Null Island Doesn't Exist, But It Sure Is Busy

Null Island is a desolate spot located at 0º longitude, 0º latitude. While an uninhabited island in the Atlantic may sound like a great spot for a vacation, there's one problem: it doesn't actually exist. Hear us out: whenever you enter a location into your computer or smartphone, a program converts that information into coordinates. If there's an error in the information you've entered—say, you said South Main Street instead of North, and there is no such place as South Main Street—the program is liable to get confused and default to "0,0," the map version of "null," or "no information." This isn't solely a product of bad typing; it can also be caused by a glitch in the program itself. But the result is the same: your driving directions, vacation photo, Facebook check-in, or even voter address is suddenly out in the middle of the ocean. This location is so popular that geographers gave it a name. "Null Island" was named partially as an inside joke, but also to help geocoding analysts flag errors when they came up. Learn more about how this error can pop up in everyday life with these videos.

Null Island: The Busiest Place That Doesn't Exist

Hear how this imaginary place shows up everywhere from photos to voter addresses.

How Does Google Maps Work?

Find out what goes into the ability to look at your neighborhood from space.

How Does GPS Work?

Discover how your phone talks to satellites.

Written by Curiosity Staff October 7, 2016

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