This New Map Crushes the One We've Relied On Since 1569

Most proportional map ever?
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2016 2:32 PM CDT
This New Map Crushes the One We've Relied On Since 1569
The AuthaGraphic world map may be the most proportionally accurate ever.   (Keio University Graduate School of Media and Governance Narukawa Laboratory)

(Newser) – Portraying all the contents of a spherical Earth on a flat, two-dimensional piece of paper is notoriously difficult, which is why we've relied on, for more than four centuries, a map that inaccurately shows Greenland, Alaska, and Antarctica as imposingly huge. But now a new map by Japanese artist and architect Hajime Narukawa is so proportionally accurate that it may simply have no match, reports Gizmodo. You can print the AuthaGraph World Map and fold it up into a globe—taking it from 2D to 3D—and still maintain proper land and water proportions, a feat so impressive that it has just won the esteemed Japanese Good Design Award. (If you think it sounds easy, try folding the Mercator projection, created in 1569, into a globe and see what you get.)

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So how did Narukawa do it? The key, as Popular Mechanics explains, was to divvy up the planet "into 96 equal regions and then [transfer] the dimensions from a sphere to a tetrahedron" (four equilateral triangles laid into the shape of one larger one) and then transfer them again to a rectangular map. The map's accuracy could improve further if the number of subdivisions increases, the Good Design Award description notes, but as it currently stands the map "faithfully represents all oceans, continents including the neglected Antarctica." It won't necessarily sound the death knell for the Mercator projection, though; Popular Mechanics points out it "doesn't align according to the cardinal directions." It's on sale in poster and globe form through its own AuthaGraph site. (The view of planet Earth from space is a particularly cloudy one.)

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