Tue, Aug 21, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Taiwanese inventor wins gold in Tokyo with irregular globe

By Liu Hsiao-hsin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Assistant professor Lin Chih-chung demonstrates his award-winning ellipsoid-shaped globe on Aug. 9 at Chienkuo Technology University in Changhua County.

Photo: Liu Hsiao-hsin, Taipei Times

A redesigned globe to better represent the Earth’s geography won inventor and Chienkuo Technology University assistant professor Lin Chih-chung (林志重) a gold medal at the World Genius Convention and Education Expo in Tokyo on July 4 and 5.

Lin’s impetus to make a better representation was due to a pet peeve about globes and maps being “off” and his compulsion to correct them, he said.

“The Earth’s shape is not a sphere, but an ellipsoid,” Lin said, adding that spherical globes magnify geographical features that occur at higher latitudes.

Globes mass-produced by machinery often have a thick black line as the equator, but the line tends to block details such as rivers, he said.

The locations of islands and straits tend to be inexact on machine-pressed globes, he said.

Such globes are cheaper, but the trade-off is that the location and scale of the geographical features are imprecise, Lin said.

“I have seen some models where there is a break in the Danube River, or the shape of Taiwan is out of proportion,” he said.

Lin said he conceived of making an ellipsoid globe after studying umbrellas, which have fabric stitched over the ribs instead of the ribs being made to fit the fabric.

“No one mandated that globes must be a completely smooth sphere,” Lin said.

Utilizing his familiarity with projection and global information system technology, Lin said he created a convex frame formed out of 12 separate acrylic sheets, adding that the sheets could form an ellipsoid flat map that offers more precise geographical detail.

Lin is filing for a patent in Taiwan and said he is considering mass-producing the globes.

Taiwanese teams and individuals competing in the expo won 22 golds, 10 silvers, two bronzes and five special awards.

Taiwan also obtained the highest number of awards at last year’s expo: 29 golds, 17 silvers and six special awards.

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