Cahill Butterfly Map 1909
Cahill 1909
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Cahill-Keyes M-layout world map silhouette including Antarctica
Cahill-Keyes 1975
Why Cahill? What about Buckminster Fuller?

Evolution of the Dymaxion Map:
An Illustrated Tour and Critique

Part 9.8

by Gene Keyes

Summary: I love Bucky, but Cahill's map is a lot better. Here's how.

Click inside boxes to open other sections in separate windows.
1) Introduction and
Background Notes

2) 1943:
Split Continents

3) 1944:
Whole Continents

4) 1946:
The Dymaxion Map Patent

5) 1954
Whole Continents

6) 1967 ff:
Later Editions and
World Game Versions

7) 1995 ff
Dymaxion Maps
on the Internet

8) Notes on Scaling Dymaxion Maps
9) Critique:
Dymaxion Map Compared to Cahill

9) Critique: Seven Design Flaws of Fuller's Map as Compared to Cahill's
9.1) Layout assymetrical
9.2) Graticule irregular
9.3) Korea distorted
9.4) Scalability poor
9.5) Anti-metric edges
9.6) Globe fidelity poor
9.7-a) Learnability poor
9.7-b) Learnability poor
9.8) Conclusion

Part 9.8

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.

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.

Technical notes: These web pages were prepared by Gene Keyes on a very low budget, with old low-end equipment. My second-hand Mac Biege G3 with OS 9.2 is eleven years old, and does yeoman work. Scanning was done with an inexpensive six-year-old HP 1210 printer-copier-scanner. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) was performed with ReadIris 7.0, which was bundled with the HP 1210. Photos of the globes were made without a tripod, using a low-end CX 7500 Kodak digital camera, 3.2 megapixels. Images were handled, cropped, de-bloated*, or resized using Goldberg and/or BigPicture, two freeware programs for Mac OS 9. Some graphics were done with ClarisWorks 5 (Paint, and Draw). Web pages were designed in Netscape 7.01 Composer, and tidied in BBEdit 3.5 and iCab 2.9.9. The click-to-change-picture-size routine (JavaScript) was provided by

* "De-bloating" means converting excessively large image formats from the Web, such as png's, to jpegs, without losing the originals' dimensions or quality. I often do that when friends or relatives send me needlessly enormous photos or scans.

As stated in the Disclaimer: All sources have been credited as best I can; this presentation is a labor-of-love, money-losing hobby, aimed at the increase and diffusion of knowledge; i.e., no  copyrights have been poached for my commercial use, this being a completely non-commercial, non-profit endeavor by a retired professor living on a shoestring.

My own written materials in this llustrated Tour and Critique are freely available under Creative Commons license for fair non-commercial public use. The Cahill-Keyes Map has been copyrighted, but is also freely available for fair non-commercial public use. (All with source-credit, of course!). Just check with me if you have a commercial idea, thanks. 

Comments, anyone?

Though this is not a blog with space for direct posting, I will be happy to include responses, rebuttals, corrections, and comments if you email them to me:

gene.keyes ~~AT~~

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or snail mail:

Gene Keyes
55 Douglas Ave.
Berwick, Nova Scotia  B0P 1E0

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Text cc. 2009 by Gene Keyes; Cahill-Keyes Map c. 1975, 2009  by Gene Keyes