The news that NASA discovered a new type of microorganism has overshadowed new findings on Pluto. The Christian Science Monitor presents both sides of the debate, “Should Pluto be Restored as a Planet?” According to Mike Wall from Space.com, Pluto was found to be slightly larger than Eris, the entity that supplanted it, re-opening the debate if it should be restored as a full-fledged planet. Discovery News details the method used to compare the size of Eris and Pluto. In several articles Mike Brown, who discovered Eris and wrote the appropriately titled book, “How I Killed Pluto and Why it Had it Coming” states that the most important part of the discovery isn’t about size but the fact that Eris is much denser than Pluto and thus a totally different composition and origin. In his posts on Mike Brown’s Planets he describes the Skymapper project to survey the whole southern skies by Australian National University.
There are some cool GEOGRAPHY gifts like map jigsaw puzzles, cool Harry Potter marauder map pillows, or antique maps and reproductions. Then there are some gifts that scream, YOU like geography. Here’s a globe!, like an etched glass globe fish bowl, Earth globes, and even snow globes. However, if you are looking for a less geograph-y geography gift there are some good books written by geographers such as one of my favorite fantasy books, Across the Face of the World , or kid’s books like The Lighthouse of Mr. Tinfish, or even cookbooks like The Art of Scottish-American Cooking. They bring the expertise and enjoyment of geo-spatial concepts without the word geography in the title.
I think the sneakiest geography gift of all is one that can’t be wrapped in a box -travel. It doesn’t have to be Disney’s It’s a Small World exhibit but a geographic destination. National Geographic has a list of top ten places to visit far away and probably close to home. According to The Happiness Project memories of special locations make people happy like visiting grandparents, a hometown, or other special place. If you can’t go to a special place, why not bring it closer to home by subscribing to a hometown paper, or some virtual armchair traveling.
Map making used to be an arduous, time-consuming, and often dangerous process. Although modern map-making is often still an arduous, time-consuming, and in some instances, dangerous process, new technologies are continually invented that make it easier. Modern Mechanix from July 1946 features a Coe-graph invented by Australian Lt. Col. H. J. F. Coe. It is a calibrated ground wheel attached to a paper roller and pencil. The design is still around in the form of digital rolling measurement wheels. It made me think of how technology and tools often remain the same, even when alternative technologies are available. A 2004 ESRI presentation by GeoSpatial Innovations compared the use of GPS versus measurement wheels for rural line design. A Civil Engineering Group posted a recent article on all of the methods for measuring area of land and a brief history of technology including GPS, measurement wheels, planimeters, and graph paper.
Fifty million people are expected to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tomorrow. If you can’t be there in person, you can join the on-line Thanksgiving Day Parade community and experience the parade route through the Macy’s website. I have fond memories of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade route. Digg, of course, has already posted a Product Reviews Google Earth Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route. However, I really like all of the walks included in the “Walk the Big Apple” site including their Autumn walks for the unofficial parade route and the ” An Advanced Self-Guided Walk into the New York Holiday Vortex“. At Daggle, Danny Sullivan has updated his article on how to watch the parade from outside the United States. He says your best bet is Earthcam’s live streaming broadcast,which gives you a “feel” for what is happening. If you are wondering how the parade and other huge crowd events are handled each year, ESRI has an article on how the FDNY GIS Unit get organized before events such as parades. New York City also has a Thanksgiving Day Task Force which among it many duties, “Developed a wind testing system that provides wind speed measurements from anemometers at key points along the parade route and transmits the information to balloon operators who adjust the flight heights of their balloons accordingly.”
The Oxford Dictionary is launching a campaign to save words that are being dropped from the English Language. According to their website, 90% of everything we write is communicated by a 7,000 word vocabulary. The Save The Words website, which allows you to “adopt” a word and keep it in use, has a hodge-podge collage of words to choose from many of them geography or location related. I located bimarian (relating to two seas), poliadic (of the nature of a local god), telligraph (charter outlining boundaries of landholdings),montivagant (wandering hills and mountains), cosmogyral (whirling round the universe), and ruricolous (living in the country or field). It an be argued that some words are just not used as often, such as ten-cent store, but it seems sad to lose them. The British Council asked “7,000 learners in 46 countries what they considered to be the most beautiful words in the English language.” The top five words were Mother, Passion, Smile, Love, and Eternity. I haven’t chosen the word I want to save yet, but I will in order to demonstrate my sodalitious (adj. belonging to society or fellowship) nature. (Wait — spell check don’t change it to seditious nature that isn’t what I meant.)
