MAY 20, 2018 5:16 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 31, 2020
Plants & Animals
This Fungus Spreads by Manipulating Male Cicadas into Mimicking Females
JUL 31, 2020
This Fungus Spreads by Manipulating Male Cicadas into Mimicking Females
Researchers from West Virginia University (WVU) recently discovered how a parasitic fungus uses male cicadas to spread i ...
AUG 24, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Asteroid May Collide With Earth in November
AUG 24, 2020
Asteroid May Collide With Earth in November
NASA has said that an asteroid known as 2018VP1 is heading towards Earth, and may potentially collide with our planet on ...
SEP 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Atmosphere Causes Moon to Rust
SEP 07, 2020
Earth's Atmosphere Causes Moon to Rust
Researchers from the University of Hawaii have noticed that the Moon is turning slightly red or 'rusty'- and tha ...
OCT 07, 2020
Plants & Animals
Tasmanian Devils Return to Mainland Australia
OCT 07, 2020
Tasmanian Devils Return to Mainland Australia
For the first time in about 3,000 years, Tasmanian devils have returned to mainland Australia. According to a report fro ...
OCT 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Water Found on Moon Enough to Sustain a Lunar Base
OCT 29, 2020
Water Found on Moon Enough to Sustain a Lunar Base
For the first time, scientists have found water on the moon's sunlit surface. Coupled with other evidence of water i ...
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
Scientists have identified a burst of cosmic radio waves- intense flashes of radio emission that last just a few millise ...
Loading Comments...