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ORBIS TERRARUM
July 18, 2014 11:26 AM   Subscribe

In 1909, American architect and cartographer Bernerd J.S. Cahill published An Account Of A New Land Map Of The World (and at The Internet Archive), in which he described a novel way of projecting a map.

In 1912, B.J.S. Cahill published A Land Map of the World on a New Projection, a long explanation of the deficencies of various projections and his thinking behind the new, octahedral, "butterfly" map. In 1914, Scientific American described it as "the best attempt tso far to map the globe on a plane."

Cahill worked on his new map for the rest of his life, improving and refining it. He Mad maps of the circumnavigation of the globe by air, and the international connections of his home, San Francisco. He even produced one at 1/12,500,000.

In 1934, Cahill wrote A World Map To End World Maps, which he concluded:
From the very beginning the author's deliberate aim has been to design a world mapping system, which in the main could not be improved upon and which, sooner or later, would be universally adopted. He is confident that after thirty-five years work he has finally succeeded. Dissent from this view to be effective should indicate another system as good or better. Until that is done the author commits his work to the consideration of his contemporaries and the judgment of posterity.
B.J.S. Cahill passed away in 1944, and his archives are at UC Berkeley. A year prior, R. Buckminster FUller published his Dymaxion Map, which "is the only flat map of the entire surface of the Earth which reveals our planet as one island in one ocean, without any visually obvious distortion of the relative shapes and sizes of the land areas, and without splitting any continents."
Projection Smackdown: Cahill’s Butterfly vs. the Dymaxion Map:
Take a look at the United States on the Fuller map. See the diagonal line that bisects the country? Notice the graticules? They run away from the seam at different angles, a pattern that repeats itself across the entire map. Every facet of the Dymaxion map has a different pattern of longitude and latitude. There isn’t a single large landmass on the planet that’s free from bent meridians and broken parallels. Not being a geographer, Fuller probably didn’t understand that there are no free lunches in mapmaking. Every rectitude has a price. Despite its unfilled promises, there’s no denying Fuller’s projection makes beautiful thematic maps.
People have followd in Cahill's footsteps, creating more and more octahedral world maps.

Gene Keyes ("and his 40 year quest for the perfect map")wrote Evolution of the Dymaxion Map: An Illustrated Tour and Critique:
I want a single, general purpose, world map projection, with high fidelity to a globe, suitable at all scales from smallest to largest, good for one country or the whole planet. I want a world map and globe as a synoptic pair, comparable to each other at a glance, or in detail. I want geography learners at any age to be able to grasp the globe and world map as readily as do-re-mi.

By these criteria, Fuller falters; Cahill excels.
Keyes, in 1975, created the Cahill-Keyes Multi-Scale Megamap (maps), having previously written 10 Principles For A Coherent World Map System
As stated in my critique of Fuller's map, I want a single, general purpose, world map projection, with high fidelity to a globe, suitable at all scales from smallest to largest, good for one country or the whole planet. I want a world map and globe as a synoptic pair, comparable to each other at a glance, or in detail. I want globes and maps each to have at least a 5° graticule. I want geography learners at any age to be able to grasp the globe and world map as readily as do-re-mi. Cahill is the key.
The New York Times printed a series of maps based on the Cahill-Keyes projection in 2011.

In 1996, Steve Waterman created the Waterman Projection, another butterfly-like map. Keyes critiques it as having significant problems in the polar areas.

Keyes provides a how-to for his map and files: How to easily view a 9,000 square foot Megamap pdf without getting lost: panning & re-sizing

More on polyhedral projections.

"Listen, forget these questions. Are you doing anything tonight?"
posted by the man of twists and turns (5 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
I work in the mapping department of a public utility.

There are people here who will sing your praises when I show them this.

Thanks

posted by mmrtnt at 11:43 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


A problem with all of these maps is that they are land-biased. It makes sense, since we almost all live on land, but it does make it harder to understand the very important relationships that exists through the oceans.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:14 PM on July 18


Well Monday what we need is one of these, but:

1. 349 $ is a little out of my price range;

2. 13 inch diameter is something I don't now have desktop space for.

It being 2014 you would think somebody could manufacture a globe in the 6 - 8 inch range manufactured in mass in a country with low wages. At that size I could squish it in on top of my computer.
posted by bukvich at 1:59 PM on July 18


For you, Monday:

Interrupted sinusoidal map with asymmetric lobes emphasizing oceans

From Carlos A. Furuti's incredibly comprehensive map projections site, section on interrupted maps.
posted by narain at 3:29 PM on July 18


I'm reading Maphead right now, so this is perfect timing for this post for me. Lots of really interesting things to read through - thank you!
posted by jessypie at 6:49 PM on July 19


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