Cool Video: How Maps Distort--Shapes and Size Do Matter

This Cool Video is a clip from my webmasters favorite television series, West Wing.  It is almost a 4 minute long pitch from a group of cartographers who want to legislate the use of the Peters Projection map of the world rather than the more common Mercator Projection.  Representing a 3-dimensional object on a two-dimension plan is more complicated that it might seem to the casual observer.  

Here is a Peters Projection map of the world that was posted on Whydontyoutryoutthis.com. 

Amazingly, this rendition of the world, which is an accurate map of area, was first presented by Dr. Arno Peters in Germany in 1974. It was not available in English for almost another decade.  

The Mercator Projection dates back to the mid-16th century (1569) and is the one we are most familiar with.   While it is particularly useful for navigation for European sailors, it distorts the size and shape of  nations and continents.    

As the West Wing video clip explains, the Mercator Projection makes Western Europe appear larger than South America and Greenland appear as large as Africa.   Neither is even close to being true.  

The map here of Africa that was originally appear to have been posted on Marilink.net by Kai Krause.   It creatively shows how much larger Africa is that is appreciated.  Rather than being roughly the same size as Greenland as the Mercator Projection suggests, the Peters Projection shows it to be 14x bigger.  It is truly breathtaking.  

It reminds me of Mark Twain's quip that "what gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, but what we know for sure that just ain't so."
Cool Video: How Maps Distort--Shapes and Size Do Matter Cool Video:  How Maps Distort--Shapes and Size Do Matter Reviewed by Marc Chandler on March 16, 2014 Rating: 5
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