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


Three scientists from Princeton and Drexel universities, both from the United States, developed a new method of representing the planet Earth in a flat image. The projection, dubbed Double-Sided Gott, involves printing the map as a double-sided circle in which a globe is divided into two and the separate indication of the hemispheres.

Although 3D models offer a more accurate way to illustrate our home in outer space, there are several ways to make it 2D. However, none of them are perfect, as they all distort some aspect or more, such as Mercator, used by Google Maps in local regions, and Winkel Tripel, found on National Geographic world maps. Even the second, experts say, divides the Pacific Ocean in two.

To achieve the expressive results released, J. Richard Gott, professor emeritus of astrophysics, and David Goldberg, professor of physics, relied on a scoring system created by them in 2007, capable of determining 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 that the specimens can present (local shapes, areas, distances, flexion or curvature, asymmetry and boundary cuts or continuity gaps), while the Mercator reaches 8,296 and the Winkel Tripel marks 4,563, the Double-Sided Gott, suggested by the two together with Robert Vanderbei, professor of operational research and financial engineering, reached an impressive rate of 0.881.

“We believe it is the most accurate flat map of the Earth so far,” argues the team.

Functional and assertive

One of the great advantages of the proposal is that it breaks the limits of the two dimensions without losing any logistical conveniences common to a flat map (storage and manufacturing, for example).

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“You can hold it in your hand,” says Gott, adding that a simple thin box could contain maps of all the major planets and moons in the Solar System – as well as illustrations that carry physical data and about political boundaries, population densities, climates or languages, as well as other desired information.

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


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