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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Modern Day Cartography: The Art of Map Making


The Business of Map Making

Cartography is a fascinating and diverse body of work. The production of maps is a huge business these days. Recent reports put estimates for contractors and employees devoted to Google’s digital cartographic presences at over 7,000. That’s 7,000 people who’s primary mission is making sure that Google Maps and Google Earth software and updates run smoothly. With the technological advanced made possible by extensive staffing at Google it is quite easy to forget that very intricate maps can be charted and generated by one individual. Paper maps are very much a part of modern life in the twenty-first century and continue to be reliable sources of guidance for specialized interests such as geocaching, trailblazing or topography. Cellular signals aren’t available every where and every once in a while travelers in remote area find themselves reaching for a paper copy of Rand McNally instead of the reaching for an Android to access Google Maps.

 IMAX Globe

Days of the Early Explorers

Maps have been apart of our lives since the days of widespread global exploration when men like Cristopher Colombus, Prince Henry the Navigator and Ponce De Leon attempted to record the landscape. The Planet that we call home is vast and through different symbols, colors, lines and shapes we have endeavored to capture the topography of Mother Earth. The earliest recorded example of cartography was discovered in Anatolia and dates back to around 6000 BC. A wall painting spanning several feet provides depictions of a small town and several structures including buildings and a volcano.

Google Maps

Modern Day Map Making

Modern cartography represents a convergence of science, innovation, exploration and art. We still appreciate maps made by artisans such as Mercator, however their present function is as valued relics not practical tools to guide a modern day voyage. The modern day discipline of cartography uses advanced tools and software instead of compasses and sundials to chart the earth. Advances in technology have bridged the gap between social networking, communications and travel. Many of us use maps on a daily basis in the form of Google or Apple's apps and operating systems. While searching for a hiking trail or looking for the nearest gas station to refuel, interactive maps available through mobile devices have changed the way we experience navigation. Technological development have also changed the way maps are created. Aerial photography means that sending large numbers of surveyors and mapmakers into the countryside is a thing of the past. Computer assisted design has further enhanced the make making process. The widespread development and application of geographic information systems, global positions systems and satellite sensing devices are all used to create the newest generation of maps.

Pittsburgh Wall Map

Check out our collection of maps, globes and atlases to learn more about geography

Friday, April 21, 2017

Earth Day April 22, 2017- A Day to Learn, A Day to Grow

April 22, 2017 marks the 47th Anniversary of Earth Day, a global initiative to demonstrate a commitment to environmental conservation efforts. Various issues of political and social concern have come to the forefront with pressing matters such as climate change and global warming in recent years. This year Google has revealed their plans to release a new version of Google Earth especially for 2017. 

Environmental Protection Agency and Policy Changes

Environmental science and conscientious consumers have joined forces over the last 40 plus years to create a sort of counterculture in the Western World, concerns about air and water quality have turned the Environmental Protection Agency into a household name.  In 1962 Rachel Carson' New York bestseller Silent Spring was published and this was a catalyst for increasing public awareness regarding the correlation between pollution and public health. That first Earth Day in 1970 gave a tangible voice to the need to protect the environment. 1970 saw the creation of United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passing of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. 

Global Activism and Cooperation

Fast forward to Earth Day 2000 and by this time Earth Day blossomed into an international grassroots activist endeavor. Citizens around the world united to express a desire for decisive action on issues impacting global warming and clean energy. In 2010, Earth Day Network brought 250,000 people to the National Mall for an the largest environmental service project to date. A Billion Acts of Green, a global reforestation campaign that has developed into The Canopy Project. Earth Day celebrations and initiatives have grown and developed to include over 192 countries and has become the largest secular day of observance.

