Zero to One-Eighty

October 23, 2009 / Lucy Rodgers wrestles mightily with triumphalism while providing historical background on the Prime Meridian.

Lucy it was kind of you to tell your readers why my weblog is called Zero to One-Eighty, using nothing less than the solid expository power of the bulleted list:

  • All points on the Prime Meridian are at 0° longitude
  • All other points on the earth have longitudes ranging from 0° to 180°E or from 0° to 180°W…
  • Unlike the parallels of latitude, which are defined by the rotational axis of the Earth, the Prime Meridian is arbitrary

It was an informative article—aside from all the venerable Greenwich Obervatory, historical import, British sea power ra-ra-ra—though I couldn’t shake the feeling that every time you said “arbitrary” you also meant “(but somehow so right).”


Here’s how I described the idea of Zero to One-Eighty on the About page back in the early days of the site (2005–2007):

The site’s name refers to the number of longitudinal degrees to the east and west of the Prime Meridian in Greenwhich, England (51° 28’ N 0° 0’ E/W). Brisbane is nearly at the opposite end of the globe to Greenwhich, at coordinates of 27° 28’ S 153° 02’ E. (Actually, the Antipodes Island group, at 49° 41’ S 178° 48’ E, is the nearest antipodal land point to Britain.) Of course, to most Australians it is the southern hemisphere, and not the British Isles, that represents the degree zero, and that’s really what Zero to One-Eighty is all about: perspective.

Added: April 21, 2018.

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