"My brother is too kind. He was eminent when my eminence was only imminent." -Niles Crane
Question #83118 posted on 09/25/2015 4:23 p.m.

Dear yayfulness,

Could you please update your answer to Board Question #70656 to include the temples announced since then, especially the temple in Bangkok, Thailand?

-map fan


Dear reader,

I have been waiting for this question for a long time.

For those who don't feel like clicking on a link, the question I'm re-answering asks what permanently inhabited point is furthest from an LDS temple. It took more work than I've ever put into any other answer, and it's also the only answer I've ever made in the form of a video. You should all go watch it.

Thankfully, I still had all the data from the previous question, so it was a simple matter to plug in a few new numbers and get the resulting map. This time, rather than using a digital globe, I went the traditional route and made a two-dimensional map. The downside is that there's some inevitable distortion, but the upside is that it's a lot easier to view.

Here's the result, using buffers of 200, 500, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000, and 3500 miles:

last temples project - Copy.jpg

(Click here to download a larger zoomable version.)

If you compare this to the old version, you'll notice that by far the biggest change is in the Indian Ocean, thanks to the presence of the Bangkok Thailand Temple. Before that temple's announcement, there was a significant pocket southwest of India that was over 3,000 miles from the nearest temple. Now, that pocket has been reduced to an incredibly small blue blip just off the coast of Somalia. The Maldives, formerly the furthest inhabited place from a temple, are now mostly enclosed in the 2,500-mile buffer. The new winner is Socotra, which falls just to the west of the blue blip. The island is a possession of Yemen and has a population of around 44,000. The nearest wards or branches are around a thousand miles away in Ethiopia and the UAE, so I seriously doubt that anyone on the island is LDS.

Looking at this map, you can also see the distortion caused by projecting the three-dimensional globe onto a two-dimensional map. Each of the buffers, if placed on the globe, would be a perfect circle. However, as buffers approach the poles, you can see that they become elongated. The distance between buffer rings (500 miles, except for the innermost buffer) also appears to be larger near the poles, even though it is still the same distance on the globe.

I also redid the Thiessen polygon map:

last temples project part 2 - Copy.jpg

(Click here to download the larger version.)

For those who didn't watch the video, Thiessen polygons consist of lines drawn through the halfway point between each pair of dots on the map. The polygon around each point encloses the area that is closer to that point than to any other point. Unfortunately, they do not work as well on a global scale, so you'll see a few glitches, particularly around the vertical lines on the left and right ends of the map. It also appears that they aren't fully accounting for the curvature of the Earth; at this scale, the lines should be arcs.

This map more or less speaks for itself, but I do want to highlight the huge geographical area that will be served by the temple in Bangkok. Ever since I first looked at a map of worldwide temples in 2009 and compared it to membership numbers, I've been waiting for that temple's announcement. It's good to see that such a huge need has finally been filled.

So there you have it! I hope this was as fun for you to read as it was for me to write.