An atlas is a collection of maps, traditionally bound into book form, but now most often found in multimedia formats. As well as geographic features and political boundaries, many often feature geopolitical, social, religious and economic statistics.
The first book that could be called an atlas was constructed from the calculations of Claudius Ptolemy, a Greek geographer working in Alexandria circa A.D. 150. The first edition was published in Bologna in 1477 and was illustrated with a set of 27 maps, though scholars say that it is not known whether the printed maps were engraved versions of original maps made by Ptolemy, or whether they were constructed by medieval Greek scholars from Ptolemy's text.
The origin of the term atlas is a common source of misconception, perhaps because two different mythical figures named 'Atlas' are associated with mapmaking. King Atlas, a mythical King of Mauretania, was, according to legend, a wise philosopher, mathematician and astronomer who supposedly made the first celestial globe. However, the more widely known Atlas is a figure from Greek mythology.
Cartography or mapmaking is the study and practice of making representations of the Earth on a flat surface. The discipline of cartography combines science, aesthetics, and technical ability to create a balanced and readable representation that is capable of communicating information effectively and quickly. Cartographic representation involves the use of symbols and lines to illustrate geographic phenomena. This can aid in visualizing space in an abstract and portable format.
Functioning as tools, maps communicate spatial information by making it visible. Spatial information is acquired from measurement of space and can be stored in a database, from which it can be extracted for a variety of purposes. Current trends in this field are moving away from analog methods of mapmaking and toward the creation of increasingly dynamic, interactive maps that can be manipulated digitally.
Su Song (1020–1101 AD) was a renowned Chinese statesman, astronomer, cartographer, horologist, pharmacologist, mineralogist, zoologist, botanist, mechanical and architectural engineer, and ambassador of the Song Dynasty.
Su Song was the engineer of a water-driven astronomical clock tower in medieval Kaifeng depicted in his horological treatise, Xin Yi Xiang Fa Yao, which employed the use of an early escapement mechanism, armillary sphere and the oldest known endless power-transmitting chain drive, called the tian ti, or "celestial ladder". He also completed a large celestial atlas of several star maps, several terrestrial maps, as well as a treatise on pharmacology.
||Getting lost is the worst thing in the world, especially if you're with your wife. That's the nightmare. If you get lost with your wife you know it's gonna be a nightmare. Because you know when you hand your wife the map and you except her to turn into the Lombard rally with the helmet and goggles going, "Go! Go! Go! Left, right, straight ahead!" But they don't, you hand your wife the map and she'll go, "Where are we now?" "That's why I gave you the fucking map!" "All right, all right! You got us lost! Christopher fucking Columbus!" They then go, "Oh look, they have a Woolworths!" You fucking...
—Lee Evans, 2002
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