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Dec 09, 2013 04:29 PM EST

'Lord Of The Rings' Landscapes Analyzed And Compared To Real Places In British Study

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"The Lord of the Rings" is the second best selling book of all time (approximately 150 million sold) and three of its movies are considered to be among the top twenty films of all time by IMDB.

All of that means its fictional environment has earned the right to be the subject of legitimate (and fun!) scientific research.

Scientists at Britain's Bristol University compared the climates of famous "Lord of the Rings" sites such as Mordor and The Shire to regions of the world, the San Jose Mercury News reported. They also generated computer simulations of various middle earth landscapes based on information given in the book (notorious for their vast amount of details not always directly related to the plot).

For example, Los Angeles, western Texas, and Alice Springs in Australia have climates closest to Mordor, the site of Sauron's fortress.

As a whole, however, "the climate of Middle Earth has a similar distribution to that of Western Europe and North Africa," according to the researchers, one of whom identified himself as Radagast the Brown after the wizard who lives among J.R.R. Tokien's fictional nature.

The above finding isn't too surprising, given that Tolkein was from England. His landscapes either resembled the places he knew best or the place he likely found most exotic (Africa). The Shire, home to hobbits Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, could have easily stood for Lincolnshire or Liecestershire, as researchers found environmental similarities between all three, according to the press release.

Really, the study was an exercise in how climate models work and a way to solidify their validacy, according to the release.

"This work is a bit of fun, but it does have a serious side," said Dr. Dan Lunst, one of the study's authors. "A core part of our work here in Bristol involves using state-of-the-art climate models to simulate and understand the past climate of our Earth. By comparing our results to evidence of past climate change, for example from tree rings, ice cores, and ancient fossils of plants and animals, we can validate the climate models, and gain confidence in the accuracy of their predictions of future climate."

Perfect timing for the study's release: "The Hobbit" comes out this Friday.

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