Indo-European Language Origin

Polonius once asked Hamlet what he was reading. Hamlet replied “Words.”

I still love that scene. But, it turns out that we now have an even better idea of where our words came from. It turns out that it is more likely that our shared Indo-European languages originated not in the steppes of Russia but rather Anatolia in Turkey. The New York Times created a graphic that looked at just how the Indo-European family of languages can be broken out.

Branches of our family tree
Branches of our family tree

 

World Bank—Mobile Phones

A little while ago the World Bank, generally a rich-country club that doles out loans to the developing world, published an infographic looking at mobile phones and their presence in the developing world.

The piece supplemented a report and is rather large. It actually exists as two separate images. The cropping below focuses just on how people in the developing world use mobile phones. Overall the piece is a bit weak in terms of data visualisation types and some of it is a bit confusing, but the story is clearly worth telling. And fortunately there are more hits than misses.

Developing world usage
Developing world usage

 

Drought Footprint

A lot of people’s minds may be on the Olympics that open up today in London. However, a very important story that was covered a little while ago deserves a post.

The United States has been suffering from a severe drought across much of the country. Droughts are nothing new, though climate change is likely to increase their intensity in the coming decades. This means more than lawns with dead grass; it means crop failures. Crop failures mean lack of food for humans and cattle. That means lower supply while demand holds steady. That means increasing prices. That means increasing pressure on already straining household budgets. Ergo, severe droughts can be a big deal.

The New York Times charted the geographic spread of droughts over the past century as small multiples. The print version was different, alas I have no photo, but the online version neatly groups maps by decade. Of some interest is how similar the scale of the 2012 coverage is in relation to that of 1934, the year of the Dust Bowl.

Drought
Drought

Credit for the piece goes to Haeyoun Park and Kevin Quealy

Frack You, Gas Hole.

And not in the polite Galactica way, but more in the let’s drill you, rocks, and split you open. I could go in further detail about the injection of fracking fluids, but let’s leave the double entendre alone and talk about Marcellus Shale. It’s a layer of rocks in the dirt that contain natural gas. It’s a pain in the gas production industry (sorry) and thus is only economically viable when fuel prices are high.

So in the 21st century with high fuel prices, energy companies are hydraulically fracturing (fracking) the rock to suck out all the natural gas. But this might be (probably is) causing environmental problems and thus human health problems. Ergo the controversy. This has now reached New York and so the New York Times created a simple map with some key layers of information to explain the controversy there.

NY Marcellus
NY Marcellus

Note the useful layers of depth of the shale and where those intersect (or do not) with areas that have banned or endorsed fracking.

Western Pennsylvania has had similar problems, and the Philadelphia Inquirer has had an interactive special on their website up for a little while now. And by interactive infographic I mean largely just a play-through of static images. Unfortunately, the online content is not of the best resolution and leaves much to be desired. Fortunately the graphics would appear to be quite informative especially as part of a series. A pity they are not entirely legible.

Location
Location

Credit for the Inquirer piece goes to John Tierno.

God Save the Queen

For the Queen’s Jubilee I had been looking for a good infographic or two about how the United Kingdom had changed over the length of her reign, at least thus far. Alas, I found not a great deal of substantial work. This is an infographic from the Guardian that looks at quite a few single figures.

But it also has a map looking at the decline/unravelling of the British Empire.

Decline of the British Empire
Decline of the British Empire

God Save the Queen.

The Education Gap

Last week, the New York Times looked at the growing education gap amongst this country’s largest metropolitan areas. The infographic, click the image below to go to the full version, is perhaps a bit more layered, nuanced, and complex than it looks at first. In about forty years, the number of adults with college degrees has doubled, good, but so too has the spread of those numbers across the set of cities, bad. And then to look at any geographic spread, the two datasets are mapped geospatially. By my eye, the Northeast and Pacific Northwest seem to be doing fairly well. Not so much around the rest of the country.

The education gap
The education gap

Credit for the piece goes to Haeyoun Park.

New York Times Lies About Science

In a rare infographic misstep, the New York Times published an incorrect diagram detailing the centre of the Earth.

Centre of the Earth
Centre of the Earth

Clearly, anyone who knows anything about science knows that it is not a solid core of iron at the centre of the Earth, but dinosaurs. And I see no dinosaurs in this diagram.

Credit for the piece goes to Jonathan Corum, Ritchie S. King, and Frank O’Connell.

Canada Invades the Land of the Mole People

Subways. Home of the mole people. And in the United States an unwanted recipient of government money to build things. Along with being generally unwanted. By those who do not live in cities. Probably because of said mole people. Or something.

But in Canada, they like subways. At least enough that Toronto is building an extension to a university and from there to a suburb. But the invasion of the mole people homeland is a complex process that, fortunately, the National Post explains in an illustrative infographic, a cropping of which is below.

One of four sibling boring machines: Holey, Moley, Yorkie, and Torkie.
One of four sibling boring machines: Holey, Moley, Yorkie, and Torkie.

Credit for the piece goes to Mike Faille and Peter Kuitenbrouwer.

Nope, It’s Just Clouds in the Shapes of Birds and Planes.

Supporting an article about how the clouds are the last great hope for the climate change skeptics, the New York Times published an interesting infographic that looks at cloud cover and insolation, the amount of solar energy that irradiates the planet.

The main feature is an animation of a year’s worth of cloud cover. The mapped data begins to clearly show the difference between air circulation over the oceans and over land, with the interface between the two creating the rough outlines of the continents.

Cloud map
Cloud map

Supplementing the animation are four small multiples of different measures that look at energy and its conservation across the planet.

Energy maps
Energy maps

Credit for the piece goes to Jonathan Corum.

Exporting the Sun

Plans are afoot to harness the power of the sun in the deserts across northern Africa. The electricity generated in Morocco is planned to turn on light switches in Madrid and throughout the rest of Europe.

The Guardian created a map to show how the solar facilities could be connected to each other and to other renewable power sources in Europe—from Icelandic geothermal plants to North Sea wind turbines to Alpine hydroelectric plants.

Renewable Power Map
Renewable Power Map

Credit for the piece goes to Christine Oliver.