Tag Archives: science

Types of Nuclear Weapons

When I was in high school I began to listen to music. To find music. To find artists. A guy who owned and operated the store next to where I worked recommended David Bowie, that guy whose songs I had heard on Philly’s classic rock radio stations. Back in those days we still had record stores—not that I knew what a record was—and I found a few used CDs—now that kids today would know what a CD is. Over that summer, I picked up a lot of new music. But what struck me about this David Bowie guy is that Space Oddity, Tonight, and Heathen all sounded so different from each other. He was a great one. And while I’m certain there will be some graphic in the future about his timeline—how can there not—today I am going to follow up once more on the North Korean nuclear test after coming across this graphic from Reuters.

You will recall how last week I looked at a New York Times post that explained the differences between a few different types of nuclear weapons. Well, here Reuters illustrates those differences.

Types of nuclear weapons

Types of nuclear weapons

Credit for the piece goes to S. Scarr.

Did North Korea Test a Hydrogen Bomb?

Yesterday we looked at the sites and timeline of nuclear weapons tests. Today, however, as we learn more about North Korea’s hydrogen bomb test, some are wondering whether it really was a hydrogen bomb or something else. After all, there are different ways to build the bomb. Some suggest North Korea tested an atom bomb on steroids, more properly called boosted fission. Anyway, the New York Times does a nice job explaining the differences between the atom bomb, the hydrogen bomb, and how we can infer what North Korea tested from the calculated size of the blast.

Inside the hydrogen bomb

Inside the hydrogen bomb

Credit for the piece goes to Josh Keller, Ford Fessenden, and Tim Wallace.

Climate Change in Charts

So yesterday we reimagined a less-than-stellar BBC chart. Today, we look at a good chart from the BBC about climate change, timed to coincide with the start of the Paris climate talks. This comes from an article with six charts related to climate change, but it is the best in my mind.

The trend…not so good.

The trend…not so good.

Nothing but nice design here with the use of colour to highlight the top ten hottest and coldest years over the last 225+ years. But it really comes alive when animated and tells the story how those coldest years occurred at the beginning of the set and the hottest are among the most recent years.

Credit for the piece goes to Emily Maguire,  Tom Nurse, Steven Connor, and Punit Shah.

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

Last night we experienced a total lunar eclipse here in Chicago. Unfortunately, significant cloud cover meant that much of the event went unseen. That was unfortunate, because eclipses are fantastic. To explain it we have this piece from the BBC.

What is a lunar eclipse

What is a lunar eclipse

And for those were either unable to see it or did not know about it, here is one of the photos I took.

During the eclipse

During the eclipse

Credit for the diagram goes to the BBC graphics department.

Credit for the photo is mine.

Your State’s Power Sources

By now you should all know that I am a sucker for small multiples. They are a great way of separating out noise and letting each object be seen for its own. You should also know that I am a sucker for things industrial, e.g. nuclear power. So when you put the two together like NPR did earlier this month, well, I am going to be a huge fan.

All 50 states

All 50 states

Credit for the piece goes to Alyson Hurt.

Kepler 452b

So this is sort of a recycled post, in the sense that I talked about it back in April of 2013. But it’s worth revisiting in light of last month’s announcement of Kepler 452b. For those unaware, the planet is a little bit larger than Earth, but is believed to be a potentially rocky planet like Earth that orbits a star very similar to our Sun in a very similar orbit.

Kepler 452b

Kepler 452b

Credit for the piece still goes to Jonathan Corum.

Your Average Daily Sunshine

(Hint, it’s not me.)

I was talking with someone the other day about how I dislike warm weather. Give me nice, cool, crisp weather any day of the week. And also how I am okay without sunshine—a cool, misty, grey day is lovely. Much of weather, of course, is determined by sunlight, energy, hitting the Earth. Well, just a few weeks ago the Washington Post published a piece looking at daily sunlight. At the end of the piece it has a nice small multiple graphic too.

Average daily sunlight

Average daily sunlight

Credit for the piece goes to the Washington Post graphics department.

Water Level on Lake Michigan

Today’s a little piece for those of you who follow me from the Chicago area. It turns out that in the last 30 months, the water level of Lake Michigan has risen three feet. Despite what some people think, Lake Michigan is not an ocean—I have overheard conversations in my neighbourhood about people who went “swimming in the ocean today” and want to show them a map that points out the Atlantic is almost a thousand miles away—and is not under the same threat as the coast via melting icecaps. The Great Lakes are instead impacted by other regional and cyclical patterns, e.g. El Niño. This article by the Chicago Tribune makes use of this small but clear line chart in its discussion of those very factors.

Water levels for Lakes Michigan and Huron

Water levels for Lakes Michigan and Huron

Credit for the piece goes to the Chicago Tribune’s graphics department.

How We’re Talking to New Horizons

So New Horizons is long since gone from Pluto. But it will still take 16 months to send back all the photographs and science. Why so long? Because so far away. 3 billion miles away. Put another way, light from the sun takes eight minutes to reach Earth as it travels at, well, the speed of light. Radio signals that travel at the speed of light take 4.5 hours to reach Earth from Pluto. So imagine trying to send large data files that far away at a download speed less than that of a 56k modem, for those of you old enough to remember such a thing.

But what receives these radio signals? NASA’s Deep Space Network of antennae that allow NASA to communicate with spacecraft and such things that are in, wait for it, deep space. These antennae are scattered throughout the world, but in this screenshot taken Monday, you can see just what the antennae at the various complexes are doing. Here, we see New Horizons (NHPC) just prior to its flypast communicating with the large antenna at the Madrid complex. The lack of signal lines indicates that it is preparing to setup, takedown, or is tracking the spacecraft.

From early Monday night

From early Monday night

As a fun aside, I left the tab open in the browser and a few hours later came back to find the Deep Space Network sending signals to the Mars rover Opportunity (MER1), the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (CHDR), and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) amongst others.

Opportunity is still chugging along on Mars

Opportunity is still chugging along on Mars

Credit for the piece goes to the NASA graphics department.

Your Guide to the Solar System

As New Horizons will soon begin sending back photographs of Pluto, Charon, and the other moons, I figured it would be a good to share a Wall Street Journal piece that looks at the other photographed bodies of the system.

Field Guide to the Solar System

Field Guide to the Solar System

Credit for the piece goes to Jon Keegan, Chris Canipe, and Alberto Cervantes.