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Friday, May 14, 2010

Eliot School in Needham -- May 14

42º 18' 23" N
71º 14' 19" W

Thanks to Steve Morse for his wonderful lat/long finder! Use it to find the angular distance from the Eliot School to your house or to any place on earth. Use it with a globe to find the school's antipode -- the place on the exact opposite side of the earth.

You can also use the latitude and longitude of the school to calculate the angular distances (that is, how many degrees of latitude north or south and how many degrees of longitude east or west) the school is from the oil well that is currently leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. On the map below, the well is shown as a red X at "Mississippi Canyon 252" and the grid shows latitudes and longitudes. (Click the map to enlarge, see the complete map here, or see all of the maps from the incident here.) This is a forecast map -- it was made yesterday, but shows where geographers and other scientists expect the oil to be today. How can they make predictions like that?

The name of the Eliot School has an interesting history. John Eliot translated the Bible into the Algonquin language, which was remarkable for several reasons. First, to do so he had to create a written version of what had been a spoken language. Second, the printing itself came more than a century ahead of any other Bible printed in North America.

EarthView team member Dr. Hayes-Bohanan has actually met missionaries in the Amazon rain forest of Brazil who do similar work. The Summer Institute of Linguistics studies the languages of indigenous people in order to create written versions of their languages, so that they can then teach them to read in their own languages. They then publish Bibles and other materials in those languages. Today, the work of such scholar/missionaries is controversial. What could be some reasons in favor of and against doing such work?

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