Vintage Video Explains Why We Still Can't Make an Accurate Map of the World

Depicting worlds on flat surfaces comes with a major catch.
Derya Ozdemir

When it comes to maps, one thing is for sure: Flattening a sphere is nowhere near an easy task. We could say all maps lie in one way or another since they are prone to distortions caused by changes in scale, symbols, projection, simplification, and choices about the map's content.

Ask the mapmakers, and they'll tell you they've suffered from this problem for ages. For example, the well-known Mercator projection, which you will remember from classroom walls, is good at showing local shapes, but it distorts surface regions so dramatically that Antarctica appears larger than all other continents combined, with Japan and Hawaii seeming quite far away.

If you're having trouble with visualizing, we have just the perfect thing for you. In this 1947 educational film directed by Evelyn Lambart, a grapefruit is used to demonstrate the challenge of portraying an accurate representation of the world on a flat surface. It's also perfect for explaining the concept to school kids since it's executed in an intriguing and fun matter with grapefruits and turnips. So make sure you watch the video above, and as always, enjoy!

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