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The Economist

The Economist
LAST month Kai Krause, a computer-graphics guru, caused a stir with a map entitled "The True Size of Africa", which showed the outlines of other countries crammed into the outline of the African continent. His aim was to make "a small contribution in the fight against rampant Immappancy"—in particular, the fact that most people do not realise how much the ubiquitous Mercator projection distorts the relative sizes of countries. A sphere cannot be represented on a flat plane without distortion, which means all map projections distort in one way or another. Some projections show areas accurately but distort distances or scales, for example; others preserve the shapes of countries but misrepresent their areas. You can read all the gory details on Wikipedia. Gerardus Mercator's projection, published in 1569, was immediately useful because it depicts a line of constant bearing as a straight line, which is handy for marine navigation.

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Map Projections & What They Say About You Comic by Randall Munroe at XKCD Most people go through life perfectly happy in the knowledge that the real earth looks like it does on a standard Mercator projection map. Cartographers, map nerds and those that have seen this scene from the West Wing know that this is not really the case. Wikipedia sums up why map projections are necessary in the first place: Choosing the best way to indicate map scale By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead In a previous blog entry, I asked, “Do all maps need a scale bar and north arrow?” I answered, “No” and talked a little about direction indicators like north arrows, but I didn’t really go into any detail about scale bars.

Ancient dogs in the Americas yields insights into human, dog migration A new study suggests that dogs may have first successfully migrated to the Americas only about 10,000 years ago, thousands of years after the first human migrants crossed a land bridge from Siberia to North America. The study looked at the genetic characteristics of 84 individual dogs from more than a dozen sites in North and South America, and is the largest analysis so far of ancient dogs in the Americas. The findings appear in the Journal of Human Evolution.

The story of the 2014 World Cup, in 15 maps Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger, left, and Lukas Podolski celebrate with the trophy after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) And there you have it. On Sunday, Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in extra time to win its fourth World Cup and its first since 1990. The month-long tournament in Brazil brimmed with storylines and all sorts of excitement. Here's WorldViews retelling of the event through maps.

The 500 Year Old Map that Shatters the Official History of the Human Race Buck Rogers | If conventional wisdom on the history of the human race is correct, then human civilization is not old enough, nor was it advanced enough, to account for many of the mysterious monolithic and archeological sites around the world. Places like Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, the Bosnian Pyramids, and Adam’s Calendar in South Africa, beg the same question: if human civilization is supposedly not old enough to have created all of these sites, then who, or what, had the capacity to create so many elaborate structures around the globe? It is clear that our understanding of our own history is incomplete, and there is plenty of credible evidence pointing to the existence of intelligent and civilized cultures on Earth long before the first human cultures emerged from the Middle East around 4000BC.

Mysterious pre-Columbian spheres on show in Costa Rican capital The mysterious pre-Columbian spheres and other objects from an area in southern Costa Rica declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO can now be seen at in an exhibition in San Jose. The National Museum of Costa Rica opened a show this week entitled "Diquis: World Heritage Site," which presents stone spheres and other objects from four pre-Columbian indigenous settlements near the town of Osa in the southern province of Puntarenas. "This exhibition helps us understand their cultural development. It's important to realize there were societies with a very complex organization at the political, cultural and religious levels," the museum curator, Adrian Badilla, told Efe. The show includes 67 pre-Columbian objects in stone, ceramic, gold, bone and shell that reveal the creativity and craftsmanship of inhabitants of the Diquis Delta.

Cartographic Anomalies: How Map Projections Have Shaped Our Perceptions of the World At some point in all of our lives our perception of the world began to change- our knowledge of the world, from school or personal travel experience, began to grow in our minds a map of the world which started to encompass more than just our hometowns and the surrounding suburbs. Soon this mental map started to include nearby states or territories, other countries, and slowly but surely a global mental map was created in each of our minds, unique and personal to every one of us. These mental maps have common elements; for instance, Canada on your mental map will always be Canada, although the outlines may be fuzzy if you aren’t from there or don’t have a specific memory tied to that location. We all generally can place Europe and Asia, India and Australia, South America and Africa on our maps. Think of the map you learned about the world from in school- what did it look like? When you take a closer look at a map you may realize that not all is as it seems.

40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World If you’re a visual learner like myself, then you know maps, charts and infographics can really help bring data and information to life. Maps can make a point resonate with readers and this collection aims to do just that. Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. 40 maps that explain the internet The internet increasingly pervades our lives, delivering information to us no matter where we are. It takes a complex system of cables, servers, towers, and other infrastructure, developed over decades, to allow us to stay in touch with our friends and family so effortlessly. Here are 40 maps that will help you better understand the internet — where it came from, how it works, and how it's used by people around the world. How the internet was created Before the internet, there was the ARPANET Before the internet, there was the ARPANETARPANET, the precursor to the modern internet, was an academic research project funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency, a branch of the military known for funding ambitious research projects without immediate commercial or military applications. Initially, the network only connected the University of Utah with three research centers in California.

Africa defies Rome' at The British Museum Find out how this iconic bronze head of Rome’s first emperor Augustus became a symbol of African resistance in the ancient royal city of Meroë, in northern Sudan. When the Meroë Head was excavated in 1910, it caused an immediate sensation. It is remarkably well preserved and only survived because in antiquity it was ritually buried far from the borders of the Roman Empire. In this display you will come face to face with this potent symbol of Rome’s authority, and see how grains of sand, fused to the corroded surface of the bronze, still hint at its dramatic fate. Augustus became sole ruler in 27 BC, after a civil war that followed Julius Caesar’s assassination. The Meroë Head must have been created soon after.

20 Good Map Creation Tools for Students A couple of years ago I published a list of 21 online map creation tools. Since then some of those tools have gone offline and new tools have replaced them. Here's my updated list of online map creation tools for students and teachers. Wikia Maps is a map creation tool from Wikia. Wikia Maps has two map creation options. You can use Wikia Maps to create maps in a manner similar to those that you may have previously created in Google Maps. 8 Maps That Will Change the Way You Look at Africa  1. Where the world's 7 billion live This National Geographic map illustrates where and how the world lives. Not surprisingly, the areas with the highest income levels have greater life expectancy (77 for males, 83 for females compared to 58 and 60 in low income levels), access to improved sanitation (99 percent compared to 35 percent), among other human security factors.

100 Years of National Geographic Maps: The Art and Science of Where The coordinates of the office of The Geographer of the National Geographic Society are 38° 54' 18" N, 77° 2' 12" W. You might say that Juan José Valdés, who currently holds that title, knows exactly where he stands. But the scope of National Geographic's cartographic department, which celebrates its hundredth anniversary this year, encompasses not just those bearings, but also those of every mountain, river, lake, road, reef, fjord, island, inlet, glacier, ocean, planet, galaxy, and solar system—in short, any physical feature on land, on sea, or in space. At this writing (the count is obsolete as soon as it is tallied), National Geographic cartographers have produced 438 supplement maps, ten world atlases, dozens of globes, about 3,000 maps for the magazine, and many maps in digital form. What distinguishes a National Geographic map? Accuracy and attention to detail, certainly.

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