[Image: A map drawn according to the Fuller Projection in which the continents are accurately sized and not distributed according to northern and southern hemispheres but are actually projected as if seen from above, make them very closely grouped together and more accurately sized.]
Can we just take a moment to appreciate the Fuller Projection?
This map presents a world that is nearly contiguous and at accurate sizes and shapes to the continents.
And there is no “correct” orientation for it (the directionality of north/south being arbitrary after all )
The downsides are that it cuts up Antarctica and distorts the size of oceans, which is bad news for sailors and penguin researchers, but for geography in general it’s AWESOME
Created by Buckminster Fuller, writer of a gajillion books, owner of a gajillion patents, and the man whose name gave us Buckyballs.
I seriously love the Fuller Projection because - through no fault of their own - millions of kids go through school systems in so many places (not just the U.S.) with Mercator projection maps that are drawn such that they make North America and Europe look much bigger than they’ve ever really been in actual, factual reality. That projection reduces Africa to being the same size as Greenland.
You look at that big white mass hovering above Canada in this map and then look at the immense, enormous, magnificent size of Africa, or of South America which has never, ever been smaller than North America. That’s what reality is. We’re seriously teaching kids to go by a map that is not representative of the physical reality of the planet upon which we live.
Every time I see Fuller maps I just wanna go marching back to the school systems I went through with a fiery vengeance and a bullhorn, screaming through the halls, “EXPLAIN THIS BULLSHIT” and then encourage the current students to also demand of their teachers and school systems and parents and other adults who have been miseducating them for years that they EXPLAIN THIS BULLSHIT and not stop until the bullshit is explained.
That’s not the Fuller Projection (which, wow, yes it was invented by THAT Buckminster Fuller!). It’s the Pierce Quincunical. The P-Q isn’t an equal-area projection: it slightly enlarges the equatorial areas, including Africa and South America, and you can tell if you look closely at the circles of latitude.
^^This is the Fuller Projection, aka the Dymaxion Map. It isn’t quite equal-area either. Honestly, most equal-area maps look ugly as hell, but I’d say the least ugly one is the Goode-Homolosine:
Comparing all three, you can see that the landmasses are slightly different on each, and in terms of relative sizes, the GH is the only ‘right’ one. But there’s something great about the other two. They get the shapes right. They show how the continents connect, which is great for paleoanthropology. North isn’t at the top, in fact they do away with the whole nonsense of the Earth having a top or bottom.
They’re certainly all better than the Mercator. Hating on the Mercator is one of those fun, catharic exercises in consensus equivalent to complaining about Windows Vista.
But basically, no flat maps tell the whole truth. Even the really beautiful ones.
Here’s a quick trick that will give you some idea of how distorted a map is: Greenland should be roughly the size of the Indian subcontinent.
Of course, this only highlights the difference between the poles and the equators, but if you want to see how distorted those two areas are, it’s a quick and easy way to check.