Maps have been around for centuries. The first maps date as far back as 25,000 B.C. when landscapes and routes were just painting and carvings on cave walls. Nowadays, maps can be found in almost every classroom as flat representations of our round planet, but they are actually completely inaccurate.
Johnny Harris over at Vox decided to open up a plastic globe in order to see just how you take something spherical and make it flat.
As you can see in the video, Harris had some trouble taking the globe and making a flat map out of it, which is a problem many cartographers have dealt with for centuries. It’s actually mathematically impossible to take the surface of a sphere and turn it into a plane without creating some type of deformity. (You can get all mathy here.)
The solution to the problem? Just create a library of different maps that distort certain attributes of the globe while maintaining others. That’s exactly what mathematicians and cartographers have been doing all these years.
If you look at the Mercator projection, you can see that this version retains the shape of the countries, but it misrepresents the size.
The Gall-Peters projection is a more accurate representation of land area: it distorts the shape while preserving the area.
As you can see, there’s no such thing as a “right” map projection since each version has its compromises and were created for specific functions. If you’re interested in checking out different versions, go here.
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