Thursday, April 22, 2010

I must speak out on the this one

Recently, while at work, I was discussing why Google maps do not include a scale. In fairness to Google, the maps may have this functionality, but I am ignorant as to how to enable this feature.

My hypothesis as to why there is no scale was a simple one. To accurately determine scale for a map, one would need to consider the topography of land the map covers. Maybe Google just does not want to go to the trouble.

Seems simple enough to me, but to my surprise, the other two parties in the conversation said that topography has nothing to do with scale on this map. Huh?!? I stipulated the point to avoid a nasty argument where more than one person might need to get schooled, Sesame Street style.

Well, I can't take it anymore; time for some schooling. The assertion I am attempting to buttress is that topography (whether there are mountains and valleys on the surface of the earth) matters when applying a scale marker on a map. Google could probably estimate this very accurately since topography overlays are available to them, but who wants to do calculus for such a small thing? Anyway, here is an image which details my explanation.

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