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Giant Globe Proves It’s a Big World

August 30, 1998

YARMOUTH, Maine (AP) _ This is not the ordinary globe kids spin round and round in elementary school classrooms.

In fact, it wouldn’t even fit in a classroom.

This globe is 42 feet in diameter, consisting of a surface of 792 pieces, some as large as 4 feet by 3 feet, that are attached to a frame of 6,120 pieces of tubular aircraft aluminum. It weighs 5,600 pounds.

DeLorme mapping company says the globe that dominates the lobby at its headquarters is the biggest in the world.

``It’s fun to look at those little globes. But you look at this one and say, `Wow!‴ said Jeff Clark, a map technician responsible for each of the plastic panels that cover the DeLorme creation.

Dubbed ``Eartha,″ the globe was the brainchild of David DeLorme, founder of the map and software company. And it’s meant to showcase the technology that goes into maps and mapping software.

All 200 workers were involved in Eartha’s creation, from months of work establishing a computer database for the project, to the task of printing and laminating the surface on plastic panels, to the tedious job of snapping the pieces into place like a jigsaw puzzle.

``No one’s ever really built a globe this big before, so we sort of wrote the book as we went along,″ Clark said.

A physics professor from Bowdoin College helped workers figure out how much weight the structure could support. A West Bath company was enlisted to help build the aluminum frame and support arm.

The computer database used to bring Eartha’s surface alive with colorful detail showing topography, vegetation and ocean depth took more than a year to create. Sometimes, computers ran 24 hours a day.

DeLorme said there were no price limitations on the globe, and he doesn’t care to know how much it cost to make it.

``I don’t know and I don’t want to know,″ DeLorme said. Had he known how much the globe would cost, DeLorme said, he probably never would have undertaken the task of building it.

While DeLorme bills Eartha as the largest globe, it has yet to earn that distinction from the Guinness Book of World Records.

The current record is held by Orfeo Bartolucci’s ``Globe of Peace,″ a revolving sphere in Italy that is 33 feet in diameter, said Vanessa Law, a spokeswoman for Guinness Publishing in London.

DeLorme is working with Guinness officials and plans to submit paperwork before the May deadline for the next book published in the year 2000, said Mary Jo Whitworth, a company spokeswoman.

One option is to establish two categories, with the largest globe going to DeLorme and the heaviest globe going to Globe of Peace, which weighs in at a whopping 30 tons, Whitworth said.

No decision has been made, and Guinness will review DeLorme’s paperwork when it is submitted, Law said.

As for DeLorme’s globe, it’s hard to miss. It is plainly visible inside the company’s three-story glass atrium from Interstate 95, where commuters sometimes crane their necks to see it.

Eartha is one one-millionth the size of the real thing, which works out to one Eartha inch equaling nearly 16 Earth miles.

Eartha tilts at 23.5 degrees just as the Earth does. And it revolves on a specially designed cantilever arm and rotates on an axis, with one combined revolution and rotation each minute at maximum speed.

The globe was completed July 23 when David DeLorme put the last piece into place with help from Gov. Angus King. Hundreds of workers and guests cheered the milestone.

Recognizing the significance of the event, DeLorme employees dressed up for the occasion instead of wearing the T-shirts, flip-flops and shorts that are acceptable attire on most days.

Even DeLorme wore a coat and tie.

``I heard someone say they didn’t recognize half the people here because they were dressed up,″ he quipped.

But he was serious about his creation.

DeLorme said it is a symbol of how far the company has come since he started making maps at his kitchen table, and a symbol for the new millennium as the world continues to get smaller.

DeLorme plans to release several Eartha-related products, including a paper atlas, and a CD-ROM of the world featuring a three-dimensional view of the Earth.

Most of all, DeLorme hopes Eartha will be an inspiration _ as it was for a 3-year-old who visited recently with her parents.

``She took five steps, and with a fresh insight only a child of that age can have, she spread out her arms wide and let out a scream of joy that resounded throughout this place,″ he said.

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