MAY 20, 2018 05:16 PM PDT

A mapmaker's dilemma


Try cutting open a world map beach ball and you will see the dilemma that all mapmakers face: the surface of a sphere cannot be represented as a plane without some form of distortion. Mathematicians use algorithms to translate the globe's surface into a flat plan via a process of cylindrical projection - but there are many ways that those projections can end up looking. Let's explore some of the types of maps we have.

Have you ever heard of the Mercator map? Even if you haven't, you've undoubtedly seen it, as it's the one that Google Maps features. The Mercator map is good for a number of reasons, the main one being that the countries retain their actual shape. But here's the catch: their sizes are totally distorted. That's why Greenland looks like it's the same size as Africa, when in fact it's 14 times smaller! Meanwhile, the Gall-Peters map focuses on representing the correct size projections of countries, but in this projection, the countries don't retain their shapes. Clearly, neither the Mercator nor the Galls-Peter is the best answer. So which map do most modern cartographers rely on? Watch the video to find out!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 09, 2018
Videos
JUL 09, 2018
How Spiders Use Electricity To Fly
Spider rains, or ballooning spiders, are a natural phenomenon believed by scientists to be caused by the silken threads of these unique insects that genera...
JUL 23, 2018
Videos
JUL 23, 2018
Is your commute harming your health?
How far do you commute every day? According to US Census data, the average daily commute......
JUL 23, 2018
Videos
JUL 23, 2018
Rare Diseases That Changed Medicine
In the US, a disease is considered rare when it affects fewer than 200,000 people in the whole country. But, in Europe, a disease is considered rare when i...
JUL 23, 2018
Videos
JUL 23, 2018
Can Dark-Colored Eyes See Better?
  Other than health risks associated with certain eye colors, can some colors see better than others? For example, can brown eyes see better than ligh...
JUL 31, 2018
Videos
JUL 31, 2018
Tired of Coffee? Try These Ideas for a Boost of Energy
A good strong cup of coffee first thing in the morning, at lunch, on a break or just about anytime can be a real boost. Not everyone likes coffee though, a...
AUG 18, 2018
Videos
AUG 18, 2018
Zombie Gene Protects Elephants From Cancer
Over an organism’s life, cells keep on dividing and with each division the risk of acquiring a mutation that may lead to cancer increases. Therefore,...
Loading Comments...