Different kind of discworld

The Terry Pratchett kind that we’re not talking about today

If you’re a Terry Pratchett fan you’ve likely heard of Discworld. This is not that.*

The kind of discworld I want to bring to your attention today is a new map projection designed by Princeton astrophysicist J. Richard Gott and colleagues, which apparently addresses six different kinds of map distortions that plague other maps we’re more used to.

These include the way that the familiar Mercator projection makes Greenland look about the size of Africa† and Alaska the size of Mexico, when neither is remotely close. In addition to size distortion, shapes can change, distances vary, straight lines curve. You can read more about this disc projection in this New York Times article, complete with a little animation. What’s more, Dr. Gott invites you to print out your own map using the appendix of his paper.

Being a fan of cartography, I’ve made a number of posts about maps over the years. Typing “map” into the blog’s search bar will set you up for some browsing, but you can also try these links:

A watery new perspective

Immapancy

Shrinking inaccuracies down to size

When distortion makes things clearer

Dance of the ever-changing borders

 

*When the pandemic began last March we were in Germany and Ninja was in the US, and one of our strategies to stay connected was to read books together on a video call. We enjoyed it so much we’ve kept it up. We recently read an early book in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series called Equal Rites, which was a lot of fun.

†For a look at how Africa actually compares to other land masses, check out this post on Immapancy.

 

[Images: vsbattles.fandom.com, NYTimes]

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