U is for Upside Down

Most everyone I’ve ever met who lives, or has lived, in what we generally call the Southern Hemisphere suggest that there is a bias by their Northern brethern (and sisterern), in terms of language. It’s autumn! Except that it’s spring below the equator. I suppose it’s a function of the Northern Hemisphere being about 3/5 water, and 2/5 land, while the Southern Hemisphere is about 4/5 water and 1/5 land. So about 2/3 of the land mass is in the Northern Hemisphere.

But what if creatures came from outer space. Would they see it the same way that most cartographers have trained us to see the planet? Or would they assume that the land mass – Antarctica – we say is at the bottom of the world is actually at the top? Maybe when they draw the maps of that third rock from Sol, it would look like the map above.

I’ve discovered that “South Up” maps have a long history; check here for more information; one can purchase such maps from ODT, e.g.

Those of us in the North probably find the maps disconcerting. It IS uncomfortable being what we perceive to be upside down. Borrowers with negative equity, when one owes more than a property is worth, are said to be “upside down” on their mortgages, a too common occurrence in the United States in recent years.

Being upside down isn’t always bad, though. On various rides at a carnival, or while tumbling, being upside down is what provides the thrill. The difference is that one is righted at the end.

Then there is the pure joy of pineapple upside down cake.

I have no better ending than the obvious: Diana Ross singing Upside Down.

ABC Wednesday – Round 9

0 thoughts on “U is for Upside Down”

  1. I knew it!! I knew it!! Roger, I knew it all the time! You are a true PHILOSOPHER, and nobody can deny it! Whenever I arrive in Australia I don’t feel upside down. I feel terribly jetlagged. Your post gives me something to think about. Thank you! Good post!


  2. I think you’re right about the upside down map — it certainly looks alien!

    I only have my time in South Africa to base my southern hemisphere experience on, but it was odd to to see the sun in the north and for it to cross the sky from right to left. It threw my normally good sense of direction entirely.


  3. You have reinvented the theory of relativity. Point is, it’s always good to remember that we will establish our bearings by our own egocentric framework. It will go a long way to convincing us there is nothing default about understanding where another person is coming from.


  4. I enjoyed this post and I actually think it would be good for children to have access to flat maps drawn both ways. I remember the first time I really understood what it meant for the world to be round. I was looking at a globe and realized that some places at opposite ends of the map aren’t as far away as they seems if the flat map is curled in like a globe. Spatial issues have always been my weak point but I bet I wasn’t the only kid that took a while to be able to relate a flat map to a globe.


  5. Man, that cake looks good! (I’m on a diet right now) I do have a friend in Melbourne and tease him a bit about being upside down and driving on the “wrong side of the road.” But he takes it all in good fun! Great post and have the ultimate of weeks,

    abcw team


  6. Hello.
    Even though earth was created for us all to inhabit, there’s always been the north:south, east:west: divide. I never liked geography, but I found the information about the topsy turvy map quite interesting. Wonder what effect that would have on the Dow Jones/financial markets if everyone decided topsy turvy was the way to go?

    BTW, I love pineapple upside down cake & Diana Ross too.
    Great post.
    Thanks for sharing & visiting. Your comments are appreciated (I see you’re spellbound by that red dress…lol)!

    For ref:
    Under Your Spell


  7. To me all maps are disconcerting ! I can’t even read them. For me north is “up” South is “down”, east is “left” and west is “right” or is it the other way around ? I am hopeless !


  8. That’s a pretty clever juxtapositioning of cake and map, Roger. Thanks goodness for gravity and the illusion of being right side up so we can enjoy our upside down cakes without dribbling. πŸ™‚


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