Skip to main content

That is the subtitle of an interlinked set of 17 profusely illustrated web pages dissecting Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion map. I contrast it with the octahedral projection of B.J.S. Cahill (1866-1944), published in 1909, and developed over a thirty year period. The full set is at my "B.J.S. Cahill Resource Page"
In this diary I will quote from its conclusion:
• Even in the 21st century, the prevailing world view is still corrupted by Mercatoritis: for instance, all Google Maps.

• A century ago, in 1909, B.J.S. Cahill was among the first to denounce the mis-use of the Mercator in education and all non-maritime venues.
More after the jump.

• B.J.S. Cahill’s 1909 whole-continent, whole-earth octahedral map preceded R. Buckminster Fuller’s inferior Dymaxion map by 35 years; Cahill’s patent preceeded Fuller’s by 33 years.

• Cahill’s world map is a design masterpiece with internal as well as external symmetry; has perfect consonance with a globe at a glance or in exacting closeup; has reasonably undistorted whole continents; and 10,000-km Great-Circle-edges in harmony with the metric system.

• Fuller’s world map is a flawed attempt, versus Cahill’s cartographic tour de force: the Dymaxion is asymmetrical both as a whole, and in any of its facets; it is off-axis and non-comparable to a globe; the word "undistorted" does not apply to Fuller’s graticule, nor to his Eurasia; and it ignores the metric system, with which it is incompatible.

• In general, the concordance of a world map and a globe cannot be judged well unless both have at least a 5° or preferably 1° graticule highlighted at 5°.

• When Buckminster Fuller first presented his cubo-octahedron Dymaxion map in Life magazine in 1943, it had a partial 5° graticule, but disrupted continents.

• When Fuller published his 1954 icosahedral Dymaxion map with whole continents, it had a downgraded 15° graticule, which prevents adequate comparison to a counterpart globe.

• Closer inspection of Fuller’s icosahedral reveals that with a 1° or 5° graticule, it deviates vividly from the smooth regular grid on a globe, and from the smooth regular grid on a Cahill world map.

• Closer inspection of Fuller’s icosahedral further reveals severe distortion of Korea and vicinity, plus Norway and vicinity. Fuller’s map cannot be scaled upward without exposing the ruinous deformities of its graticule, of East Asia, and of Northern Europe.

• Fuller’s map is shown to be inimical to the metric system; its triangle edge length is an undeclared and irrational 7,048.89 km; and none of its meridians or parallels are true to scale, nor aligned to the edges of its triangles.

• Fuller’s map for all these reasons proves to be a poor geographic teaching tool at any level from grade school to grad school, and likewise a poor learning tool for oneself in any context.

• Fuller’s map can, however, be seen as a transitional phase toward the geodesic dome; plus "Energetic-Synergetic Geometry"; and likewise as a nice piece of art for art’s sake; but not a good replication of a globe, compared to B.J.S. Cahill’s octahedral world map.

• In sum, a Cahill world map, and counterpart globe, synoptically point to a realistic whole-earth basis for renovating geographic education, and general-purpose mapping. Fuller had the right idea, but the wrong map. Cahill had it right all along. A Cahill world map is the alter ego of the Earth and its globe.

Originally posted to esperanto41 on Wed Jun 17, 2009 at 07:48 PM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  hooray! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Hooray for cartography blogging!

    Prison rape is not funny.

    by social democrat on Wed Jun 17, 2009 at 08:29:56 PM PDT

  •  Well, now... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    social democrat, gmoke, esperanto41

    ...that is one seriously beautiful map.

    Are there posters available?  I use Bucky's map in my classes on multiculturalism in education (it's interesting watching my students try and figure out what happened to East/West and North/South on the Dymaxion Map).  I would love to use the Cahill map.

    On a side note:

    In 1979 I played African thumb piano while Buckminster Fuller tapdanced on stage at the Harvard Science Center in Cambridge, MA.  I was twenty or twenty-one at the time.  That moment remains one of my peak musical memories.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Wed Jun 17, 2009 at 09:05:26 PM PDT

    •  Cahill map poster? (0+ / 0-)

      Cahill's world maps are way out of print, and my ¨Cahill-Keyes" is just a b&w draft, though I did make some offset prints totalling 16 x 32 inches of a version twice the size of the one on my website
      (without the peeling globes). However, there is a Cahill-type wall map by Steve Waterman, published in 1996 and available from ODT. I like my design better, but Waterman's is in color and professionally produced. See description and link at

  •  Um, why can't people just show photos of earth... (0+ / 0-)
    ... from space?

    The photos can be printed on paper, taken from many angles, and have borders graphically added as desired.

    I'm afraid I'm missing the whole point of this diary. Why do we need any of these "projections"?

    Isn't it nice to have a SMART President?

    by ibonewits on Wed Jun 17, 2009 at 09:18:00 PM PDT

    •  ah, but... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ibonewits, esperanto41're doing a projection whenever you translate a three-dimensional object into two dimensions.

      A photograph of earth from space is a projection.

      And like every other projection, it's a distorted one: on the part of Earth closest to the camera, any two given points appear farther apart then they would if they were farther away from the camera.

      With the "many angles" approach you suggest, you've got to decide how to stitch those photos of different parts of the earth taken from different vantage points together into a single view.

      Which is really just another way of saying you've got to either decide to use an existing projection, or come up with a new projection of your own.

      This is why I think cartography is so cool: the ideal is to convey information in a way that's economical, perhaps useful, hopefully beautiful, but also truthful, though we know full well every map is an intentional distortion.

      Mapmakers are like philosophers under an ancient curse - wanting nothing more than to discover and tell the truth as helpfully and beautifully as they can, but doomed to speak only in the form of lies.

      Prison rape is not funny.

      by social democrat on Thu Jun 18, 2009 at 06:49:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site