A VerySpatial Podcast
Shownotes – Episode 286
January 9, 2011
Main Topic: Our conversation with author Lesley Downie
Click for the detailed shownotes
In about a month, the US Census Bureau will be releasing the 2010 Census data to states so that they can begin the process of redistricting for the House of Representatives, as well as state legislatures that use those boundaries for election districts. This process happens every ten years, and is a vital part of the process of governing here in the US. Redistricting is also an incredibly controversial political process, as political parties and other groups at all levels of government have a keen interest in how groups of voters are aggregated into districts. In the past, redistricting has often led to conflicts and lawsuits, as those with the power to make the redistricting maps can translate that power into electoral victories. Many people are at least familiar with the notion of gerrymandering, which is a term that dates back to the early 19th century, and refers to the deliberate drawing of electoral boundaries to try to increase a candidate’s or party’s chances of winning an election. There is even a new documentary film coming out called Gerrymandering, which is an in-depth look at mapping electoral districts and its impact on recent elections.
While searching to find out how closely Bones TV show 3D rendering is to real life forensics, I ran across the history of Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death models which are housed at the Maryland Medical Examiner‘s Office in Baltimore, MD. From the amount of documentaries, stories, articles, and books, as well as the number of fields she touched (medicine,law, law enforcement, education…)I couldn’t believe I had never heard of her before.
Frances Glessner Lee, an International Harvester Co. heiress in the 1940’s is often called the “mother of modern forensic science” because of her dedication and support of legal medical studies and her construction of miniatures to teach inexperiences law enforcement about crime scenes. A 1949 Coronet article from Sameshield.com explains her contributions at a time when her techniques were the height of forensic technology. Frances Lee still contributes to modern forensics modeling through the Harvard Associates in Police Science, Inc. which she founded in 1945.
And back to Bones and modern day modeling… I found lots of exciting and surprisingly reasonably priced geospatial tools for forensics like PhotoModeler photogrammetry software that replaces time consuming surveyor measurements. Modern technologies aren’t the magic geospatial modeling bullet viewers expect from TV but I think Frances Lee would approve.
A little movie with our holidays wishes to all our listeners and readers out there….
By now, almost everyone has seen the cool You Tube video of the Japanese students fake skydiving using a projector and Google Earth. However, all the posts and comments focus on the skydiving part and how realistic, non-realistic, or just plain awesome it is. When I watched it my first thought was, “that is a really cool way to build a cheap, portable virtual environment.” The closest approximation I could find to what they did are electronic art canvases which cost about $3,000. They are used at the really cool Collaborative Advanced Navigation Virtual Art Studio at the Krannert Art Museum/University of Illinois, Champaign. To do truly immersive research and projects, virtual environments such as the EON Icube cost upwards of $50,000 to over $1 million dollars. Which brings me to the other thought I had while watching the Google Skydiving video, “There is no way anyone would let you do that in a commercial virtual environment, especially if there is a chance someone would get motion sick or worse bring down a sensor or mirror.” But I can add this to my list of things I would do if I had my own CAVE, along with play massive multi-player online video games and make my own music video.
Mapping social networks isn’t anything new, but I find this lovely map of Facebook users in the BBC to be incredibly striking. First, because it’s obviously beautiful. Second, because you can use it as a proxy for the digital divide. The map details connections between friends on Facebook with the bright points at the end being conjoined pairs of friends. The spidery lines are the connections between those pairs. It’s pretty striking that it creates a pretty good replica of a map of the Earth. However, there are clear missing points, most notably lower population and lower wealth places. China is the really interesting hole because of their restrictions and not because of wealth or population. It would be really interesting to look at a finer scale map with some demographic data on top of it. Are there places in even populated areas, such as the US, where Facebook just isn’t that popular?
I love anything space travel related. I love Monty Python. And anyone who’s seen me should find it self evident that I love cheese. This little news item about cheese in space naturally caught my eye and had to be passed on to our good readers. This week’s podcast features a news item concerning the recent wonderful accomplishment of SpaceX and their successful launch and return of a payload into space. What was that payload, you might ask? One wheel of cheese. Why a wheel of cheese? Because of Monty Python’s famous (and delightfully hilarious) The Cheese Shop sketch. Space Travel + Cheese + Monty Python = EPIC WIN!
When you travel around the US there are lots of interesting landmarks to see. Unfortunately, only a few get the top billing. Not to disparage the Grand Canyon’s and Jamestown’s of the country, but there are some great places to see that get lost in the limelight. Checkout this list from Matador Trips of the 20 Overlooked National Landmarks in the US. For anyone attending AAG in Seattle this year, note the Seattle Underground if you’re looking for something neat to see while you’re in the city!
I imagine other countries must have similar ‘hidden’ or ‘forgotten’ landmarks. Put any suggestions in the comments section and I’ll be happy to add them to this post!