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Major geographical error on common gag in many cartoons

May 1, 2012

I have NEVER seen it pointed out anywhere. I one day realized it myself several years ago!

In cartoon logic, we commonly see that if you dig strait down (presumably from the USA), and go through the center of the earth, you come out in China. This goes all the way back to the golden age of theatrical cartoons.
Of course, it is recognized, if you go down from the Western hemisphere, you’ll come out in the Eastern hemisphere. What’s forgotten is the north-south direction! USA and China are both on the northern hemisphere! If the west becomes east, how do they figure the opposite of the north remains in the north? If the earth was a cylinder, that would hold true. But since the earth is close to a sphere, the diametric opposite of the north will be in the southern hemisphere. (Unless you travel at a northerly angle [in which case you would miss the center]. Yet one Roadrunner cartoon employing this gag clearly showed the coyote falling through the molten core at the very center of the earth!)

So if you go straight down through the center of the earth from the USA, you would come up in the Indian Ocean to the west of Australia. Of course, that wouldn’t work in the gags, because then the person falling through would come out under water, or water would spring out of the hole dug on this side. The diametric opposite from China would be in southern South America or nearby waters.

Edit: here illustrated on a transparent globe:

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