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THE BACKGROUND OF THE STORY

11

eastern and western hemispheres. Even the finest map
collections in the United States were without a good-
sized map of the northern hemisphere until, in 1922,
one was issued by the U. S. Weather Bureau, perhaps
under pressure of the modern necessity of considering
the northern half of the earth as a unit from the aero-
nautical point of view.2

When we look at maps of the eastern and western
hemispheres we are scarce better off. We do realize
that the Arctic is not so huge as it seems on the flat
Mercator, but it still remains at the top of the map and
in so far confirms the Mercator illusion of its being at
one end of the earth. Of course, there is nothing wrong
about dividing the earth into eastern and western hemis-
pheres. But neither is it wrong to picture the globe by
northern and southern hemisphere maps, though it is
seldom done. If we do it we see that the arctic frontier
of the great land masses does not run in a straight hori-
zontal line as on a Mercator, but forms instead a horse-
shoe. This horseshoe is much smaller than you would
have thought, for the Arctic Ocean is tiny when com-
pared with any of the other oceans. If it were dreadful
and uncrossable by aircraft it could be avoided. If you
can not cross the Gobi Desert you can always go around it.

Maps of the northern and southern halves of the earth
show that the great land masses of the world are in the
northern hemisphere. It is important from the political
and economic point of view (since we do not inhabit
the ocean) that the Arctic on such a map or on a globe
looks like a hub from which the continents radiate like
the spokes of a wheel. This gives it an immediate impor-
tance which is bound to increase as the settlements creep

2 For a map of the entire northern half of the earth, see back of this volume.

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