Maps are one of those things you can lose yourself in for hours. Since their humble origins as scribbles in the sand thousands of millennia ago, maps have been useful companions during the development of human culture and society. Now, in an age of seemingly endless information, maps are more abundant, advanced and fascinating than ever before. Here are some of the most interesting maps we could find; hopefully, they will leave you looking at our little “pale blue dot” with a fresh perspective.
GOODE HOMOLOSINE PROJECTION
Image credit: Strebe/Wikimedia Commons
The most common form of map, known as the Mercator map, is actually surprisingly inaccurate. Yep, you’ve been lied to since first-grade geography class. The problem arises when we try to represent a three-dimensional object, like the Earth, in a two-dimensional projection. The result is a map that exaggerates the size of the areas that are further away from the equator. The Goode homolosine projection was created to fix this problem by providing a more accurate depiction of scale.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE OF AFRICA
Image credit: Kai Krause
You’d be forgiven for thinking the continent of Africa is about the same size as North America. This image, created by graphics designer Kai Krause, actually shows you can fit China, India, the United States, Japan and the majority of European countries into the landmass of Africa.
THIS IS WHERE 5 PERCENT OF THE WORLD LIVES
Image credit: Max Galka
The red blob in South Asia shows where 5 percent of the world live. The blue areas show where another 5 percent live, while the white areas show where the other 90 percent live.
Max Galka, the creator of this fascinating map, told io9: “If anything, I see South Asia’s dense population as a positive thing. It is very efficient economically, socially, and environmentally for people to live in dense population centers. And a movement out of rural areas into cities is a trend that is happening everywhere in the world, even in India and Bangladesh. So in that sense, they are ahead of the curve.”
THE WORLD MAP SCALED ACCORDING TO POPULATION SIZE
Image credit: TeaDranks / Reddit
In a similar vein of showing how mind-numbingly huge populations are in parts of Asia, this infographic scales the world map according to each country’s population. Each square of the map represents 500,000 people – damn, that makes you feel insignificant.
Fairly unsurprisingly, India and China swell up like balloons. However, it is interesting to see the jump of nearly one billion people between the second most populated country – India – and the third most populated country – the United States. Click here to see the full high-resolution image, which also shows the Americas, Australasia and the rest of Asia.
MODERN BORDERS IN A PREHISTORIC WORLD
Image credit: Massimo Pietrobon
Pangea is the supercontinent that began to break apart around 200 million years ago. Massimo Pietrobon has created a map to display how the modern concept of nation states fits in with this prehistoric landmass.
WHO’S HOOKED UP TO THE INTERNET?
Image credit: John Matherly
This map shows the amount of people who are connected to the Internet. The redder the area, the more people are connected.
To create this map, John Matherly, founder of the search engine Shodan, sent “ping” signals to every IP address on the Internet and recorded the response. The whole process took just five hours.
However, it is worth remembering this map was produced in 2014.
A MAP OF PREVENTABLE DISEASE OUTBREAKS
Image credit: Council of Foreign Relations
This interactive map, created by the Council on Foreign Relations, uses data from health organizations and the media to create a live map of disease outbreaks. The blue dots signify areas of Mumps, green is whooping cough, orange is Polio, yellow is “other,” pink-purple is Rubella and the duller mauve refers to measles.
Perhaps what is most depressing about this map is that all the diseases are easily preventable from inexpensive vaccinations. However, economic deprivation and cultural beliefs (such as the anti-vaccination movement) mean they remain unused or unavailable.
A MAP OF THE KNOWN COSMOS
Image credit: The University of Waterloo
Now, for something a little bit different. Using data gathered from over 2 billion light-years from Earth, astrophysicists from the University of Waterloo developed the most extensive map of the universe yet.
On the map, light blue indicates the presence of galaxies, light blue to white represents a greater concentration of galaxies and the red areas show superclusters of galaxies. The unexplored regions appear in medium blue.
The map also details the motion of these galaxies, which you can check out in the video above.
HOW MAPS WILL LOOK IF CARBON EMISSIONS REMAIN UNCHECKED
Image credit: Carbon Central
Next up is a cartographical take on climate change. The interactive map allows you to enter your zip code (post code) to see how sea levels will change in your area if carbon emissions remain unchecked, compared to a scenario where governments and corporations globally make aggressive cuts.
REAL-TIME WEATHER MAP
Image credit: Cameron Beccario
This interactive map by Cameron Beccario shows live weather data projected onto a world map. It updates around every three hours with real-time data on temperatures, wind, humidity and many other variables.