No Mercator projection

2007-03-06

in Bombs and rockets, Politics, Security, The environment, Travel

Grabbed from Metafilter, this page of maps distorted to show relative rates of things like military spending is quite interesting. Unsurprisingly, the map of war and death is especially grotesque.

Some higher resolution versions are over at Worldmapper: by total population, landmine casualties, and wealth (per capita).

Looking at these, one is immediately struck by how heterogeneous the world is. Of course, we all knew that before, but seeing the information in a new way can change one’s perception of it quite a bit. While there is the danger of such data being misleading, I would say it counters the greater danger of extrapolating from personal experience. Aggregated statistics, while not perfect, are a lot better than on-the-fly human intuitions, when it comes to assessing massive problems quite beyond the scope of anyone’s personal experience.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan March 6, 2007 at 1:25 pm

Forest growth and forest loss make for an interesting contrast.

Milan March 6, 2007 at 1:32 pm
Antonia March 6, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Military Spending and War and Death maps sharing the screen make an interesting juxtaposition.

Anomymous March 6, 2007 at 5:22 pm

It is awfully dodgy how the Daily Mail just grabbed those images from Worldmapper, reduced the quality, and published them without attribution.

Anon @ Wadh March 6, 2007 at 5:41 pm

Are those Columbia and Sri Lanka that appear enormous on the land mine graph?

R.K. March 6, 2007 at 2:01 pm

Some of that is really depressing. Choosing blazing red colours for Sub-Saharan African states makes it worse.

Milan December 13, 2007 at 1:05 am
Milan February 28, 2008 at 11:07 am
. October 29, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Dymaxion map
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Dymaxion map or Fuller map is a projection of a World map onto the surface of a polyhedron, which can then be unfolded to a net in many different ways and flattened to form a two-dimensional map which retains most of the relative proportional integrity of the globe map.

It was created by Buckminster Fuller, and patented by him during 1946, the patent application showing a projection onto a cuboctahedron. The 1954 version published by Fuller with the title The AirOcean World Map used a slightly modified but mostly regular icosahedron as the base for the projection, and this is the version most commonly referred to today. The name Dymaxion was applied by Fuller to several of his inventions.

. January 12, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Looking at a map, one can easily be lulled into thinking that the continents are generally in the right spot.

If you’re in front of a globe, you’d be right, but rendering flat maps always introduces some form of topological distortion – try flattening an orange peel to model the essence of the problem. Common solutions include the aesthetically-pleasing Mercator projection, which alters the relative proportions of continents, and the whacked-out Peters projection, which preserves size at the expense of considerable continental warping.

Since each has its drawbacks, this is an area still ripe for new ideas. Computer scientist Jack van Wijk has brought a software engineer’s mindset to bear on the problem and devised an ingenious new method for laying out the globe that directs the “cuts” necessary to flatten a sphere, resulting in some entirely new renderings of our planet. His “myriahedral” algorithm divides the surface into thousands of polygons (hence the name, a contraction of myriad and polyhedrons), the edges of which can be assigned importance to guide the placement of the virtual cuts and folds.

. March 29, 2010 at 4:55 pm

“For example, when I was little, my dad used to enjoy quizzing me about geography. Which is farther north, he’d ask, Rome or New York City? Most people would guess New York, but surprisingly they’re at almost the same latitude, with Rome being just a bit farther north. On the usual map of the world (the misleading Mercator projection, where Greenland appears gigantic) it looks like you could go straight from New York to Rome by heading due east.

Yet airline pilots never take that route. They always fly northeast out of New York, hugging the coast of Canada. I used to think they were staying close to land for safety’s sake, but that’s not the reason. It’s simply the most direct route, if you take the earth’s curvature into account. The shortest path from New York to Rome goes past Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, then heads out over the Atlantic, and finally veers south of Ireland and across France for arrival in sunny Italy.

This kind of path on the globe is called an arc of a “great circle.” Like straight lines in ordinary space, great circles on a sphere contain the shortest paths between any two points. They’re called “great” because they’re the largest circles you can have on a sphere. Conspicuous examples include the equator and the longitudinal circles that pass through the north and south poles.

Another property that lines and great circles share is that they’re the straightest paths. That might sound strange — all paths on a globe are curved, so what do we mean by “straightest”? Well, some paths are more curved than others. The great circles don’t do any additional curving, above and beyond what they’re forced to do by following the surface of the sphere.”

. November 14, 2011 at 7:03 pm
. September 29, 2015 at 8:49 pm

The Mercator Puzzle reminds you how deceptive maps can be

The Earth is round, and maps are flat. While we have may mapped nearly every inch of our world, figuring out how to translate that information from three dimensions to two remains a problem.

Most maps use the Mercator projection, which distorts the size of countries closer to the poles. An online puzzle reveals just how deceptive—or at least confusing—these maps can be about the actual size of different countries on Earth, by asking you to match the outlines of 15 landmasses to the appropriate country. The trick is that as you move these outlines north and south, they grow dramatically larger and smaller.

The Mercator Puzzle is free to play in browsers.

. April 24, 2017 at 8:03 pm

Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere, causing it to warm up. The greenhouse gases shown here are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. These gases account for 98% of the greenhouse effect. Other greenhouse gases, not shown here, are various fluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride.

The territories that emit the most greenhouse gases are the United States, China, the Russian Federation and Japan. However, the most emissions per person are in Qatar: equivalent to 86 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Qatar has significant oil and gas reserves, and in 2002 was populated by 600,000 people.

Nuclear Waste

Around 8910 tonnes of heavy metal nuclear waste are generated each year. This waste mainly comes from nuclear power stations. Three territories produce over 1000 tonnes a year: the United States, Canada and France. Canada also produces the most waste per person living there, although Sweden is not far behind.

Some islands in the Southern hemisphere with notable areas are: New Caledonia, the Falkland Islands / Islas Malvinas, South Georgia, and Reunion. On these maps they are assigned to France and the United Kingdom, and resized according to their combined data. Little or no nuclear waste is from these islands.

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