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Imaginary Geography

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Literature and cinema, our normal means of escape from everyday life, have created places that fill our imaginations. Authors and fans alike flesh these places out with their own history and geography. The internet allows you share in the magic of creating worlds that don't exist, except in our minds. I'm sure you'll be familiar with at east some of these places, but you might not realize how well-documented they are.

L. Frank Baum wrote fourteen books about the Land of Oz, and constructed the first maps of Oz himself. These grew over time to include more detail (as more books were written) and even to include the surrounding countries.


Allakhazam's Magical Realm has a vast database of geographical knowledge of the Star Wars universe. You can look up planets and space maps, with information on the astronomy and culture of each. The entry on Tattooine features this interactive map, on which you can click for information about an area.

More maps of places that aren't, after the jump.


Maps of Atlantis have been around since ancient times. This one is from Ignatius Donelly's Atlantis: the Antediluvian World, 1882. You'll find more maps of Atlantis at Sacred Texts and at Lost Civilizations.


This interactive map of Mordor (from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy) is based on a detail of Tolkien's Middle Earth by artist John Howe. Mouseover to see place names, and click on an area to learn about it.


Star Trek Cartography has maps and charts of the Star Trek Universe, spanning the Milky Way and beyond. You can look up political boundaries, scientific data, and the journeys taken in some of the Star Trek movies.


Just last week, rfjason posted this overlay showing the size of the Starship Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) in relation to Seattle. He also has comparisons with Washington, Rome, St. Louis, and New York.


Moviefone has an interactive map of Narnia, as depicted in the movie The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Click on an area to bring up information and scenes from the film. Click on the lion to follow a character's path through the kingdom.


Kymaerica is all about a continent that looks similar to North America, but exists in a parralel universe. You'll find insanely detailed information about the geography, history and culture of this world.


Alternate history doesn't deal with an imaginary place, but is a "what if" game that can include existing but different geography. In NEU-YORK, Melissa Gould created a map of what New York might look like if the Nazis had won World War II. Detailed closeups are available at the site.

Find more at the Dictionary of Imaginary Places.

Take an virtual field trip to imaginary places Mental Floss has featured previously: the Ear Islands and City of the Apes. (Thanks, Ransom!)

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There’s a $1 Million Bounty on Bigfoot
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If you’re a Pennsylvania resident with evidence of giant ape-men trespassing in your backyard, Tom Biscardi wants to hear from you. The self-described “Godfather of Bigfoot” and his team of trackers are offering a $1 million bounty for "information leading to the capture or delivery of a bona fide Bigfoot," the Associated Press reports.

Biscardi has been searching for Bigfoot for 50 years. He was inspired to start the lifelong quest in 1967 after watching the Patterson-Gimlin film, a 59-second clip of what appears to be a large, furry creature striding around Bluff Creek in California.

In the time since, Biscardi has produced Bigfoot documentaries, launched a Bigfoot-hunting podcast, and founded Searching for Bigfoot, Inc., an organization dedicated to locating the legendary creature. Now he’s calling on the public to share any leads they may have on the cryptid’s whereabouts.

The hefty reward means the Searching for Bigfoot team is investigating up to 30 tips a day, most of which end up going nowhere. Most recently, Biscardi and his team, which includes his son T.J. and his grandson Tommy, were lured to the woods of Crawford County, Pennsylvania in search of hard evidence. They found one eroded heel print and sticks in unnatural arrangements, but Sasquatch himself was a no-show. "I want a creature," T.J. Biscardi told AP. "I'm done with pictures, done with prints, done with hair samples, done with fecal matter."

Even if they are able to capture a specimen of an animal most scientists agree doesn’t exist, convincing the public of its authenticity will be a challenge. Tom Biscardi has been involved with a few hoaxes in his career, including the discovery of a frozen Bigfoot “body” that turned out to be a rubber suit. Then there’s the legal complications involved with hunting a Bigfoot: Shooting the hypothetical beast for sport is against the law in some states, so Pennsylvania citizens might want to check with their wildlife department before setting off to claim the $1 million trophy.

[h/t WPXI]

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7 Myths About Eggs, Debunked
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Brown eggs or white eggs, cage-free or free-range—what does it all mean? We've cracked down on seven myths that still abound regarding these incredible edibles.


If you’ve been restricting your breakfast options to an egg-white omelet, you may be suffering needlessly. Egg yolks do contain more fat and cholesterol than egg whites, but studies over the last few decades have shown that a) not all fat is bad for you; and b) consuming foods high in cholesterol does not necessarily translate to having higher blood cholesterol, although there are still groups, especially diabetics and those with heart disease, who are recommended to abstain. Still not sure if yolks are safe for you? Talk to your doctor.


Refrigeration requirements depend on one surprising factor: where you are in the world. American eggs should all be kept cold, while eggs in other countries can sit out on the counter for days. That’s because U.S. egg producers—and producers in Japan, Scandinavia, and Australia—are required to wash their eggs to prevent salmonella. This washing process strips the eggs of their natural protection, making it essential to keep them chilled to fend off pathogens and spoilage.


"Cage-free," "free-range," and "humanely raised" are not the same thing. Chickens on so-called "cage-free" farms are usually crowded into pens, which are essentially just big cages. To keep the crowded birds from hurting each other, many producers cut or burn off the sharper parts of the hens’ beaks when they’re still young. And most kill male chicks as soon as they’re born, since they have no commercial value. If you want to be sure that your eggs come from happy chickens, look for the Certified Humane label or buy your eggs from small, local farms.


The color of the egg is related to the color of the chicken—just not its feathers. Brown eggs tend to come from chickens with red earlobes (yes! Earlobes!). White eggs generally come from chickens with white earlobes. The next time you see a hen, take a look and see if you can guess what color her eggs will be (although there are always exceptions to this rule, so perhaps don't bet any money on it).


We understand where this might come from—we’ve been told that brown bread is healthier than white bread, and brown rice is better than white. Why would eggs be different? Because, unlike rice and wheat flour, white eggs are naturally white. Their nutritional composition is no better or worse than those of brown eggs.


An egg is an egg, whether it’s been fertilized or not. This is as true for chickens as it is for people. Women ovulate, and hens lay eggs. The majority of eggs for sale today are unfertilized and couldn’t become chickens even if you wanted them to.


Does the idea of eating a fertilized egg horrify you? Relax. It’s a rare, rare egg indeed that actually contains a chicken fetus. The majority of fertilized eggs contain cells that could potentially develop into a chick—if they hadn’t been refrigerated and then scrambled for your omelet. These eggs are not better for you than unfertilized eggs, nor are they any worse.


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