After evaluating the current maps, scientists at Princeton University in America are re-describing and imagining the main points needed to flatten the globe
Mapmakers have struggled for centuries how to map our sphere onto a flat sheet of 2D paper. However, scientists at Princeton University in the United States have re-described and imagined the key points needed to flatten the map of the globe, enabling them to create one of the most accurate maps of the globe ever.
These efforts began when David Goldberg of Drexel University and Richard Gott of Princeton University in 2007 devised a system for evaluating current maps in their paper published in The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization).
In this study, scientists identified 6 types of distortions that are found in flat maps, such as spatial division, distances, alignment of directions, bends (bends), torsions (or skew and tilt), and contraction of borders (gaps of cohesion). With this evaluation, the globe gets a score of zero, while the various maps are evaluated based on those distortions. The near zero score for the resident maps, the better.
According to the press release published by Princeton University commenting on the new map, Gott says, “There is no perfect map to visualize everything. A good map is one thing, it may be bad in other things.”
Various maps and several distortions
There are many maps that were made in the past and are still used in navigation and others. The mapping method is known as “map projection”, due to its dependence on the projection of features and details of the globe on various forms, including cylindrical, sinusoidal or other forms.
There are approximately 200 map projection methods, and one of the most prominent is the Mercator projection.
“Mercator projection” depends on surrounding the globe with a cylinder in contact with it at the equator (the middle of the globe), and then projecting the points and details of the ball onto that cylinder that opens and flattens later, to form a two-dimensional map that is still used in school books and Google Maps (Google).
This method is ideal for depicting spatial features, but the surface areas are more distorted the closer they are to the poles.
By measuring the extent of distortion on known maps, the “Triple Winkle Projection” achieved a distortion score of 4.563; This makes it the best known flat map. However, the “Winkel tripel projection” suffers from the problem of “border erosion” that bisects the Pacific and creates an illusory distance that does not exist between Asia and Hawaii.
A new approach
In the study, the preliminary version of which was posted on the arXiv website and not yet judged by peers, Gott presented a new approach to overcome the aforementioned distortions. And he relied on his map on a method he called “the multi-faceted envelope”, which consists of regular shapes glued behind each other.
This resulted in a new round, two-sided map in the shape of a phonograph. In this simple way, Gott was able to overcome the limitations imposed by the two-dimensional maps, and was able to maintain a suitable shape for them that would be easy to preserve and manufacture.
According to Goet, it is possible to “view the northern hemisphere on one side and the southern hemisphere on the other, or the eastern and western hemisphere can be viewed in the same way on both sides, which will allow the equator to pass at the edge.”
“This map does not suffer from the problem of ‘diminishing boundaries.’ It is also possible to measure distances from one side to the other using a tape measure that extends from one side of the disk to the other.”
Nor did this map suffer from the deformation of “cohesion gaps,” as there is “continuity across the equator on both sides, and Africa and South America are wound up at the edge of the disk in a continuous manner,” says Gott.
In addition, the map overcomes the problem of “distances” between two points. On maps that measured the amount of distortion in 2007, it recorded far less error in distances than its predecessors.
Finally, the new map makes it easy to print its front and back sides onto a single magazine page, or a piece of cardboard or plastic, and then cut and fold it. It is also easy to store in a textbook or small box.