It’s Not a New Earth, Just a New Perspective: AuthaGraph World Map’s Accurate View

November 11, 2016

It looks confusing, unusual and wrong, but the AuthaGraph might be the most accurate map of the planet ever.

Japanese architect Hajime Narukawa solved a 447-year-old problem of the inaccurate and highly distorted traditional world map. We’ve used these maps since the 16th century. The traditional Mercator map tried to flatten the spherical globe but greatly distorted Greenland and Australia in the process.

[Image source: Good Design Award]

Hajime Narukawa designed the AuthaGraph World Map based on geometric rules, and he recently won Good Design Award.

[Image source: AuthaGraph]

His design is based on an idea of dividing the world into 96 triangles, flatting and transferring into a tetrahedron form. The dividing technique allows the map to be “unfolded” into a rectangle while still keeping the proportions of the continent.

[Image source: Good Design Award]

Narukawa‘s creation breaks other rules by throwing cardinal directions completely out. It also brings up some questions, like the position of Antarctica. Why is it off South America but not below New Zealand? AuthaGraph shows Antarctica underneath South America, and far to the right of New Zealand.

[Image source: AuthaGraph]

According to Narukawa, the AuthaGraph map “represents all oceans, continents including Antarctica which has been neglected in many existing maps in substantially proper sizes. These fit in a rectangular frame without interruptions and overlaps.”

[Image source: AuthaGraph]

The traditional map we grew up with in school was drawn by cartographer Gerardus Mercator, who was the world’s most famous geographer in the 16th century. His map based on a new projection that shows sailing courses of constant bearing as straight lines. Mercator projections are still used in nautical charts for navigation.

[Image source: Wikipedia]

To help sailors navigate the oceans, Mercator used the lines of longitude aka meridians in a parallel way. He named his map “Nova et Aucta Orbis Terrae Descriptio ad Usum Navigantium Emendate Accommodata” meaning the “New and more complete representation of the terrestrial globe properly adapted for use in navigation

But what Mercator maps distort, AuthaGraphic looks to restore. Here are some differences:

[Image source: AuthaGraph]

The World without Ends

In the end, the Narukawa explains his design named “World without Ends” in these words:

“It is able to tile the AuthaGraphic world map without gaps and overlaps. The way of tessellation has seamless connections between maps as if it is an Escher’s tiling. Same as fishes and birds in his painting, six continents are never fragmented and seven oceans keep their continuous networks. It had been thought the world is on an infinite plane since geometries of a sphere and of an infinite plane are similar. Walking on both surfaces, we do not meet an end. A geographical network in the map is able to expand to any directions on the tessellated maps. Thus the world map reproduces the spherical world without dead end on a plane.”