How grand is the Grand Canyon, anyway? Data visualization geek John Nelson got the idea to turn the canyon into something more familiar to us: mountains. That meant inverting a topographical map.
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Some of my earliest memories of the place had to do with the trippy feeling of my eyes and mind trying to make sense of the scale. I had seen many mountain ranges and vistas, including some on the way, but the vast negative space played havoc with my perception of magnitude. I’ve felt it a few times since, but never like that first Grand Canyon overlook.
I wondered, then, if flipping the Grand Canyon into a Grand Mountain might in some way help me make sense of its scale. I’m much more accustomed to seeing the mass of something rather than the massive void of something. So, here’s what that looks like.
While it’s true we are more used to seeing mountains, this Grand Mountain is smaller than the Rockies, and oddly-shaped. Mountains generally form a line where they were pushed up by collisions of the earth’s crust. This one has branches, so it has a huge mass in a relatively cramped space. See the Grand Canyon inverted from several angles, and find out how Nelson made it, at Adventures in Mapping. -via Kottke