Changing The World??

Gerrard Mercator

Gerrard Mercator

In March 1512, on the plains of Flanders, Belgium, perhaps better known more recently to us as the scene of the tragic battles of the Somme and Passchedale in the Great War of 1914-18, Henrietta and Glibert Kemer were blessed with the birth of their 7th child,a son called Gerrard.

Times were hard for the peasant family, the population was soaring, space and land limited, a new term had emerged to describe their class, ‘Robbotten’ meaning a slave, laborer, a sweat…

a Robot…

Gerrard’s life was by no means easy, he survived wars, famine, plague and at one time imprisonment by the inquisition.

Yet the 16th century is known as ‘the age of discovery’. Gerard grew up with tales of daring voyages to new and abundant lands. The existence of a 4th continent promising riches beyond belief was common knowledge.

The recent invention of the printing press made possible broad sheets. Printed accounts, with woodcut drawings for the illiterate, about voyages of, among others, Christoper Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci.

These broadsheets were circulated along the thriving trade conduits of the rivers in Flanders.Trade and thus information came from all over the known world…

Gerrard had one advantage, an uncle, who secured him a place in one of the world class universities of the region.

Gerrard studied hard and over time became a mathematician, he was also gifted with his hands and developed considerable skills as an engraver and maker of scientific instruments.During this time Gerrard Kemer changed his name to Gerrard Mercator, meaning merchant.

Mercator had one overriding passion…Maps. He measured and produced maps for Landowners , who were interested in recording the exact extent of their properties. Vital for settling disputes and ambiguity over ownership.

His skill was such that, over time, he became well known to the rich and powerful and even became an instrument maker to an emperor…

By accumulating information and piecing together other cartographers maps he started to produce wonderfully detailed globes of the world which were in great demand.
Those areas of the globe that were at the time unexplored and unknown
were filled with intricate and beautiful images of ships, sea monsters, mythical Greek gods and legends.

One space was filled with a legend called Atlas a titan who held up the celestial spheres. Thus Mercator gave the name of Atlas to his books of maps…

However, Map makers of the time were faced with a problem… How to accurately depict a three dimensional object (the Globe of the earth) in 2 dimensions onto a flat printed sheet.

Mercator solved this with a stroke of absolute genius, and produced what is known as the Mercator Projection.

This solution is still used today and is instantly recognizable in the Atlas’s we are all familiar with, but it is not perfect.

In fact it distorts the size of objects considerably as the latitude increases from the equator to the poles.So for example Greenland takes roughly as much space on the map as Africa when in fact Africa is 14 times larger than Greenland.

So what’s all this got to do with business?…

Well the amazing thing is that Mercator never traveled more than a few miles from his birthplace, yet he produced a world changing solution for navigation and exploration that is still in use after 500 years…

Just by collating information from others and applying it in his own unique way.

What can we do to change the world with the information we have in front of us.You don’t have to be a genius like Mercator, for example…

A few years ago I took an established product and production process and applied a different approach and materials to produce an entirely different product that resulted in a patent.

Look at what you have in front of you and ask what can I do to make it unique, viable and profitable…

and it does not have to be perfect…

you don’t have to re-invent the wheel just give it a make over

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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