Start Your Week with a Map!
October 13, 2016 5:16 PM   Subscribe

"Every Monday morning, we will post a new map on this site. The maps will be unlabeled, uncaptioned thematic maps with no scales or legends.... For each week’s map, your job is simple: figure out what data is being presented by the map. To solve the map, you have to find the clues on it and come up with an explanation that ties them all together."

"Each day, we will add new hints that will help you figure out how to solve the map. If you’re stumped by the blank map on Monday, check back for new information and suggestions that will guide you as you explore the map. On Friday, the fourth hint of the week should make the map solvable for most people who have taken the time to explore the map in detail."
posted by DevilsAdvocate (73 comments total) 84 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well this is wonderful.

Thanks for sharing it!
posted by notyou at 5:20 PM on October 13, 2016


This map website is .... wait for it ... Legendary.

I'm not sorry.
posted by Fizz at 5:23 PM on October 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


❤️
posted by hilaryjade at 5:56 PM on October 13, 2016


Nice find. Delightful.
posted by klarck at 6:39 PM on October 13, 2016


Ok, so what does Chamonix, Biarritz, and Cayenne have in common?
posted by stowaway at 7:28 PM on October 13, 2016


Not so much in common: "Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, would require fully eighteen isolines beyond the level of Biarritz and Chamonix."

I think the answer to the current map is (roughly) the map shown in Fig. 10 on this page. (Spoiler, obviously. )
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:12 PM on October 13, 2016


lovely.
posted by sibboleth at 9:05 PM on October 13, 2016


Well, there goes what shred of Monday productivity I ever have, anyway.
posted by rokusan at 10:31 PM on October 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I got the same answer as DevilsAdvocate (puzzled before peeking) so I think we're on the right track. It's the "Western slope of mountains" and "Cayenne is SO much higher" that made me look for this specific stat, and when I found Biarritz in a list of top French cities with that stat, I was pretty confident I got it.
posted by easternblot at 2:39 AM on October 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Has anyone tried submitting the answer and seeing how fast the reply is?
posted by Karmakaze at 9:43 AM on October 14, 2016


Wow. This is really neat, and I had a lot of fun clicking through the hints, but damn does it ever point out how little I know about the world.
posted by Naib at 9:46 AM on October 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I submitted for the latest one a couple days ago and haven't heard back. I've guessed them all pretty easily so far, which I think means that I spend too much time reading poorly labeled maps in papers and trying to puzzle out what the author is showing.
posted by fshgrl at 9:59 AM on October 14, 2016


Except map 5. I finally gave in and looked at the answer and wow, never would have got that one.
posted by fshgrl at 10:04 AM on October 14, 2016


I was charmed by map 6 — stumped by it, but then when I looked at the answer it was one of those "Oh, I should have thought of that" moments. Well, maybe not the exact statistic, but I hadn't even thought of the general topic. I especially spent some time pondering the Thursday clue on that one: what did London, Chicago, Glasgow, Paris, and Budapest — and those cities only — have in common in 1900?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:23 AM on October 14, 2016


Budapest gave that one away for me immediately!
posted by fshgrl at 10:43 AM on October 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I haven't read all of the comments yet because I don't want spoilers, but I am enjoying this site so much! It combines my love of puzzles/mysteries with learning fun facts about other countries and cities and whatnot. It also helps me supplement my woefully lacking knowledge of geography, because when I was taught geography in school, it was pretty much exclusively devoted to memorizing state capitals and filling in maps with the names of countries, which is fine, but for years I thought I hated geography because I didn't realize it could also involve learning actual facts about other countries like economies, climates, etc.

Thanks for posting this! I'm having so much fun!
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:53 AM on October 14, 2016


Living in Glasgow, thinking of what we were one of the first out of the gate for before 1900 and then have made next to no progress on since then was a dead giveaway. Geez.
posted by eykal at 4:00 PM on October 14, 2016


The one this week is super hard. I'm kinda stumped right now.
posted by fshgrl at 11:52 AM on October 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is there a place online, a forum/message board where people can discuss this week's challenge? Seems like that could be interesting.
posted by monospace at 12:12 PM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I figured it out now. PM me if you want to discuss!
posted by fshgrl at 1:30 PM on October 17, 2016


I have no idea what this one could even be. What do Saudi Arabia, Bhutan and Western Sahara have in common? That Russia has zero of?
posted by vasi at 7:06 PM on October 17, 2016


Maybe this is appropriate for Fanfare? Mods?
posted by notyou at 7:36 PM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not Fanfare, but it's fine to discuss it in here.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:50 PM on October 17, 2016


What do Saudi Arabia, Bhutan and Western Sahara have in common? That Russia has zero of?

