"A geographic map of the continental United States shows a patchwork of states of varying sizes and shapes. Creating a new map in which the area of each state is proportional to its population requires enlarging densely populated states and shrinking sparsely populated ones. On such a map, populous New Jersey would loom large despite its relatively small area and vast Wyoming would turn tiny."
Now, two researchers have "turned to the physics of diffusion to develop a new, speedy technique for generating cartograms by computer."
"Newman and Gastner have tried out their diffusion method on population data from the 2000 U.S. census. To demonstrate the technique's effectiveness and versatility, they created cartograms displaying the results of the U.S. presidential election of 2000, lung cancer rates among males in the state of New York, and the distribution of wire service news stories by state."
Thanks to Chris Steins