“We were sort of reaching the limit of what you could do,” Dr. Gott said. “If you wanted any significant breakthrough, you had to use a new idea.”
Dr. Gott’s version of Steph Curry’s wait-you-could-shoot-from-there 3? Use the back of the page, too. Make the world map a double-sided circle, like a vinyl record. You could put the Northern Hemisphere on the top side, and the Southern Hemisphere on the bottom, or vice versa. Or to put it differently: You could deflate the 3-D Earth into two dimensions. And if you did, you could blow the accuracy of previous maps out of the water.
Shapes also change in map projections. Distances vary. Straight lines curve. Some projections, such as Mercator, aim to excel at one of these concerns, which aggravates other errors. Other maps compromise, like the Winkel Tripel, so named because it tries to strike a balance between three kinds of distortion.
But while the new map excels at addressing distortion, Dr. Kerkovits said it also introduced a new weakness. You can see only half of the planet at once, unlike the Winkel Tripel and Mercator. That undermines the basic premise of flaying out the whole world for inspection on a single page or screen.
To Dr. Gott, this is no different than the 3-D globe itself. But Dr. Kerkovits isn’t quite sure: After all, you can always rotate a globe slightly to see the neighbors of any chosen point. But in the double-sided map, you might have to flip the entire thing.
Ultimately a map’s success depends on which applications it’s used for, and how its popularity grows over time. Dr. Gott, whose paper also presents double-sided projections of Jupiter and other worlds, envisions the new map style as a physical object to turn over in your hands.
“Glue it back to back with double-stick tape — I think that’s better than Elmer’s Glue, but you can use glue,” Dr. Gott said. Then cut it out. “Maybe use card stock paper,” he added.
Source: New York Times