Those three places have quite a bit in common actually. If I'm right, which I'm really pretty sure I am, "what do they have in common with Greenland?" was the key to narrowing it down.

I don't want to give it away but I'd start there.
posted by fshgrl at 8:43 PM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


No idea so far, even with today's hint. I'm looking forward to the additional hints.

On the plus side, I've been learning a lot about Bhutan.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:56 PM on October 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Count me among the stumped also. I know plenty of things it is not, but not what it is.
posted by Hactar at 4:03 PM on October 18, 2016


El Salvador's also a dark blue, for sad reasons which are similar to Russia, as is Martinique, for reasons which are more benign, more reversible, and the bluest in the Caribbean because of the ease of the reversibility, I suspect.

Quite pleased that I figured it out, and I learned something about Greenland trying to work out why it's like China and India.
posted by ambrosen at 1:27 PM on October 19, 2016


Ah! Got it.

Once I got it I understood the reasons for most of the extreme countries, at either end, but didn't immediately see why Bhutan was one of the extremes. Took a bit of digging to come up with the reason for that.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:30 PM on October 19, 2016


The latest hint is interesting, I found the answer in almost the exact opposite way. I was investigating places what I theorized what the positive things associated with blue/ negative things with red might be and why some places were out of pattern. That line of inquiry led quickly to the adjacent answer. Even after I figured it out I never considered the three things mentioned.

Possibly because I was too busy running around the office gloating. One of my co-workers is still obsessively googling drug use rates hoping to find that one drug that Greenlanders hate :)
posted by fshgrl at 7:54 PM on October 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well I still haven't got it. Trying to work out how WA and NT are different from Qld is pretty damn frustrating. And South Africa is moreso than eastern Australia. It's not transient populations (Bhutan I wouldn't think qualifies), heavy machinery operators, religious observance, pot use... Gaaah!
posted by wilful at 4:23 PM on October 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ah! I think today's hint plus a NPR podcast I listened to last week gave me the clue.
posted by Karmakaze at 5:30 AM on October 21, 2016




Also Europe, especially the nations that speak Romance languages. Something along those lines, or maybe Catholicism?
posted by notyou at 7:52 AM on October 24, 2016


rot13 for (possible) spoilers:
V pnzr hc jvgu Ebznapr ynathntr fcrnxref vaqrcraqragyl bs abglbh, naq nygubhtu V unira'g sbhaq uneq qngn va n oevrs frnepu, V guvax cerggl fgebatyl gung gung'f pbeerpg. Zbfg bs rnfgrea Rhebcr vf fznyyvfu, rkprcg sbe Ebznavn. Nyfb abgr gur irel bqq qvfgevohgvba va fbhgurea Nsevpn: zbfg pbhagevrf, vapyhqvat Fbhgu Nsevpn, ner iveghnyyl abarkvfgrag, ohg Natbyn naq Zbmnzovdhr - jurer Cbeghthrfr vf gur bssvpvny ynathntr - ner uhtr. V qba'g guvax vg'f eryngrq gb Pngubyvpvfz, nf abglbh nygreangviryl cebcbfrf, nf V jbhyq rkcrpg gur Cuvyvccvarf gb or zhpu ynetre vs gung jrer gur pnfr.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:41 AM on October 24, 2016


Also Europe, especially the nations that speak Romance languages. Something along those lines, or maybe Catholicism?

Nope. The Philippines is pretty Catholic. It seems like it's gotta be something you grow in a certain climate? Heck if I know what though.

Ps it's not avocados or cows. I checked.
posted by fshgrl at 2:22 PM on October 24, 2016


DevilsAdvocate, that was my first though but Canada and Vietnam and Ireland seems off?? Having said that I find this map super hard as far as telling which country is which so I might just be reading it wrong.
posted by fshgrl at 2:46 PM on October 24, 2016


It looks like the big country apparently at the south of Africa isn't South Africa. I'm guessing Mozambique. Also, Romania's as big as Germany, and Cuba's gigantic. Intriguing. (Oh, DevilsAdvocate said all that in ROT13.)

I was thinking sugar, because the beet/cane dichotomy would explain Europe being so big and Canada not, but Australia's way too small in that case.
posted by ambrosen at 3:08 PM on October 24, 2016


And the near absence of Russia pretty much says it's nothing to do with any physical geography, and the fact that Bangladesh (and India and China) aren't there either suggests population density isn't even vaguely correlated with population density.
posted by ambrosen at 3:17 PM on October 24, 2016


Pretty sure the big countries at the south end of Africa are Angola, DR Congo and Mozambique. The three across the top are Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco I think with Mauritania being tiny then Senegal, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Benin relatively big.

