xkcd finds East and West confusing – what about North and South?

Stealing from XKCD again:


I have a similar problem with North and South.  On the globe, there’s a clearly marked “North Pole” and a clearly marked “South Pole.”


Magnets also have North and South poles.  These are typically labeled N and S respectively.  Fine.

But if you consider the Earth as a large magnet (which it is), then you have to stick the N where the penguins live (Antarctica-ish) and the S where the polar bears live (Canada-ish…)


That bugs me.

Comments (1)

  1. Phylyp says:

    My 2 cents:

    I believe it’s a question of the definition and assumption differing: magnetic north is not the earth equivalent of a magnet’s N (assumption), but the end that attracts a magnet’s N (definition).

    In order words, "magnetic north" is a contraction of "magnetic pole-that-attracts-a-magnet’s north".