOBODY in the general public wanted it, it was being foisted on us by “others” and many of them with a European tilt. Then after a few tastes of it, most folks realized it was NOT a benefit in their daily lives and just said Stuff It!…

    It wasn’t just land plats (though they were important) It was also every car speedometer every road sign with speeds or distances every set of drivers maps and home atlases, every cook book and stove and on and on…

  50. p.g.sharrow says:

    Sometimes Inertia is a good thing.
    I never could see any real benefit of conversion to metric. Every time I discus the size of something with my son or grandson, they quot in metric millimeters and I have to convert to inches. When I design something in Acad to be 3D printed I have to make sure the work is properly converted to match the printer software…pg

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