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SUBMITTED by Gil Burgess, Wayne County Historical Society Map Club (15-Apr-2010)

Gary Fitzpatrick did a very informative presentation at April's Map Club Meeting using the Library of Congress website and a projector--which could have gone a little more smoothly if perhaps he was a regular user of Steve Jobs' products. It turns out that Gary worked in the Maps Division of the Library of Congress for something like 33 years and he said that when showing Mr. Jobs through the Maps Division one time he did refrain from making any negative comments to him!

Anyway, Gary gave us some instruction on digital mapping and projected an image of a map acquired about 10 years ago by the L.O.C. for $12 million. The date of this map was 1507 and it is the earliest map known to have the name "America" on it. This led to further discussion and Gary explained that it was known to astronomers as far back as 600 B.C. that the Earth is round and that in 200 A.D. Ptolomy had to decide between 2 formulas to make a world map. One formula put the Earth's circumference at 25,000 miles and the other at 18,000. He selected 18,000 and the most familiar result of that was Columbus thinking that he had arrived in Asia instead of what we know as the "West Indies."

The presentation continued on from there with Gary enlightening us with a lot of interesting background information about maps including the "Tiger Files" and GIS and GPS.

The icing on the cake was Gary's showing us a book he just had published entitled "Islands, Codes and Vampires" which is intended as a spoof to Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code". Gary said that in that book Mr. Brown omitted mention of a plaque in a Parisian street with has the name "Arago" on it which is a key to something! It looks like it will be fun to read!

Thanks Gary for sharing your expertise. We're looking forward to more!

Stay tuned to Wayne County Life for the date and subject of the next meeting of Map Club.


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