TechWire

How maps are made!

Have you ever thought of how maps are made into a flat surface? Can you cut a ball and show me the surface of the ball as a plane? No, you can’t. Then, you may have to make some amendments to do so.

The surface of the sphere cannot be represented as a plane without any distortion. Carl Friedrich Gauss has mathematically proven this. So, long time ago mathematicians have implemented algorithms to achieve this. For that, they used a process called Projection.

Popular rectangular maps are created with cylinder core projections. That is by putting the globe into a cylinder and projecting each point of the globe to the cylinder surface.

You can project the globe also to other objects, and that will affect the way the map looks.

All these projection methods come with trade-offs such as distance, direction, and land area. Those different maps can be used for different kind of purposes.

Mercator projection

Considers on the shape of the countries, but the sizes of the countries are way different.

Gall Peters Projection

This is the opposite of the above method because this considers the size of the land area, but the shape of the map is not the exact shape in the correct map.

Robinson projection

This kind of maps considers on the size and the shape of high-latitude lands.

Transverse Mercator projection

This is a  highly successful Mercator projection method of projecting.

In late 60’s a revolution was initiated with the arrival of the satellite. Satellites orbiting around the planet started to send location and navigation data to small receiver units all around the world. Then we were able to update the maps to reflect the changes occurring time to time. In early 90’s European map-makers started to create new maps. With that many types of maps born. Such as,

  • Geographic maps
  • Political maps
  • Physical maps
  • Topographic maps
  • Thematic maps
  • Isogram (isoline) maps
  • Cartograms

Those maps were improved versions of the maps we had in past which were made by projection. Nowadays these maps can represent the soil types, geographical information, population scattered throughout the world and much more information.

So now the downfalls we had in Mercator projection, and Gall Peters projection are resolved.

Currently, maps have been evolved drastically and even are digitized. So maps are now simplified and can update rapidly.

With the newly innovated technologies, you can navigate through maps. That technology is called GPS(Global Positioning System). Now it has become an integral part of our lives. If you are lost on your way to your destination, GPS will easily navigate to your destination. GPS technology will point you out the location through a small GPS receiver. GPS receivers are included in many more applications we are using today such as cars, laptops, smartphones.

You will be able to experience many more new technologies with the newly designed maps in the near future.

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Nimasha Jayathunga

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