New Horizons

So this is generally a more serious post than usual for a Friday. Because, it is about New Horizons, the probe we launched almost a decade ago to explore Pluto, which at that point was still technically a planet. Anyway, the Washington Post has a nice illustration detailing the various sensors and orbits and trajectories. But what gets it a Friday post? Its sense of scale.

You always need a sense of scale
You always need a sense of scale

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson.

The Curviest Tracks on the Northeast Corridor

If you remember a little while back, Amtrak No. 188 derailed in North Philadelphia at Frankford Junction. I covered it here and here. Well, the New York Times has analysed the Northeast Corridor to identify the curviest segments of track, excluding entrances and exits from stations. Perhaps as no surprise, Frankford Junction is right among the top segments.

Tracks north of Centre City Philadelphia
Tracks north of Centre City Philadelphia

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.

Aircraft Cabin Flow

Today’s post looks at an illustration from the BBC about aircraft cabin flow. As I have flown on four aircraft in the last month—quite a lot for me—I do recall thinking during one particular flight just where the air intakes were on the aircraft. It never dawned on me that they were in the actual engines themselves.

Air flow diagram for an aircraft
Air flow diagram for an aircraft

I think from a design side the only thing I would change is the width of the line for the airflow. That would show how while some is released, replacement air comes from the air mixing unit.

Credit for the piece goes to the BBC graphics department.

Illustrating a Table

Let’s face it, lots of people think tables are boring. They convey data very quickly and very efficiently. But they often don’t look “pretty” enough. So, today, I just wanted to show a table from the Washington Post from last week.

A table on green car options. It has green illustrations. Get it?
A table on green car options. It has green illustrations. Get it?

It does nothing fancy. Nor do the illustrations actually communicate the information more quickly or more clearly. But, look! Green clocks and charging stations!

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

Others’ Coverage of Amtrak 188

Tuesday I posted my late-night work on Amtrak No. 188’s derailment, (now with a few minor updates, including the speed information released this afternoon) so you could all get a sense of what happened yesterday. Of course, in the last 24 hours, we have seen a lot of news outlets covering the story.

The New York Times has a nice piece mapping out the details of the accident. Of particular interest, they included a map showing the parts of the Northeast Corridor equipped with positive train control. That is a system designed to prevent trains from exceeding their speed limits.

Positive train control implemented on the Northeast Corridor
Positive train control implemented on the Northeast Corridor

The Washington Post has two nice pieces. The first, below, incorporates both illustration to simplify the wreck site for the audience and then photographs to provide context of just how destroyed some of the train cars are, the first in particular.

Using both illustrations and photographs
Using both illustrations and photographs

The Post, however, also has a supplemental piece that looks at Amtrak’s accidents over the last ten years. This is the most data-centric piece of all that we are looking at, but that is okay. Most of the story is not reliant on data, but rather illustrations and diagrams trying to piece everything together.

Comparison of derailments vs. vehicle collisions
Comparison of derailments vs. vehicle collisions

Lastly, the BBC has an article with several small graphics looking at US train risks. Spoiler, American trains, while safe, are far less safe than those in Europe and Asia. Here, though, the map looks at accidents along the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak accidents
Amtrak accidents

Credit for the New York Times piece goes to Gregor Aisch, Larry Buchanan, Bill Marsh, Haeyoun Park, Sergio Peçanha, Julie Shaver, Joe Ward, and Karen Yourish.

Credit for the Washington Post piece on the derailment goes to Bonnie Berkowitz, Patterson Clark, Alberto Cuadra, Todd Lindeman, Denise Lu, Katie Park, and Gene Thorp.

Credit for the Washington Post piece on Amtrak accidents goes to Dan Keating and Lazaro Gamio.

The Coal Century

The other day I misread a poster on the road that “The Cool Century” for “The Coal Century”. That is the origin of today’s title. The origin of today’s piece, however, is Bloomberg, which looked at the impact of some new environmental regulations on the coal industry vis-a-vis dozens of coal power plants.

Coal plants
Coal plants

Basically, you have a map with plant size indicated by the dot size, and the type of plant by the colour of the dot. The line chart to the right shows total coal capacity. Overall, it’s a nice, clear, concise graphic. Two buttons give the user immediate access to the story: the pre-regulated environment—see what I did there?—and then then post-regulated one.

Credit for the piece goes to Eric Roston and Blacki Migliozzi.

The Internet in the Middle East and Arab World

Keeping with the unplanned theme of this week, i.e. things going on in the Middle East and Arab world, let’s take a look at another piece of work from Spiegel. Unfortunately, this one is not so much in English. The graphics, yes, the supporting context, no.

There are seven of them, this looks at what the designers termed Halal Internet. It looks delicious.

Iranian website access
Iranian website access

And while this looks delicious, it’s white chocolate, unfortunately. But change that bit, and I would be okay eating it.

Facebook usage
Facebook usage

Check out the article for the rest.

Credit for the piece goes to Klaas Glenewinkel and Jess Smee.

S-300 Surface-to-Air Missiles for Iran

Russia has agreed to complete its years-old sale of advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran. What does this mean? Well, it does not make Iran’s airspace invulnerable, but it will be a significant upgrade with the potential to deter Israel from launching an air raid against Iranian nuclear sites. In a nice, illustrated piece the Washington Post explains what the S-300 system is.

S-300 SAM system
S-300 SAM system

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

The Disappearing Polish S

Today’s piece is not a chart, nor is it some complicated piece of data visualisation. Instead, we are looking at a piece from Medium that attempts to explain the disappearing Polish S. Basically, it is a roundabout way of saying that it is very difficult to type in foreign languages on American keyboards because of the additional letters and/or diacritics. If you are at all interested in typography, the article makes nice use of comparative photographs and highlighted colours in the alphabet to illustrate its case.

English vs. Polish alphabets
English vs. Polish alphabets

Credit for the piece goes to Marcin Wichary.

Where to Catch Foul Balls

As we established yesterday, baseball is rumbling back to life with Spring Training. That means it is time to start buying tickets for games. But if, like me, you have never caught a foul ball or home run, you may want to sit in a location where you can optimise your chances. Where is that? Well, now we have an app for that, Ideal Seat, as covered by Time. It uses interactive maps of stadiums and data on where hit balls land to generate an average number of balls per game—an average of about 30 foul balls per game.

Safeco Field as a sample
Safeco Field as a sample

Credit for the piece goes to Ideal Seat.