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Friday, March 27, 2015

Atlantic Questions

During our visit to Tenney Grammar School in Methuen, students asked a couple of interesting questions about the Atlantic Ocean. Because we were not exactly certain of the answers, we promised to add a couple of maps to the blog, to benefit them and any other curious readers.

The first question was about the location of the Bermuda Triangle, the purported "spooky" area of the northeast Atlantic. We could point out the British dependency of Bermuda -- which is a popular destination for cruises from Boston -- but we were uncertain of the orientation of the triangle. We found this map on the Bermuda Triangle page of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a scientific agency of the U.S. Government. The page includes a link that explains the US Coast Guard's opinion about the Triangle. During our visit, we mentioned the smaller and less famous Bridgewater Triangle, named for EarthView's home town.

While Bermuda is in a warm part of the North Atlantic, the other question students had for us was about a tragedy in the colder far north. The question is about the 1912 sinking of the "unsinkable" Titanic as it voyaged from England to New York.
Astronomers at Texas State University show the location of the sinking, along with a possible path of the iceberg that was carried into the ship's path. This study was done by astronomers because of the possible role of the moon in the unexpected movement of the iceberg. In looking for such maps, we also found an interesting use of Geographic Information Systems in mapping the home locations of all of the ship's passengers.

The passenger list exhibits a concept geographers call a "distance-decay" function, meaning that the greatest number of passengers if found near the ports of origin and destination and decline with distance. Viewers of the ESRI Titanic Passengers map can explore these patterns in detail and can also separate the passengers according to economic class because tickets were sold in three very distinct classes.

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