Mercator Maps–the Ugly Truth

Mercator Map Puzzle


My geography teacher in High School was a complete bore, but I listened anyway!  Most of the kids didn’t.  I still got my “A”, but not because of the excellent teaching.  I’ve always been a bit of a geography nut, but then my wife would probably add that I’m generally nuts about lots of things–or just plain nuts.

I’ve always found our world, and the people in it (and everything/everyone outside our world, too), to be very interesting and worth study.  But that’s just me, right?

I really enjoyed this little puzzle that challenges you to place the countries colored red into their correct spots, turning them green.  While you are doing this, however, you are actually learning more than your geography probably tried to teach you in a week of trying.

You see, it’s really tough to project a sphere on a flat surface.  Oh, you can do it, but it comes out pretty ugly.  Your face, for example, would be mostly unrecognizable if we projected it on a flat surface (such as if you fell face first off the Empire State building onto a sidewalk, but then I digress…).

The main take-away is that most of us look at the world on a flat surface, and land masses are badly distorted in size as you move them away from the middle-center of the map–in this case, around Ecuador.  Even if you don’t play the game (try to beat me: 1 minute, 36 seconds), grab Greenland and move it around.  Big ol’ continent huh?  Let’s see how big you look now, parked next to Brazil!!  Oh wait, you can’t grab Greenland just yet.  It’s hiding somewhere as a smaller outline.  There, that’s your one hint, so I’m giving you a handicap towards beating my time.  But really, try grabbing any small red outline near the equator, and drag it out towards the poles.  Gets really big, eh?

So what’s the Ham Radio tie-in here?  Not a whole lot, except that as hams on HF, we often look at flat maps, when we ought to be thinking more of the semi-spherical world with its interesting signal propagation and what-not.  Oh, and this puzzle was linked from one of the guys on our remote-controlled superstantion email group.  There, there’s your ham tie-in.  Enjoy the game, and just try and beat me, if you dare!


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