Scientists create a 2D map of the Earth more true to reality

Three scientists from the Universities of Princeton and Drexel, both from the United States, have developed a new method of representing planet Earth in a flat image. The projection, called Double-Sided Gott, involves the printing of the map as a double-sided circle dividing a globe in two and the separate designation of the hemispheres.

While 3D models provide a more accurate way of illustrating our home in space, there are several ways to make it 2D. None of them are perfect, however, as they all distort some aspect, like Mercator, used by Google Maps in local regions, and Winkel Tripel, found on National Geographic’s world maps. Even the second, experts say, divides the Pacific Ocean in two.

To achieve the expressive results that were released, J. Richard Gott, professor emeritus of astrophysics, and David Goldberg, professor of physics, relied on a scoring system created by them in 2007 to determine the accuracy of flat maps. The closer to zero a model is, the more faithful it will be to reality.

Considering the six types of distortions the samples can exhibit (local shapes, areas, distances, bend or curvature, asymmetry and boundary cuts or continuity gaps), while the Mercator reaches 8.296 and the Winkel Tripel 4.563, the Double-Sided Gott, represented by the two together with Robert Vanderbei, professor of operations research and financial engineering, reached an impressive 0.881.

“We believe this is the most accurate flat map of the Earth to date,” the team said.

Functional and assertive

One of the great advantages of the proposal is that it breaks the boundaries of the two dimensions without losing the logistical conveniences common to a flat card (eg storage and manufacturing).

“You can hold it in your hand,” says Gott, adding that a simple thin box can contain maps of all the major planets and moons in the solar system – as well as illustrations with physical data and on political boundaries, population density, climates or languages, as well as other desired information.

In fact, the novelty can also be printed on a single page of a magazine, the scientists say, ready for the reader to cut out. The three envision their cards in cardboard or plastic and then stacked as plates, stored together in a box or kept in the covers of textbooks.

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