Science is great. But science is also a process and scientific progress goes boink. Some of the mis-steps in chemistry have been erroneous elements. Thankfully the Boston Globe built a small periodic table of non-elements with short anecdotes about the selected few.
Table of non-elements
Credit for the piece goes to Mary Virginia Orna and Marco Fontani.
I apologise for the lack of posts over the last two weeks, but I was on holiday. Naturally, I have returned just in time for some snowstorms in the Midwest. But today’s piece comes from WGN and it explains how the type of winter precipitation that falls depends not solely on ground temperatures. Rather, temperature profiles in the upper atmosphere can make all the difference between rain, sleet, and snow.
How temperatures create different precipitation types
Credit for the piece goes to Steve Kahn and Jennifer Kohnke.
We hear a lot about deforestation around the world. But, in this piece from the Washington Post, we see how over the last century, Europe has actually managed to reverse that trend and reforest parts of the continent.
At the time of writing, Orion has yet to launch. But by the time this is published, Orion—NASA’s successor to the space shuttle—will hopefully be at or near the greatest distance from Earth achieved by a spacecraft since the Apollo programme. The Houston Chronicle illustrated the different stages of the unmanned test flight. Hopefully in several years when the programme has its manned flight this blog will still be here and somebody out there will similarly illustrate that mission.
What is out there beyond our solar system? Are there little green men in flying saucers? Or Klingons waging war? The first step in figuring that out is knowing how many planets can be inhabited by life as we know it. This interactive graphic from National Geographic explores just that. And as it turns out, most of the exoplanets we have discovered are not habitable. But a few offer promise. If only we could warp on over and properly explore them.
Credit for the piece goes to John Tomanio and Xaquín G.V.
As the title says, we are all going to die one of these days. But what are the odds that Ebola will kill you? Turns out it is fairly small. Smaller than your pyjamas catching on fire and killing you. Or even your regular clothes catching fire. How did I know that? Well, the Washington Post put together a nice interactive piece to do just that. It starts you out at Ebola and works up to the most likely causes of death. If you are looking for your morning pick-me-up, this might not be it. Fair warning.
Small chance Ebola will kill you
Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson and Lazaro Gamio.
In a few hours—not long after this blog post is published—we should know whether or not the washing-maching sized probe Philae has successfully landed on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The operation is very complicated, this is a moving and spinning comet with a boulder-strewn surface dotted with ice spires. And as of a few hours the lander was having problems with the gas thrusters designed to slow the lander to a hover above the comet surface. Space is hard. So to explain what is happening and the scale of the things involved, we have an illustration from the Washington Post.
How big is the comet?
Credit for the piece goes to Bonnie Berkowitz, Patterson Clark, and Richard Johnson.
National Geographic recently published a piece designed and built for them by Fathom Information Group. Content-wise, they looked at the historic consumption of food by several different countries. What do individual food groups contribute to the overall nutritional breakdown? For the piece this basically amounted to morphing donut charts. I get the reference, but do not care for the result.
Instead more interesting is the second main view of the piece: meat consumption. Using stacked line charts, National Geographic explores changes in consumption patterns over the last 50 years. Some countries change a bit, others not so much. But as always the best examples are called out with an explanation as to why the changes. Mexico, for example, has the story about slashes in government subsidies and economic problems as to a decline in pork consumption.
Mexican pork consumption
Clearly I still have issues with the data visualisation. I would much rather see the selected view isolate the selection off the common baseline. But a nice touch is the small multiples from the country selection mechanism appearing to the right.
Credit for the piece goes to Fathom Information Design.
This weekend the Wall Street Journal published an article that combined my interest in data visualisation with my interest in naval ships. The article looks at the growth of the Chinese nuclear submarine programme. And alongside the article are maps, charts, illustrations, and a narrated video that support the written word.
Choke points for the Chinese navy
Credit for the piece goes to Alberto Cervantes and the Wall Street Journal’s graphics department.
To continue with this week’s theme of Ebola, we are looking at another Washington Post article. Online the Post presents it as an interactive, guided explanation of how Ebola basically kills people. Spoiler, it is not pretty. But what I do really like about this online presentation is how the Post has a downloadable .pdf version of the piece available.
How Ebola works
Credit for the piece goes to Patterson Clark, Darla Cameron, and Sohail Al-Jamea.