Variety is the spice of life, they say.

What do you mean, “Who?”

THEY! Them over there!

And they are right. So, today, I will share a few online things for you to explore.

As always, if you do decide to go online, do so with permission from your parents / guardians / teachers and, if possible, under their supervision. Again, as they say, “It is for your good only.”

  1. Pātālam vraja – For some reason, in many cultures, up is seen as the geographical direction towards the sacred. The stupas, spires, minars, gopurams … all rise skyward. It is quite rare to see sacred sites for which you go under (By the way, pātālam vraja = go underground)The word pātālanether world­ – in Samskrtam is used as a synonym for hades (hell); a place of enormous heat. In some cultures it is seen as a place of eternal torture for the soul. All in all, not exactly a luxury resort!To get to hades, you go under the crust of Earth and towards the core. The core, of course, is rather warm. Suppose you keep going through the center of Earth in a single straight line. And suppose you are somehow able to keep going (probably because you have had your rāgi muddey or curd rice like a good little child). You come out on the other side of Earth. The point where you would re-emerge is called the antipode. In geography the antipodes are diametrically opposite places. The word comes to us from the Greek anti (opposite) and pode (referring to foot). [In biology, you will probably have studied arthropoda, gastropoda, etc. the names refer to ‘feet’!]I am a strong advocate of idle curiosity! As a child in the neolithic age, I had few gadgets to keep me occupied or distracted. Idle curiosity was the option. You should try it. It’s a lot of fun. And you can use gadgetry also to do that. This, at last, brings me to the first interactive that I want to share with you today. [Note: “A few” gadgets = Some gadgets; “few” gadgets = no gadgets.]Pick a place. Any place. Imagine you dig down in a straight line passing through the center of Earth – yes, this is a diameter – and re-emerge at the antipode of that place. What is the antipode to the place you picked? And, mathematically, you can have practically unlimited numbers of diameters, you can find zillions of antipodes at this site.

    Antipode of Bengaluru, India. (Source: https://goo.gl/CuwX2e) Accessed on 5 Sep. 2018. Click on the image to view a larger version. (Link will open in a new tab)

  2. How much hotter is your home town – The antipode exploration may have been fun. This exploration is decidedly alarming. Rising global temperatures is a reality. Overwhelmingly, scientific evidence confirms that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is real and that it is leading to change in Earth’s climate. Anthropo = human; genic = caused by; thus, “caused by humans.” The scientists show evidence that AGW is a real and present threat.There are some scientists who dispute the reality of AGW; they argue that this warming is just part of a natural cycle of warming and cooling that Earth has gone through during its entire history.Popular opinion on this is divided. A vast majority of school children are taught that the AGW is real and seriously threatens our lives.Here, then, is an interactive that tells you how the average temperatures of your home town have changed from the year you were born, and how it is likely to change in the future. So, give it a go.But your home town may not be in the database used for this interactive. Why might this be? This is an interesting geography question to ponder. The answer is quite simple. Yes! I promise. But why should I tell you the answer? (Yes, I am very wicked, I know.)Let your idle curiosity loose. Let it take you to exploration of other towns and other years as your starting points and see how the temperatures have changed and how they might change in the future.Pick places from an atlas. If the data for a place are in the database and it shows the temperature change for that place, great. Now, compare different places and see how the temperature changes for them. How similar or different are those trends (this will help you practice your graph-reading skills)? What might be some reasons for these similarities/differences (this will help you apply your knowledge of climate controls – factors that decide what the climate of a place is; see the diagram)? This exercise helps you to ask geography questions and to reason out the answers. This activity is best done in a group!

    What? The link? What link? OH!! Yes, of course. Here it is. (Note: This link may be slow or non-functional at times!)

 

  1. Real and imaginary geographies. As I have always told anyone who would listen, there is no story without geography (space) and history (time). What if there is no real place to locate a story in? Or real history? Well, make them up! That’s what writers of fiction do all the time. Writers such as P G Wodehouse and R K Narayan (and many others) are widely-read and enjoyed precisely because they have made up places and times as settings for their stories.Those of you who are into video games should be able readily to relate to this whole concept of imaginary places and times as settings for imagined lives and actions. I am not a gamer, myself. However, from what little I know about video games, they are rich with imagined geographies. Since these are ‘located’ in computers, you may think of them as virtual Or digital geographies, even.When you start mapping imaginary places, now that takes on an entirely extra dimension of fun and exploration. Explore both real and imaginary geographies mapped at this site: https://goo.gl/RiIsjS

    World without heroes, virtual geography. (Source: https://goo.gl/RiIsjS) Accessed on 5 Sep. 2018. Click on the link to see this and other virtual geographies.

Beware, however, these explorations can be addictive. Remember, you have the Syllabus god, the Assessment god, and the Board god to be obedient to! So, be wise in your use of your time!


A version of this article appeared in the Deccan Herald Student Edition on 5 September 2018.

Featured image: World without heroes, virtual geography. (Source: https://goo.gl/RiIsjS) Accessed on 5 Sep. 2018.

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