Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Welcome to "The World in the Box"

E Komo Mai!

Welcome to "The World in the Box", a blog written and maintained by teaching faculty from several campuses in the University of Hawai'i system.  You may have been directed to this blog as part of an assignment; if so we hope you find the information here useful.  If you've randomly ended up here as the result of a google search, welcome to you as well, and we hope you will enjoy the content of our blog.  We welcome questions and comments, but please remember to remain respectful of others.  Our goal with this blog is to create a space where we can interact with students and others interested in the geography of Hawai'i in an informal way; we hope this blog will not only enable us to discuss and elaborate on material from the courses we teach but also serve as a forum to talk about other aspects of Hawai'i.

This brings us to the title of the blog.  You may be wondering what "the world inside the box" means.  It's really quite simple.  We frequently see maps of the United States, and Hawai'i is generally shown in a little box tucked away into a corner of the map.  This gives the sense of remoteness and isolation.  But for us as geographers Hawai'i is a fascinating place, full of diversity and wonder.  From the geographer's perspective, few places on Earth provide the same opportunity to learn so much, from physical geography topics like climate and volcanology to biogeography and human geography topics like the culture and history of the Hawaiian people.

For example, did you know that Hawai'i has some of the steepest gradients in all of the world?  This means that you can walk from an alpine shrub ecosystem, through tropical rainforest, and end up in a desert over the space of just a few kilometers!  Did you know that Hawai'i is home to a carnivorous caterpillar that ambushes flies?  Or that our islands have more species of flightless flies than any other place on the planet?  While flies aren't the most glamorous of species, the tremendous diversity of species indicates just how special these islands are.  You no doubt are aware that these islands are volcanic in origin, and we can see island-forming processes in action on the Big Island.  People come from all over the world to study about volcanoes in Hawaii, and the Hawaiian names for the two basic types of lava, a'a and pahoehoe are used by geographers and volcanologists all over the world.  Hawai'i is also home to native people with a fascinating history and culture, and the Old Hawaiians were excellent geographers.  

We will be discussing all these subjects and more with this blog.  So again we welcome you to "The World in the Box".  We hope this blog will help you to appreciate the incredible beauty and wonder of these islands.  We also hope it will help you to understand concepts from your classes.

A Hui Hou!

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