The most realistic world map looks like a vinyl

The Mercator map, which has proudly sat in classrooms for years, is far removed from reality. It is made up of important errors at the pole levels, which Professors Gott and Goldberg intend to rectify with this planisphere of a new kind.

Credit: Princeton University

For centuries, cartographers have torn their hair out to accurately represent our planet in its roundness. If the globe is the way to represent it as faithfully as possible today, scientists at Princeton had another idea. It’s no secret, but the planispheres, a plane projection of the two hemispheres of the terrestrial globe, are a distorted representation of reality, especially at the level of the poles. To remedy this problem, Professor J. Richard Gott and his team have developed a new flat map which is intended to be more realistic. Like a vinyl record, this flat card has two sides that each represent one of the two hemispheres. “This double-sided card has smaller distance errors than any one-sided flat card. ”

A Two-sided Earth map from Remember to Switch to PU on Vimeo.

Less than 22.2% discarded from reality

In 2007, Professors Goldberg and Goot invented a score to score existing maps on six types of distortions that flat representations can introduce: areas, local shapes, distances, bending, asymmetry, and boundary cuts ( continuity gap). The lower the score, the more representative the card. For example, a globe obtains: 0.0. Using their metrics, the best flat projection is the Winkel Tripel, with a score of 4.563. But this still poses some problems, in particular by creating the illusion of a great distance between Asia and Hawaii. Princeton cartographers say their new map is no more than 22.2% off the mark. Professor Gott concedes “You can’t make everything perfect. A good map in one area may not be as good at illustrating something else ”.


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