Oregon Scientific Smart Infinity Globe

The Oregon Scientific Smart Infinity

There is one planet that we all call home and it requires a join responsibility to maintain clean air, water and food to sustain its citizens. One of the best ways to instill respect and appreciate for the planet is to teach kids about different places and cultures. A globe like the Oregon Scientific Smart Infinity is a great way to teach your kids about the world around them this Earth Day. This globe overs wireless exploration with the accompanying Smart Pen. A local supplemental map for geography lessons as well as Apps for interactive learning and a connection to a PC for updated, current information. This device includes over 30 fun and educational activities and a Micro SD car provided content memory storage. Audio notes can be recorded with the Smart Pen. At 13-inches x 11inches x 15 inches this is the perfect size to fit in a child's lap or be taken on a road trip. The  Oregon Smart Infinity Globe can help children develop a sense of global consciousness. An understanding that Planet Earth is home to many different people, animals and other life forms helps encourage a respectful and responsible attitude. Respect for the planet is about simple things like not littering. There are so many simple steps a person can take to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Check out our website for more information about this and other globes

Friday, April 14, 2017

Daylight Savings, Time Zone and the Prime Meridian

A Different Way to Look at Geography

When you think about time zones you probably don't think about globes but here is a new application for geography. All around the world there are different time zones. Time zones aren’t something that you think about very much unless you travel or have friends or relatives in other parts of the world. The biannual confusion associated with Daylight Savings Time is a reminder of this fact. The most familiar time zone is Greenwich Mean Time, Greenwich Mean Time sets the standard for all other time zones. The Prime Meridian serves as a guideline for navigation, commerce, shipping and transportation. The concept of Greenwich Mean Time was first established in 1675 by the Royal Observatory, to assist navigators and explorers while at sea. By using different navigation instruments experienced seamen could identify their location while in the middle of the ocean.

Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian 

Before the Greenwich Mean Time was established, the time of day would be calculated with a sun dial using solar time. The time in each location would be different, but using the sun dial provided an accurate representation of local time. Throughout the 17th -19th centuries mechanical clocks and watches began to increase in popularity, sun dials weren’t exactly something you could transport. As technology increased additional methods of establishing time were developed. This lead to official time zones all around the globe, these time zones were determined by the Earth’s orbit around the sun and the 24-hour periods which we call a day.  Each time zone covers approximately 15 degrees of width on the map or globe. Technically there are 24 time zones, the International Date Line is considered to be Time Zone by some, that is up for scientific debate.

 Daylight Savings Time and the International Date Line

Just like with Daylight Savings Time, there is not a universal consensus regarding the implementation of time zones. The International Date Line is not an exact, straight line, rather it is a general guideline that helps travelers know when they have crossed gone forward or backward a day. This is an imaginary line that exists at about 180 degrees east or west of the Greenwich Meridian.

If you take a globe or map and look at the Prime Meridian that can help you determine where the different time zones lie. Not only is a globe a great way of learning about countries and various landmarks. A globe can be used to help figure out what time it is in a different part of the world.

A One of a Kind Globe, the Starlight

Check out a globe like the Starlight below and brush up on your knowledge of different places. You will gain a better understanding of time zones, landmarks and the ever-changing world around you. 
This stylish and unique globe features black oceans, which are a striking contrast to the brightly colored continents. The Starlight features a 12 inch sphere with jet black oceans mounted on a satin chrome finished metal stand. A full swing meridian and geopolitical boundaries and description in raised relief complete this one of a kind look. The combined height of both sphere and stand reach 16 inches. What a great conversation piece for a desktop or coffee table!


Friday, April 7, 2017

3 Reasons Why You Should Study Geography and Buy a Globe

As our world develops and become more integrated the physical distance between countries matters less and less, India, Hong Kong, New Zealand or Brazil are only a computer screen away. The rise of various forms of innovative communication technology mean that there is a good chance that you will find yourself interacting with someone from another country if you operate within the business world. Long gone are the days of mail correspondence being the primary form of communication. Open a computer screen, listen to a webinar or contact tech support for any major company and there is a  good chance that your conversation will be taking place with someone from another country.

There are so many fascinating things to study when it pertains to geography. Geography isn't just about globes and maps. Geography is a tangible record of the attempts of mankind to analyze and understand the various landscapes, landmarks and living organisms that call Planet Earth their home.
Each of the six continents features many languages, people groups, faith traditions, socio-political affiliations, currencies and social nomenclatures.

There is a good chance that in elementary school you found social studies classes less than interesting. However over time it has become more evident how relevant an understanding of geography is to life in modern times.  Here are three reasons why you should study geography

Smart Globe Infinity

1. Understanding Geography helps to add a balance perspective

A good understanding of geography can help you make a favorable impression on professors, employers and those you interact with in daily life. Learning how to interpret maps and globes is a foundational skill that will serve you for a life time. Knowledge of geography is applicable to so many aspects of life. Knowing capital cities, official languages and faith traditions can make interacting with people from other countries so much easier.  A skill that useful for landing a job, a date, or just improving your communication skills in general.

