Portraits of the Earth

Portraits of the Earth

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''Every map is a tool, a product of human effort and creativity, that represents some aspects of our world or universe ... [This] course was powered by the belief that by exploring the mathematical ideas involved in creating and analyzing maps, students would see how mathematics could help them to understand and explain their world.'' -from the Preface Portraits of the Earth exemplifies the AMS's mission to bring the power and vitality of mathematical thought to the nonexpert. It isdesigned to teach students to think logically and to analyze the technical information that they so readily encounter every day. Maps are exciting, visual tools that we encounter on a daily basis: from street maps to maps of the world accompanying news stories to geologic maps depicting theunderground structure of the earth. This book explores the mathematical ideas involved in creating and analyzing maps, a topic that is rarely discussed in undergraduate courses. It is the first modern book to present the famous problem of mapping the earth in a style that is highly readable and mathematically accessible to most students. Feeman's writing is inviting to the novice, yet also interesting to readers with more mathematical experience. Through the visual context of maps andmapmaking, students will see how contemporary mathematics can help them to understand and explain the world. Topics explored are the shape and size of the earth, basic spherical geometry, and why one can't make a perfect flat map of the planet. The author discusses different attributes that maps can have anddetermines mathematically how to design maps that have the desired features. The distortions that arise in making world maps are quantitatively analyzed. There is an in-depth discussion on the design of numerous map projections-both historical and contemporary-as well as conformal and equal-area maps. Feeman looks at how basic map designs can be modified to produce maps with any center, and he indicates how to generalize methods to produce maps of arbitrary surfaces of revolution. Also includedare end-of-chapter exercises and laboratory projects. Particularly interesting is a chapter that explains how to use MapleR add-on software to make maps from geographic data points. This book would make an excellent text for a basic undergraduate mathematics or geography course and would beespecially appealing to the teacher who is interested in exciting visual applications in the classroom. It would also serve nicely as supplementary reading for a course in calculus, linear algebra, or differential geometry. Prerequisites include a solid grasp of trigonometry and basic calculus. RWaterloo Maple, Inc., Ontario, Canada.Essentially by definition, the distance between two points is equal to the length of the shortest path connecting them. ... Now, the radius of the equator is the same as the radius of the sphere itself, and this is the largest circle one can have on the sphere. ... To find the great circle connecting any two given points on a sphere, we first find the plane determined by these two points and the center of the sphere.

Title:Portraits of the Earth
Author: Timothy G. Feeman
Publisher:American Mathematical Soc. -

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