Here's a map of the Earth.
It might look weird, but it's actually one of the most accurate world maps ever created.
Every continent, country, and ocean on this map is drawn to be proportionally accurate. It's as close as possible, size-wise, to the real thing.
The map was designed by Japanese architect and artist Hajime Narukawa, who just won a Good Design Award — one of the most prestigious design awards on the planet.
Speaking of the planet...
This map addresses a problem cartographers have been scratching their heads over for centuries: How exactly do you make an accurate map of the world?
You see, despite what some conspiracy theorists on YouTube think, the Earth is definitely a sphere. So unfolding it and printing it on a flat piece of paper is inherently difficult. It's a geometrical conundrum that will inevitably lead to inaccuracies.
It's like trying to make a square donut. You can pull it off, but it's going to look a little weird.
For hundreds of years, the answer has been this:
It's known as the "Mercator Projection." You may recognize it from your fourth grade classroom. Since it's invention in the 1500s, it's been the go-to standard for navigators, educators, diner placemat makers, and map enthusiasts.
It works pretty well for navigation but it's not without its problems. For example, Greenland looks to be a lot bigger than the United States when, in reality, you could comfortably fit Greenland into the U.S. about four times.
This cool interactive map shows the same "real size" effect for other countries around the world.
Narukawa's map takes a new approach. It unfolds the globe in a way that more accurately represents each landmass.
To do it, he divided the Earth into 96 regions. Then he mapped those regions onto a pyramid or tetrahedron. Unfold the tetrahedron and you get a flat rectangle that maintains (as close as possible) all the appropriate size and distance ratios.
There's even a version you can print out and re-fold into a spherical globe.
It's not perfect, but it's a beautiful design that gives us a fresh, new, and more accurate perspective of our planet. And aside from eating a square donut, how often do you get to look at the world in an entirely new way?