"FALLOW: The German cartographer, Mercator,
originally designed this map in 1569 as a navigational tool
for European sailors.
HUKE: The map enlarges areas at the poles to create
straight lines of constant bearing or geographic direction.
CYNTHIA SAYLES: So, it makes it easier to cross an ocean.
FALLOW: It distorts the relative size of nations and continents.
C.J.: Are you saying the map is wrong?
FALLOW: Oh, dear, yes. Uh, look at Greenland.
FALLOW: Now look at Africa.
FALLOW: The two landmasses appear to be roughly the
FALLOW: Would it blow your mind if I told you that Africa
is in reality fourteen times larger?
Josh nudges C.J. with his knee, C.J. pushes him back.
SAYLES: Here we have Europe drawn considerably larger
than South America when at 6.9 million square miles South
America is almost double the size of Europe’s 3.8 million.
HUKE: Alaska appears three times as large as Mexico,
when Mexico is larger by .1 million square miles.
SAYLES: Germany appears in the middle of the map when
it’s in the northernmost quarter of the Earth.
JOSH: Wait, wait. Relative size is one thing, but you’re telling
me that Germany isn’t where we think it is?
FALLOW: Nothing’s where you think it is."
This is from an episode of The West Wing (unofficial transcript) I recently watched, and it got me thinking again about this idea of location…