2. Making Sense of Current Events

Familiarity with different regions of the world allows you to process current events in context. Understanding why conflict exist in certain parts of the world has much to do with geography. The Middle East, the United Kingdom, the Democratic Republic of Congo, all have a measure of ongoing conflict that is impacted by geography. Understanding the various languages spoken in a country also has a lot to do with geography. If you know geography and understand the history of colonization you'll understand why Portuguese is spoken in Portugal, Brazil and Angola. If you understand geography the varying lifestyles of different people groups in Africa makes sense. The different styles of architecture and building across the continents also make sense. In Northern Africa namely Egypt you find the pyramids, in Southern Africa you find the complex of Great Zimbabwe, each structure
makes use of material indicative of that region.


3. Practical Applications of Geography to Travel Plans

An understanding of geography can help you navigate the world around you more efficiently. Knowing how to read a map or understand a globe and the various symbols can help you navigate your community much more easily. Finding new places like a doctor's office, new restaurant or park is so much easier when you are familiar with direction like North, South, East and West. If you travel overseas being familiar with the climate and terrain of a new environment can help you have a more enjoyable time and prepare accordingly. If you are visiting a country like Peru with high altitude and mountains, you will account for the possibility of altitude sickness. If you understand the difference in climate patterns you will understand that visiting parts of the United Kingdom require rain gear and if you are visit England during the winter time you want to be prepared for snow and sleet. If you visit Australia or New Zealand in July it will be Winter time. The Southern Hemisphere experiences the season in the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere.

To learn more about geography or purchase one of our globes or maps visit

Friday, March 24, 2017

Interior Design and Maps in 2017: National Geographic Mural Map

Few decorative pieces convey undisputed sophistication and wisdom the way that a world map  does. The National Geographic Executive Political World Map Mural embodies this air of elegance and erudition effortlessly. Style and statement are the focus of many trends in today's decor and this beautifully crafted map makes it easy to eloquently bring out the boldness in your home or office. Grace your walls with this regal centerpiece that makes an excellent addition to rooms with subdued and neutral tones, as well as spaces with more vibrant palettes. This stunning, award-winning classic executive map of the world in an impressive mural sized masterpiece. Featuring Winkel Tripel Projection where each inch of space represents 206 miles, you can expect superior cartographic detail and accuracy paired with astounding artistry. Place this beautiful wanderlust inspiring map in your home or office as a truly distinct and elegant addition. This map can easily be affixed with three latex coated panels, which adhere just like wallpaper.

How a World Map Can Redefine the Look and Feel of Your Space

For the perfect blend of intrigue and sophistication, the detailed imagery of a world map like the this one will especially make a charming addition to rooms with hardwood flooring or furnishings in gold or copper. If you seek ways to add a substantial statement piece to your living room, dining room, home office or bedroom, a world map is an excellent way to decorate your personal space with a one of a kind nostalgic backdrop that will leave a lasting impression in the most sophisticated of ways. As more designers embrace the concept of international themes throughout homes and offices, world maps are becoming more desirable for those who seek to add an exclusive spotlight piece to their personal space. For a stylish and breathtaking addition to your room, a mural-sized world map can completely redefine your room.

National Geographic Executive Political World Map Mural

A Natural and Rustic Piece of Functional Art

With regard to flooring trends, brushed finishes give a natural and rustic feel to a home or space, which brings out elements such as ingrained textures. With a nod to nostalgic or period elements, this World Map Mural is a must have addition to your home or office and would pair perfectly with this up and coming style. More and more people are decorating their space with considerations from the ground up. Draw together both your floor and surrounding space with the encompassing old-world elegance of this beautiful world map. Mixed patterns are another area that is trending in today's decor. Fully embracing busier elements in the home and office, a world map mural will be right at home as an enticing and accentuating piece, lending another element of versatility to your space. Also, with more emphasis being placed on textured furnishings, a National Geographic Executive Political World Map Mural adds creativity and vitality.