[ASC-list] SOMBOMB and the Atlas of Living Australia

Lamberts Rod rod.lamberts at anu.edu.au
Mon Feb 17 04:16:56 UTC 2014

Fond of Atlases? 
Fan of living? 
Flove Australia?

Then this SCOMBOMB is for you, because we have Dr John LaSalle, Director of the Atlas of Living Australia 

This Thursday Feb 20 @ 3:00

Rodneyrick and Billhelm


The first known atlas dates back to 47,000 BC.*

It was made of mud.

It didn’t have much detail.

And it may not have been an atlas.

Since then, the only interesting thing to happen to atlases was when Ayn Rand made one shrug during the 1950s. That is, until Dr John La Salle came along. He is the director of the Atlas of Living Australia, and it’s a fekofting brilliant feat of science, communication and the fine art of Atlasery.

This week on SCOMBOMB we chat with John and ask him what’s his favourite font and why his Altas doesn’t include manticores or unicorns. 

* Please note these words were written by Rod and are deeply deeply wrong. Typically Will doesn’t care about this but as someone who did a lot of research on the history of cartography he feels that such points shouldn’t be made so flippantly without at least a footnote of strident quibbling. Many (though certainly not all) historians of cartography point to the 7th millennium BCE map at Çatal Höyük as perhaps the world’s oldest extant map. The first collections of maps (what we would today know as an atlas) are now lost, but were certainly in existence in the Homeric world of ancient Greece. Ptolemy (90 – 168 CE), of course, represents one of the first known thinkers to attempt to systematise geographical representation, and the first known cartographers to attempt a mapping of the known world. The concept of an atlas as a systematic representation of a geographical total (ie, an atlas of the world) didn’t emerge until the early age of european exploration in the 16th and 17th centuries CE. The first association of the Titan Atlas with a collection of maps appears to have been made by Antonio Lafreri on the Tavole moderne di geografia de la maggior parte del mondo di deversi autori.

Dr RG Lamberts

Deputy Director
Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science (CPAS)
A Centre for the National Commission of UNESCO

Office G10
Physics Link Building (#38a)
College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200
P: +61 2 6125 0747
F: +61 2 6125 8991
twitter: @rodl
Cricos Provider #00120C

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