Day in and day out, most people don’t invest a lot of time thinking about how outdated cartography really is. When you hear that the map on which all our perceptions of the world are based on a technique finalized in 1569, it might not sound too concerning. After all, how hard can it be to translate real world measurements to a piece of paper. All you really need is time, patience, and a big enough ruler, right? As it happens, the science and art of cartography has seen some monumental changes in the last 450 years — and the result is that everything you thought you knew about the world’s map is probably wrong. Here’s why.
1. The Map You Know
At the moment, the world’s most widely accepted means of cartography — or map-making — is a method established by Flemish geographer Gerardus Mercator at the end of the fourteenth century. It was designed not for accuracy, but to help ship’s captains get around the world safely. So, it was useful when a sail was your best means of getting from point ‘A’ to point ‘B,’ but these days it’s a little bit outdated.
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