Tag Archives: science

Germanwings Flight 4U 9525

Yesterday an Airbus A320 operated by Germanwings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, crashed in the French Alps with no survivors. This morning, I am showing the two best graphics I have come across thus far attempting to explain just what happened.

The first is from the New York Times. In a series of maps, it points out through satellite photography the roughness of the terrain and therefore the difficulty likely to be experienced by recovery crews. The final line chart plots the altitude of the flight, which fell from a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet to just over 6,000 feet in eight minutes. Overall, especially given the limited amount of information that we currently possess, not a bad piece.

The New York Times' explainer map

The New York Times’ explainer map

The second comes to us from the Washington Post. What I enjoy about this piece is that it combines the altitude chart with the map. This gives a bit context to the fact that despite being still 6,000 feet above sea level, the aircraft was in fact flying into the high mountains of the Alps.

The Washington Post's explainer map

The Washington Post’s explainer map

Credit for the New York Times piece goes to the New York Times graphics department. And credit for the Washington Post piece goes to Gene Thorp and Richard Johnson.

Moon Bases

Today’s post falls somewhere between just for fun and science reality. Remember moon bases? Newt Gingrich’s ridiculed comment about a habitable moon base by 2020? Well, one problem with colonies on other planets—or even interstellar transport for that matter—is radiation. The moon has no magnetosphere and no atmosphere. So it can be bombarded by both radiation and meteorites.

But, now we have lava tubes. Well, in theory at least. Scientists have run the numbers and found that if lava tubes exist on Mars, they would be structurally sound to support colonies within lava tubes. And that brings us to the raison d’etre of today’s post: the diagram used to explain that science.

I present you all with your hypothetical moon base: New Philadelphia.

New Philadelphia looks just like today's Philadelphia

New Philadelphia looks just like today’s Philadelphia

Credit for the piece goes to David Blair.

The UK’s Genetic Clusters

I always enjoy the combination of two of my interests: data visualisation and genealogy. So this BBC article that references a Nature article piqued my interest. It looks at the distribution of DNA across the United Kingdom and identifies different cluster areas. The most important finding is that the Celts, i.e. the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Cornwall are not a single genetic group. Another finding of interest to me is that the people of Devon are distinct from both Cornwall and Dorset, Devon’s bordering regions. That interest is because my New England ancestors largely hailed from Devon and Dorset.

The colours don't imply relationships, for what it's worth

The colours don’t imply relationships, for what it’s worth

Credit for the piece goes to the Nature article authors.

Chipotle and Calories

In my office, Chipotle is a popular fast-casual lunch choice. I am not sure, however, whether people would want to see today’s piece, an article from the New York Times about the nutritional value of a Chipotle meal. The piece makes good use of a few bar charts and nice photographs and table to explain how calorific a burrito there can be. Maybe I should be having a salad for lunch today…

Chipotle calories

Chipotle calories

Credit for the piece goes to Kevin Quealy, Amanda Cox, and Josh Katz.

Understanding Genealogy

I came upon this piece a little while ago and realised that it in some ways paralleled my own interest in genealogy. Basically the story comes down to realising that you probably only know a mere fraction of the stories behind all the people who led up to you. To put in another context: “you’re the product of 127 romances, just in the last 200 years alone”. Anyway, the article is a nice read and explains the math with illustrations.

How the story starts

How the story starts

Credit for the piece goes to Tim Urban.

The Measles Outbreak

People, science is your friend. Vaccinations are not only for the benefit of yourself, but for others. Anyway, let us take a look at the measles outbreak through some graphics produced by the New York Times. It started in Disneyland. Because we had eliminated the disease about 15 years ago. Science, people.

Where the outbreak had spread as of 6 February

Where the outbreak had spread as of 6 February

Credit for the piece goes to Jonathan Corum, Josh Keller, Haeyoun Park, and Archie Tse.

Masses and Payloads

While last week ended with an xkcd post, I want to start this week with an older one I missed about spacecraft. Because spacecraft are awesome every day of the week. In particular it looks at mass and payload capacity of spacecraft and rockets over time.

The space shuttle was big

The space shuttle was big

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

Hudson River Tunnels

Readers of this blog know that I am a fan of rail travel. And in particular, how the rail system on the East Coast is brilliant when compared to anywhere else in the States. Unfortunately, the railway system on the East Coast is also old and in need of serious capital investment. The tunnels linking New York and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River are a prime example. But a few years ago, Governor Christie of New Jersey killed Amtrak’s plans to build new tunnels to provide a backup to the existing infrastructure and increase overall capacity. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at Amtrak’s new plan to cross the Hudson. Let’s hope this venture is a bit more successful.

The new project

The new project

Credit for the piece goes to the Wall Street Journal graphics department.

The 2014/5 Ebola Outbreak in Context

Spoiler alert, it’s big. Thankfully Scientific American has attempted to put the West African outbreak in the context of all other Ebola outbreaks. I think the one thing missing, rather the one thing I would have done differently, is to include some kind of background element to show the difference in scale. A giant circle behind the whole graphic. Or a giant diamond. Of course the designer may not have had the space to do that, because the scale difference is just that extreme.

Putting the ongoing outbreak in context

Putting the ongoing outbreak in context

Credit for the piece goes to Pitch Interactive for Scientific American.

Periodic Table of Non-elements

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

Table of non-elements

Credit for the piece goes to Mary Virginia Orna and Marco Fontani.