One of the most important maps in human history was not created by a professional cartographer or navigator. It was made in 1854 by a London physician named John Snow, who suspected that the cholera outbreak in London’s Soho neighborhood, which killed 616 people, was spread through water, not air. At that time, the dominant—and incorrect—miasma theory of disease held that germs spread through bad odors, and some doctors even believed that the smell of certain foods could cause obesity....

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