One of my favorite geography related songs is “Yakko’s World” from the Animaniacs Cartoon Series. When I went to find they lyrics recently, I was surprised to find that there was a Facebook page devoted to “I know all the lyrics to Yakko’s World” and a spirited debate about the countries referenced in the song. Obviously, song is a time-honored way to learn countries, planets, presidents, and even U.S. States. Erik Ribak is the goldmine of geography related songs up until 2009. National Geographic Xpeditions has a wonderful “geography and history through music” lesson plan. NatGeo Music also has an “aural tour” of the world through music which is frequently updated.
The Guardian UK interviews volunteers and family members who have used an digital library of war graves around the world in their article, “How to visit a virtual grave: A digital photography project allows families to see the final resting place of relatives who died in battle for the first time.” The War Graves Photographic Project (TWGPP), is an online “library” of war grave photos documented by volunteers worldwide. The mission of The War Graves Photographic Project is to photograph every war grave, individual memorial, MoD grave, and family memorial of serving military personnel to the present day and make these available within a searchable database. They accept images from anywhere in the world where military personnel were based or conflicts occurred. Other on-line war data searches include the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall website and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Many countries have online databases of war memorials including the U.K. National Inventory, which includes all memorials including bus shelters, sundials, park benches; Queensland War Memorial Directory, Australian War Memorial Directory including war diaries; and Canada’s Virtual War Memorial Directory.
If Sherlock Holmes was alive today, like he is in the modern day Sherlock TV Show, he would use geospatial technologies and extensive closed circuit camera systems (CCTV) to solve crime. This isn’t purely speculation, because as co-creator of the tv series Steve Moffat points out, Sherlock Holmes was a modern detective during his time. In today’s world, law enforcement face cuts and are looking for solutions such as London’s Metropolitan Police Service using special or volunteer constables to cut costs. It provides hands-on training for volunteers who might later decide to pursue it full time. The London Metropolitan Police Department or “Scotland Yard” invented the crime analysis pin map in the 1820’s and continue to utilize the most updated GIS technologies. Internet Eyes is a controversial effort to allow the public to “to monitor live CCTV feed from our Business Customers, and notify them the instant a crime is observed” for a reward. It’s not difficult to imagine Sherlock Holmes using modern day geospatial technologies to solve crimes. As Holmes cried in the Adventure of the Copper Beeches, “Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.” — a true geospatial analyst at heart.
If you are tuning in tonight to watch The Great Migrations series, National Geographics’ largest programming event, you might want to watch the “Making National Geographic’s Great Migrations” on NatGeo News which discusses the five years and hundreds of people involved in its production or check out the educators’s resources. National Geographic also offers a demo of their Great Migrations Game to try out. The series itself is possible due to one of the first remote animal tracking technologies created by Rory P. Wilson, a biologist at Swansea University and chief scientific advisor on the film, while working on his dissertation on penguins in South Africa.
Although this post is a little late for Halloween, I’d like to think of it as a project to start now for next October. Ray Keim of Paper Model Purgatory at Haunted Dimensions creates printable 3D papercraft models of spooky buildings he has crafted including New Orleans Square and the Bates House. If you are more inclined to ghostly gingerbread houses, he has plans for those too. He states that “I created these models for entertainment purposes only. They represent months of work, taking hundreds of hours to design.
I am now offering them for free to any mansion fan who would like them, as a token of appreciation for all the phenomenal support I have received since starting this site, and also in the hopes that it will encourage others to share their art and ideas freely online.” There is an interesting panel with Ray Keim so, “You want to be a theme park designer” from Inside the Magic. It illustrates huge scope for 2D and 3D visualization as a career and a hobby.