??
posted by fshgrl at 3:30 PM on October 24, 2016


The UK seems far too large to fit any non-English language hypothesis, though.
posted by ambrosen at 3:56 PM on October 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


DevilsAdvocate, that was my first though but Canada and Vietnam and Ireland seems off??

No, I think they're about right, if you consider that there may be a couple of... variations... on what I proposed above. With the correct one, the US should be about six times as large as Canada (hard to eyeball that kind of thing on a cartogram, but that looks about right), and Vietnam would be pretty small. With a different variation, yes, those two would be much larger. I'm not sure what seems off about Ireland to you.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:14 PM on October 24, 2016


Also Papua New Guinea is English/ indigenous speaking offically I believe. And it's weirdly large too.
posted by fshgrl at 4:14 PM on October 24, 2016


No, I think they're about right, if you consider that there may be a couple of... variations... on what I proposed above. With the correct one, the US should be about six times as large as Canada (hard to eyeball that kind of thing on a cartogram, but that looks about right), and Vietnam would be pretty small. With a different variation, yes, those two would be much larger. I'm not sure what seems off about Ireland to you

It's roughly the same size as Puerto Rico which cant be right. I do think you are on the correct track but if you Google it there are readily available census numbers for the UK and Ireland that don't match up with just an absolute number, not even close.
posted by fshgrl at 4:22 PM on October 24, 2016


What does Mexico have a lot of, USA a moderate amount of, Canada very little of? Asia nothing of, South America lots of? Romance countries lots of, eastern Europe little or nothing of...

fshgrl, that’s Timor l'Este, not PNG. Timor l'Este is a former Portuguese colony. It was almost looking like catholicism to me too, except I cannot explain Australia, Canada, Poland, Phillipines with that.
posted by wilful at 4:53 PM on October 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ah, that makes more sense, thanks!
posted by fshgrl at 5:08 PM on October 24, 2016


Romania definitely feels like the outlier. Pretty much every other country that's even vaguely visible is either a European colonial power or a country that was colonized by one and still has reasonably strong cultural links to it.
posted by Copronymus at 11:11 PM on October 24, 2016


Romanian is a romance language though. I checked.

It all makes sense but for the UK. They say some of the countries are wrong in the description I guess.
posted by fshgrl at 11:46 PM on October 24, 2016


Could colonization or former empires be involved?
posted by Karmakaze at 5:58 AM on October 25, 2016


Today's clue strongly suggests immigration is key, particularly labor migration. Hmm.
posted by notyou at 7:15 AM on October 25, 2016


They seem to have made the mistake of not using an equal area projection, which is ridiculous if you're making a cartogram. That'd explain the UK's size compared to Cuba.
posted by ambrosen at 5:26 AM on October 27, 2016


Today's clue pretty much zeros in on Romance Languages. Immigration + language?
posted by notyou at 5:42 AM on October 27, 2016


So is that one visible Asian island Vietnam, as a former French colony?
posted by Karmakaze at 7:09 AM on October 27, 2016


Philippines, isn't it? Lots of Spanish links to the Philippines.
posted by ambrosen at 4:12 PM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Answer to map 11 is up, along with a lengthy discussion of the difficulties of actually determining the number of Romance language speakers in each country. I was surprised that the answer seems to be intended to be simply the number of Romance language speakers, rather than the number of native Romance language speakers, which is what I was attempting to obliquely refer to in my second comment on this map. After considering fshgrl's comments about the size of Canada and Vietnam, I thought native speakers might have been a better answer than just speakers — the size of Canada seemed to be about right for the ~7 million native French speakers there, but I assumed if you included all French speakers it would have been a lot larger. I was thinking that French would be widely taught as a second language in English-speaking regions of Canada, but I don't have any direct knowledge of that, so perhaps I was just way off base there? Similarly, there aren't many native French speakers in Vietnam, but I thought it might be commonly studied as a second language.

And Map 12 is up — no clue yet, but the first odd thing that strikes me about it is the countries that don't have any dots.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:16 AM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


What does Palma and Nice have lots of that Paris and Berlin have none of????

For sown reason my brains immediate answer to this map was "monkeys!". I'm going to drink more coffee and try looking at it again.
posted by fshgrl at 10:05 AM on October 31, 2016


My initial inclination was to match the dots with cities, but on closer inspection I'm not sure that's correct — many of the dots seem to line up with major cities, but not all of them do.

Consider the dots in Spain, for example: orange central dot is Madrid, southwestern blue dot is Seville, northeastern blue dot is Barcelona, and the south central blue dot is.... what, exactly? There don't appear to be any major Spanish cities there. Not to mention that green dot on Majorca — my first guess was Palma, but looking at it more closely, it seems to be centered on the northwestern shore of Majorca, while Palma is on the southern shore. But perhaps I'm reading too much into the placement of the dots? How accurate should they be considered to be?

