2016.03.25 Something Slightly Off

According to an old joke the biggest country in Europe is Switzerland; you just have to iron it out.

It came to my mind as I looked at a world map much similar to the one illustrating this post.

The ideal depiction of our blue planet is a globe. But when we move this 3-dimentional object over in 2D, something has to give.

Normally, this "something" is size accuracy: In the standard Mercato projection Greenland is about the size of Australia when in reality Australia covers 3 times the area of Greenland (I can't say if ironing them out would change that.)

I had a real laugh when I got an electronic birthday card and in the picture a 2D Mercato map was projected back on to a globe. Never has Greenland been bigger.

As you can see, Australia is much bigger than Greenland in the Gall-Peters projection, the method used in the illustration.

The difference is that what Greenland is gaining in girth by being stretched out over 2 dimensions, it loses in hight - the latitudes have been compressed towards the poles and stretched around the Equator.

Supposedly, the result is that now the countries compare better size-wise - even if none of them are accurate if you want to know what they look like.

In that it reminds me very much of how to use culture models. You don't use a globe or a world map for navigation but small charts for the waters or local maps of the land you travel. Likewise, global culture models tell you something about how countries norms and values are relatively to one another - but for specific "navigation" you need to look at local customs.

I can't say that I like the Gall-Peters map better but it seems a very astute illustration for what traveling the world feels like: You can recognize the general picture - but something is slightly off.