Questions for “Earth as you’ve never seen it before”

Maps always contain distortions, and the larger the area they display, the more obvious those distortions become. But a new technique rendered the round maps here with the fewest distortions ever, its developers say. Distances can be measured between any two points, sometimes by crossing to the other side.

J.R. Gott, R. Vanderbei and D. Goldberg

To accompany “Earth as you’ve never seen it before


Before Reading:

1.  What do you (or your family) use maps for and where do you find those maps?

During Reading:

1.  What is the advantage of a map over a globe? What is the advantage of a globe over a map?

2.  What problems do cartographers face when they attempt to make a map of a curved or spherical object (such as Earth)?

3.  In cartography, what is a projection? What is the most commonly used type of projection used to map the Earth?

4.  Give two examples from the story of the types of distortions that are seen on global maps using that common type of projection.

5.  The National Geographic Society uses one type of projection. What is its name and how accurate is it, according to a new analysis by J. Richard Gott, David Goldberg, Robert Vanderbei? How does the accuracy of that type of projection compare to one this trio has just developed?

6.  What does their new projection look like? What would be the challenge of drawing a line on this projection — without lifting your pencil or a string — to mark a path that runs between the North Pole and the southernmost tip of New Zealand?

7.  How would Nizar Ibrahim like to use the new projection? Why does he think it might help his students?

After Reading:

1.  For practical purposes, what would be some advantages to using the new type of projection? Where might it be less helpful? (Hint: Would you substitute it for map used in a cross-country drive?)