Or the two dots in Scotland: the blue one is Edinburgh, and the green one is...? Well, there appears to be a large national park in that area (Cairngorns) but no major city?

If many, but not all, of the dots are in cities, what could that be?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:17 AM on October 31, 2016


DA, it does say that these are cities, sorry.

Monaco, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Palma all get dots. There are no dots in Germany. Something about these tiny countries is relevant. Also, I'm trying to figure out what all the tiny cities around Norway have in common with the rest. I think if I can associate Trondheim with Monaco, I might get somewhere, but I'm not sure where to start.
posted by Hactar at 2:24 PM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oops, yes, you're right. That's what I get for spending too long staring at the map and only quickly skimming the text. Now I feel like one of those teams on The Amazing Race that doesn't read their clue carefully.

That said, we're either looking at some pretty smallish cities, or else some rather... uh... casually placed dots. In addition to the one in south central Spain and the green one in Scotland, the one near the Norway-Sweden border has really been bugging me.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:41 PM on October 31, 2016


I believe I figured this out. Not monkeys, dots are cities, some of the dots seem a bit misplaced.
posted by fshgrl at 2:49 PM on October 31, 2016


The one in Sweden should be Storlien I believe.
posted by fshgrl at 2:50 PM on October 31, 2016


The two in France though I can't figure out quite yet. But If you remove those all the other countries have one big thing in common so I expect they do too.
posted by fshgrl at 3:12 PM on October 31, 2016


OMG I think I have it. Have to do a bit more research to confirm, but from the ones I've checked I'm about 95% sure I'm right.

fshgrl: assuming we're talking about the same thing, I can confirm at least the one in southwest France.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:21 PM on October 31, 2016


Ah, right, the rural Scotland one is a lot south of where I assumed it'd be, but I'd never looked it up on the map. And I didn't know that there were two dots within 20 miles of me.
posted by ambrosen at 3:39 PM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


DevilsAdvocate- is it Toulouse and Verdun?
posted by fshgrl at 8:19 PM on October 31, 2016


No, I believe they're Luzech and Sissonne.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:11 AM on November 1, 2016


Correction, Luzech and Marchais.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:16 AM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ok, with Machais I now think I have it. The city states and the scattering of dots surrounding Norway clinched it for me. Answer submitted.
posted by Hactar at 8:51 AM on November 1, 2016


OK I think I understand the basic idea, but I must be missing something because it seems like there aren't enough dots: e.g. I feel like Riofrío should be a dot, but it's not there (unless it's been lumped in with Madrid). Maybe the correct answer is a little more complicated and limited than what I have in mind at the moment.
posted by crazy with stars at 9:22 AM on November 1, 2016


I think it is to be a designated official one etc etc
posted by fshgrl at 4:19 PM on November 1, 2016


Answer is up, new one posted. This one was royal residences, now we're back in the US. (I am dead certain I have this one figured out, a knowledge of certain aspects of US history comes in very handy.)
posted by Hactar at 1:33 PM on November 7, 2016


I think this week's is pretty easy.

I'm still a little confused about last week's -- still don't understand why Riofrío didn't get a dot, since it is in fact one of "the locations of residences of Europe’s current royal families." Maybe the Spain map is just off?
posted by crazy with stars at 3:50 PM on November 7, 2016


Yep, I got the current map with just a little bit of research. In fairness, it is rated a "3" in difficulty (out of 10).

I'm still a little confused about last week's -- still don't understand why Riofrío didn't get a dot, since it is in fact one of "the locations of residences of Europe’s current royal families."

Per the answer, "We have based this map on the list of royal residences maintained by the 'Unofficial Royalty' website." For whatever reason, the palace at Riofrío is not listed there.

Amusing anecdote about my thought process for last week's map: I had actually looked up information about Storlien, as a possible location of that dot near the Norway-Sweden border, before fshgrl mentioned it. What did I learn about Storlien? Well, there's a ski resort there. Something related to ski resorts? No, I'd expect to see a lot in Switzerland and Austria if that were the case. What else? The Swedish royal family has a residence there...and upon reading that my mind immediately jumped to "palaces," which I rejected as there are palaces in Germany, there are palaces in Ireland, there are palaces in Eastern Europe.

Only after fshgrl mentioned Storlien did I go back and re-read its Wikipedia article and draw the more direct inference from its being home to a Swedish royal residence.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:02 PM on November 7, 2016


I'm a little late to this thread (just found it on the sidebar) and I don't know a great deal about the USA. However, I think I have some idea as to what this week's map represents, particularly with most of Alaska being so dark. I'll wait for a few more clues to be posted to see if I'm right.
posted by winterhill at 1:36 AM on November 8, 2016


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