News/Opinion by Kip Hansen – 5 March 2021

Flat-earthers all over this flat Earth are rejoicing now that  “a brash new world map [is] vying for global domination.”   This brand new world map is gloriously flat . . . absolutely flat.   In fact, it is a two-sided, two-dimensional disc.  To have your very own copy, you need only use your color printer to print out either of the files available at these links:  Click here to download the .docx file or choose this one as a .pdf. 

The wonderful news is reported in The New York Times in a piece titled: “Can This New Map Fix Our Distorted Views of the World?” written by Joshua Sokol.  Now, I don’t know if Mr. Sokol really thinks that the maps we find in our families’ prized World Atlases actually lead us to have distorted views of the world.  But it is certainly not true about our children and grand-children who have to be physically forced to open a real printed book for any purpose.  All of mine would much rather whip out their SmartPhone™ or their tablet or laptop computer and pull up Google Earth or any one of the hundreds of other rotatable- and zoomable digital globes of our planet (take your pick from this Google search results list or this DuckDuckGo search).

So, introduction complete, here’s the new map:

Here’s the link for a very cool little mp4 movie showing that Flat-Earthers have been right all along.

The neat thing about this “disc-Earth” is that if you were a very tiny person and you were to walk south from any point in the Northern Hemisphere, when you got to the edge – the very very edge – and were to take one more step further (even a half-step) you find yourself on the other side of the Earth! 

Now, you may think that a whole lot of effort has been put into the creation of this questionably-useful Map of the Earth.  Joshua Sokol at the Times quipped that “Cartographers who regularly study world maps — perhaps fewer than 10 people — will now have time to react.”   That sounded about right to me – I mean, how many people care even a little bit about such things.  Boy, was I surprised when I looked up the topic of Map Projections.  There are literally hundreds of these, all with their reported advantages and faults.  To do a little exploring, try these links:

  1.  From the United States Geological Survey, their 1989 Professional Paper 1453, “An Album of Map Projections” 262 pages.  (.pdf)
  2. Wolfram MathWorld site offers a list of about 60 different types of projections – each type having many individual examples.
  3. Radical Cartography offers a list of Wall Maps with thumbnails.
  4. The “Compare Map Projections” site has a very extensive list of projections, with a tool that allows one to compare any two projections against one another.  There are three from Dr. Gott, but not the latest one discussed here.
  5. MapRef  has a very fine discussion about map projections, more than you will ever want to know (unless you are one of the 10 or so World Cartographers…)

Of course, the best reference for the new projection is the original draft of the study  “Flat Maps that Improve on the Winkel Tripel” by Richard Gott, David M. Goldberg and Robert J. Vanderbei. (on arxiv.org, .pdf available)  There are “lots of pictures” even if you don’t read much of the text.

The Winkel Tripel in the title?  That’s this one:

This is the previous improvement on the above from Richard Gott and Karlheinz Wagner:

If you read Gott et al. paper, you will discover that Gott claims to have made a similar map of the entire Universe.  What could go wrong with that?

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Image Credit: The “It’s flat bro…” mug image from Etsy. LovedOnesGifts made this item with help from Mug Printing and Warehouse Partner, Bristol, PA. You can buy one here.

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Author’s Comment:

Dr. Gott, you can have this suggestion free-of-charge.  Quickly secure the rights to your disc-Earth image (and all the others from your paper: The Moon, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and the Universe) and farm the rights  out to manufactures to make plastic disc-Earths and moons and planets for sale in all the science and natural history  Museum Shops around the world.  You are right, they will make wonderful additions to the bedrooms of little boys and girls, hanging by a little strings from the ceilings or combined to make Alexander-Calder-like mobiles above babies cribs.  Better yet, make the entire set of the planets to make solar system mobiles!  (I want one, please).

I’m going to make a paper one for my three-year old grandson.

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March 3, 2021 at 04:05AM