Around the World in 80 Seconds
It took Phileas Fogg 80 days to travel around the world in Jules Verne’s novel — we can do it in 80 seconds with a few clicks to video cameras on the Internet. We won't feel the mist of the sea or savor the aromas of exotic places, but we can see and learn a lot about our globe. The World Views page of our web site has links to cameras on seven continents and the International Space Station.
Like Fogg we can start in London with a camera showing the Tower Bridge. The bridge’s web site even tells us when the bridge is scheduled to be opened.
We can also explore the diversity of cultures, climate and architecture. Some cameras include audio, so if you happen to visit the Temple of Hercules in Jordan, or the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul at the right time you can hear the muezzin call the Islamic faithful to prayer.
We learned about the midnight sun in school, but It’s hard to appreciate until you see it. The internet makes that easy — just visit the picturesque town of Balestrand at the junction of two fjords in Norway. The clock shows 10 p.m., but the sun is still shining (picture below is not night).
And it is summer here, but winter in the Southern hemisphere. That is why it is dark at 6:00 p.m. when you visit the cameras in São Paulo and Rio, where the Sun sets today (July 30) at 5:30 local time.
In the novel, Fogg’s wager was that he would return to the Reform Club by noon on Sat., Dec. 21. Finishing his journey he arrived home thinking he had lost. Only the next morning did he learn that because he had traveled eastward and crossed what today we call the International Date line he actually had arrived on Friday London time. He then raced to the Club to win the bet.
Today we can click to Tokyo or Sydney and see that it is late night there when it is noon in Boston. And if you check the clock, you will see that it is already tomorrow.
- Illustration by Léon Benett from the original French edition. Posted by John Walker at Fourmilab.
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