12 DEC 2011 by ideonexus

 Earth's Curve, Flat Maps, and the Fastest Route Between T...

Imagine, say, that you wanted to travel from New York to Madrid, two cities that are at almost the same latitude. If the earth were flat, the shortest route would be to head straight east. If you did that, you would arrive in Madrid after traveling 3,707 miles. But due to the earth's curvature, there is a path that on a flat map looks curved and hence longer, but which is actually shorter. You can get there in 3,605 miles if you follow the great-circle route. which is to first head northeast,...
Folksonomies: geometry models maps
Folksonomies: geometry models maps
  1  notes

Because the Earth is a sphere and maps are flat, the fastest route between two points on a map is actually a curved line and airlines take this into account when plotting flight paths.