The Mystery of Extraordinarily Accurate Medieval Maps | Discover Magazine
From Butterflies to Maps
Hessler’s path to mathematical cartography began with butterflies. A frustrated chemical engineer and a passionate amateur lepidopterist, he decided in 2000 to take a one-year contract job in the French Alps, studying the evolutionary relationships among the many butterfly species endemic to the region. He learned to use mapping software to track different butterflies’ geographic locations and deployed a technique called morphometrics to assess the relationships between the precise placement of the spots on their wings.