Profile: John Hessler

Cartography Specialist

John W. Hessler, is a Specialist in Modern Cartography and Geographic Information Science and Curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology of the Early Americas, at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. His main research interest focuses on the mereotoplogical foundations of GIS and mathematics of spatial computing. He is the founder of The Scaling Lab, a geographical and mathematical collective that uses the theory of complex networks to study geographical and network phenomenon, and he has written extensively on cartographic design and the foundations of GIS. He is the author over one-hundred articles and books including, The Naming of America: Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 World Map and the Cosmographiae Introductio; A Renaissance Globemaker’s Toolbox: Johannes Schöner and the Revolution of Modern Science, 1475-1550; Thoreau on Cape Cod: his journeys and his lost maps; Seeing the World Anew: the radical vision of Martin Waldseemuller’s 1507 and 1516 World Maps; Galileo’s Starry Messenger; Columbus’ Book of Privileges, 1502: the Claiming of a New World and is the senior editor of MAP: Exploring the World, recently published by Phaidon. Much of his past research had concentrated on the computer modeling and mathematical analysis of Roman, medieval and early Renaissance cartography, where he has developed new techniques for historical map geo-rectification and statistical shape analysis. His mathematical and computational studies of early mapmaking have been featured in numerous national media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post and most recently in Discover Magazine (June 2014). He is currently at work on a new translation and critical edition of Carl Friedrich Gauss' Disquisitiones Generales Circa Superficies Curvas from 1828.

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NoteStreams By John Hessler

Einstein at 100: Mapping the Universe

November 25th, 2015, marks one hundred years since Albert Einstein delivered his now infamous address to the Prussian Academy of Sciences, during which he laid out the series of equations which lie at the heart of his General Theory of Relativity.

Category: History

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Our Next Generation

Who are the next generation of cartographers? What draws them to this part science, part artistic expression, part design discipline?

Category: For Teachers

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Mapping Alpinist Elephants

As one of the curators of the largest map library on the planet, there are times when one comes across a map that just strikes you as unique, not only as piece of cartography, but also as a monument to the obsessions of antiquarians of the past, the present, and the future. Several days ago while searching through one of the three footballs fields of storage cabinets that make up the stacks of the Geography and Map Division here at the Library of Congress, I came across a map from 1911, made by the English antiquarian Spenser Wilkinson (1853-1937).

Category: History

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Mr. Dürer Comes to Washington

In the cool summer of 1901, a Jesuit priest named Joseph Fischer was searching through the small libraries found in the country houses and ancient castles of the old noble families that dot the German hinterlands. One day, in the tower of one of those castles, tucked deep into the forest outside the tiny village of Wolfegg, he happened upon a book that would change the history of cartography forever.

Category: History

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