Ze Frank is a web performance artist who first came to prominence back at the dawn of web time with his “how to dance properly” page. Among his many creations is something called the Earth sandwich. The idea is to imagine two people standing on opposite sides of the Earth. At the same instant, they each put a piece of bread on the ground: Earth sandwich.
This is one of my favorite Google Maps mashups. Since you can click and drag the points around so easily, you learn a lot about hemispheric geography that is hard to work out with a typical map. For instance, most of the Earth’s land is above the equator. It’s actually pretty hard to find two interesting places that make a good sandwich. Argentina and China are good antipodal friends, and Spain pairs neatly with New Zealand, but mostly it’s lots and lots of water. Australia drops straight into the Atlantic Ocean, and Africa is lost in mid-Pacific.
Not only is most of the Earth’s land in the north, most of the southern hemisphere’s land is in the northern part of that hemisphere. The Cape of Good Hope, at the very tip end of Africa, looks like it goes a long way south, but in relative terms it only dips as far below the Equator as Las Vegas is above it. All of Europe is above that latitude. Only Cape Horn, poking its godforsaken toe into the circumpolar storm belt around Antarctica, pushes into what we would normally consider high northern latitudes. At 56 degrees south, it matches up with Edinburgh and the dangling tails of Alaska.