A team of scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia has made the startling discovery that almost all of the world’s maps have been read upside-down for centuries, prompting inquiries into how such a mistake could have been allowed to become so widespread. Dr Jeremy Marks, head of the University’s School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, recalls the moment that his team made the discovery: “When we realised that the world has actually been looking at the world the wrong way up for all these years, I had to sit down and pour myself a Fosters. This has been going on for centuries”. The team has urged people across the world to turn their atlases upside-down with the South Pole at the top of the map in order to correct the error.
The accidental inversion has now been blamed for historical mishaps including Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland (who later corrected their error by invading France the following year) and Columbus’ discovery of the ‘West Indies’, among others. The blunder is also responsible for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, originally intended for North Korea, which explains the absence of any weapons of mass destruction. A spokesman for the Bush administration stated that: “Having turned the Pentagon’s maps upside down, it’s now obvious that we should have sent our troops 7,000 miles to the right, instead of sending them 7,000 miles to the left”. Barack Obama yesterday issued a personal apology to the government of the late Saddam Hussein, but called it ‘an easy mistake to make’. Australia’s popular nickname of ‘down under’ is now a source of embarrassment to the country, with groups pressing the Australian government to officially change the misnomer to ‘up over’. Owners of globes worldwide are said to be disappointed that they are unable to correct the error without the globes falling over.