How do you make something round into something flat without distorting it? Something round, like a globe or a planet, is three dimensional. Something flat, like a paper map hanging on the wall, is two dimensional. If you try to peel the outside of the globe off like an orange peel, it would be a challenge to get that orange peel to lay flat like a paper map.

This is the problem with every map you’ve ever seen, including Google Maps: They’re all distorted in an attempt to flatten something spherical. Example: The Mercator Projection, which shows Greenland as larger than all of Africa and Alaska as larger than Mexico, just to name two of many misrepresentations. Vox’s Johnny Harris explains.

Related exploring: We’re big fans of thetruesize.com. Check it out.

Next: Globe Making (1955).

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