By Ben Kupiszewski
For the population center of the United States, the point at which you could stick a finger under a map and the weight of the country’s entire population would perfectly balance, the Census Bureau would point to Plato, a small town in Texas County, Missouri. Michigan’s Grand Valley State University mathematics professors Edward Aboufadel and David Austin say otherwise. Still in Missouri but 120 miles north of Plato, less-than-eighty-person Tebbetts steals the honor, the two contend. The discrepancy comes from the types of maps used to determine the population center. The Census Bureau used a flat map but the professors used a three-dimensional one. “People were not being weighted evenly,” Edward says. “We thought we could do it better.”
This story originally ran in the February 2013 issue of Missouri Life. For more stories like this, subscribe to Missouri Life.