Mapping the World Around Us

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The world of maps is one of infinite possibilities. They help us navigate, but they can also be abstractions, diagrams of relationships or interactions over time. In this exhibit, check out a variety of maps, and try your hand at creating your own.

See maps that reveal how diseases spread, or how plants and animals form food chains in ecosystems; learn about the oldest map in the world and the stick maps used by Pacific Islanders and the Inuits; browse digital maps of the World Wide Web, human chromosomes, and the Renaissance globe; survey all the known galaxies of the universe, or plunge into the bedrock of North America; and discover how geometry projections allow map makers to transfer spatial information about the Earth's curved surface to 2-D sheets of paper.

Delve into mapmaking by learning to read a topographic map; pretending to sail around a mysterious island to map its coastline; and using a digital video player to fly over Alaska, Yosemite, or even the surface of Mars. Build a map of your room at home, or discover hidden meaning by comparing different kinds of population maps.

Photos © Emily Roose, © Larry Ralph

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