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Globes vs Maps

Why Buy a Globe Instead of a World Map?

It is a reasonable question. World globes are, on the whole, more expensive than maps. Maps don't take up any room in the house, they fit on a wall. But world globes hold a number of advantages, beyond merely aesthetics. Sure, world globes are a great piece of furniture that adds character to your home. They're also more interactive than maps, making them better suited to education. However, world globes, most importantly, are also more accurate geographical tools than maps.

 

 

 

Representing the Earth Two Dimensionally

The central problem with maps has been around since the dawn of cartography: how do you represent a spherical and thus three-dimensional object (planet earth) on a two dimensional plane (a piece of paper). It turns out, to this day, the problem has still not been solved, and it may never be fully solved. Simply put, there is always going to be distortion when trying to depict the earth on a map.

 

 

 

Map Projections

Controversy consistently arises over which map projection features the least amount of distortion. A map projection is an attempt to fit the latitudes and longitudes of the planet on a two dimensional plane. One of the most famous map projections, the Mercator Projection, was invented to help sailors with navigation. The map makes the longitude and latitude into a perfect grid, with each parallel intersecting at right angles. It turns out, this is really useful for navigation, as sailors can plot the quickest routes with straight lines on a map, and is still used to this day. However, when looking at the landmasses on a Mercator Projection, it wildly distorts the northern hemisphere, making those continents look much bigger in relation to say, Africa or South America, than they are in real life. This is just one example of maps' inevitable inaccuracies.

 

 

Accuracy, Decoration, Interaction

It is no wonder then, that the world globe is a more accurate depiction of the world. After all, our world is three dimensional and not two dimensional. Continents on a world globe are accurately sized and proportional to one another. Their relative size and distance are correct, whereas maps inevitably contain some level of distortion. When it comes to geography, the world globe is superior to maps. That being said, world globes also inspire interaction in a way that maps do not. A world globe in a room is magnetic. People are always coming over to give it a spin and explore its properties. A world globe is a great decorative flourish to any space, but also a handy way to reference geographical questions, like when looking up a country that has recently made the headlines.