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Maps and the Ideas they Express

Preliterate And Early Literate Maps, Printed Maps Of A More Detailed Globe, Nineteenth Century: General And Thematic Mapping

Cartography, the art and science of mapmaking, began before the invention of writing and continues to be fundamental to an understanding of the phenomena it represents graphically. Although typically associated with Earth, or parts of this body, its methods are applicable to the delineation of both the microcosm and the macrocosm. Thus, there is mapping of the human brain on the one hand, and the mapping of extraterrestrial space on the other. The unifying concept in mapping is the representation of spatial relationships and their interactions, and nowhere are these approaches more important than in geography. This entry will be concerned mainly with the map as it relates to physical and human geography, although some attention will be paid to extraterrestrial mapping. There will also be some references to GIS (geographical information systems); remote sensing of the environment through aerial and space imagery; and computer graphics (including animation). These are the twenty-first-century developments of more traditional forms of cartography. As Marshall McLuhan has expressed it, maps are one of a select group of media, "without which the world of science and technologies would hardly exist."

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Macrofauna to Mathematics