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Cool Video: What Earth Really Looks Like

Here is the challenge: Representing a three-dimensional object in two-dimensions. It is impossible to do without distortions. Those distortions can reflect cultural biases as well as the function of the map, such as for navigation purposes.

The Mercator Projection, which generates the map that may be most familiar, dates back to the 16th century. It projects the image on to a cylinder, where parallels of latitude are as long as the equator. It is especially useful for navigating the waters and some climatological purposes.

The Peters Projection seems to present the land masses in proportion to each other. Over the last couple of years, it has become the preferred map in many US and British schools. Still, all maps distort and the Peter Projection, for example, preserves the middle latitudes (where Peters lived) while diminishing the lower latitudes.

Last year, a Japanese architect and artist, Hajime Narukawa, of Keio University’s Graduate School of Media and Governance in Tokyo offered a new projection, the AuthaGraph World Map, which won Japan’s Good Design Grand Award. He did not offer simply a new projection but a new approach. Rather than abstract the globe on a cylinder and then a plane, Narukawa’s innovation was to project it on a tetrahedron, which can be unfolded numerous way. The innovation is that rather than one focal point, any place can be the center.

The AuthaGraph World Map appears similar to an older attempt (1943) to overcome some of the shortcomings of maps that existed. It is explained here, but check out the cool video (2 min) below.

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Marc Chandler
He is Global Head of Currency Strategy of Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH). He has been covering the global capital markets in one fashion or another for 25 years, working at economic consulting firms and global investment banks. He regularly appears on CNBC and has spoken for the Foreign Policy Association. In addition to being quoted in the financial press daily, Chandler has been published in the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and the Washington Post. BBH provides specialist services and innovative solutions to many Swiss asset managers that include a global custody network of close to 100 markets, accounting, administration, securities lending, foreign exchange, cash management and brokerage services. Feel free to contact the Zurich office of BBH
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