Dear elven folk [I am unsure of the appropriate PC phrase - Dear elf/elfen, Dear elf/elfina, ... - I hope I have not offended]
I was extremely interested in the question that, the very lovely, Mr Fry posed at the end of episode 11 in series "E" - "Endings". Namely, "How many poles are there at the ends of the earth?"
I could not wait the research this topic....
An elf replies...
One of the great joys of working on QI, is receiving e-mails from people with the same inquisitive nature as ourselves. One such came from Julian Griffin in response to our question: "How many North Poles does the earth have?"
Our answer was that we have four: Geographic - where the Earth's axis of rotation meets the surface; also known as 'True North'. Geomagnetic - point where the Earth's magnetic dipole meets the surface. Magnetic - where geomagnetic field lines point vertically into the ground. And the 'Northern Pole of Inaccessibility,' the farthest point from any coastline. All told, we came up with 12 poles that exist somewhere on the Earth's surface.
However Julian took it upon himself to search for further poles. On top of our two geographic poles, two magnetic poles, two geo-magnetic poles, two poles of inaccessibility, two celestial poles and a Ceremonial South Pole, he found two cartographical poles and four, not two, poles of inaccessibility: Northern, Southern, Oceanic and Continental.
He came up with the upper limit of 15 - can you do better? We'd love to hear from you if you can: there's nothing better than hearing from those who will go to the ends of the earth to prove us wrong.