Reality Not So Real After All

Maps are our world writ small.

Take the world and everything upon it and then transfer that wealth of knowledge to paper or pixel and you’ve got a pretty accurate representation of what sort of reality you’d find if you looked outside your window.

Or you could be wrong. Completely wrong. As in, so wrong that an island located on world maps, Google Maps, marine charts and even Google Earth doesn’t actually exist.

So how did we find out that Sandy Island, supposedly located in the South Pacific, didn’t actually exist? Did computer dudes perform some feat of electronic legerdemain? Did the artificial intelligence birthing itself within our computers pop it’s proto-head out and let us in on the secret?

No, not really.

All it took was for a group of scientists to actually go to the spot where Sandy Island was to find out. . . it wasn’t.

Neither sandy, nor an island. Discuss.

So, yeah. That picture there to the right is supposed to show Sandy Island in all of its flyspecked glory. Those are the maps. They’re also very, very wrong.

And, even worse, they weren’t produced by asking Siri where Sandy Island is located.

The supposedly sizeable strip of land, named Sandy Island on Google maps, was positioned midway between Australia and French-governed New Caledonia.

But when scientists from the University of Sydney went to the area, they found only the blue ocean of the Coral Sea.

The phantom island has featured in publications for at least a decade.

Scientist Maria Seton, who was on the ship, said that the team was expecting land, not 1,400m (4,620ft) of deep ocean.

Interestingly, if the island had, in fact, existed, it would have been inside French territorial waters, but it’s not to be found on French maritime maps. According to Seton and other scientists, how the supposed island got onto maps in the first place is a bit of a mystery, but one they intend to solve.

One thing’s for sure, though. No matter the cause, it certainly wasn’t Google’s fault. A typically unnamed Google spokesman said his company wasn’t to blame, but that Mother Earth is looking mighty shifty right about now.

“The world is a constantly changing place and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavour.”

See? Totally not their fault. Totally.

Sadly, with the actual existence of the island now in doubt, I’m guessing my planned vacation there is right out. Ah well, I hear Atlantis is lovely this time of year.


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