Or so people believe, studies show. Wired News is reporting a couple of experimental studies that suggest people think “North” is a harder route to travel than “South”, even when moving in a fairly localized area. The perception, apparently, is that North is uphill and South is downhill. On trips to North Carolina, when I was a boy, my father would joke the trip back would take longer because it’s uphill all the way. Apparently, his joke was more indicative of people’s perceptions than he knew. Both of these studies use experimental situations. It would be interesting to take real world travel information and see if people moving around in the real world actually behave the way the experiments suggest. If you ask me, this says more about geography and spatial knowledge in the US than anything else. It shows we need more spatial education!
From the always hilarious XKCD.com:
Previously we’ve posted about Pleistocene Park, and a similar project in Scotland that are aimed at recreating the fauna and flora of the Pleistocene Era by setting aside protected areas that are kept ‘wild’. Oostvaardersplassen, a park in the Netherlands, has created a similar preserve, using Konik horses and Heck cattle to give a feel for similar, but extinct, Pleistocene herbivores like the tarpan and European bison and elk. The landscape is mostly open grasslands, with small copses of trees. Currently, the Oostvaardersplassen is an isolated nature preserve, but you can take a train ride that passes through the park, and there are plans to open a natural corridor to a forest area in Zeewolde.
There is some controversy over efforts like Oostvaardersplassen, including issues of whether to truly leave these areas to nature, even when harsh winters might kill significant portions of the wildlife in such parks or when animals become sick and injured. What do you think? Do preserves like Oostvaardersplassen and Pleistocene Park really give a us a chance to glimpse a vanished landscape?
Here’s a short video of Oostervaardersplassen that gives you a good idea of what the landscape and wild horse herds are like:
Recently we featured the Grassroots Mapping project, a community participatory mapping initiative from the MIT Media Lab, on the podcast, and now the Grassroots team has headed down to Louisiana to try to utilize their balloon-based camera system to acquire imagery and map the Gulf oil spill along the Louisiana coast. Their goals are not to replace official imagery and mapping of the disaster, but rather to supplement the information by allowing citizens to provide their own documentation of the event using low-cost balloons to get aerial images for mapping.
If any of you are in the area, and would like to help out with the efforts, you can find more information at the Grassroots Mapping wiki for the Gulf Oil Spill project. There is also an article posted on CNN.com.
As I sit here STILL trying to fight off whatever cold/flu combo I brought back from AAG, I thought I would point out some great galleries of imagery of our Earth, from both government EO programs like NASA to private firms like GeoEye. Browsing through these galleries of amazing images of the Earth is a good reminder of why we observe Earth Day in the first place…
There are lots of other great sources of awesome Earth Observation imagery out there, so see what else you can find!
You may remember that we’ve mentioned the USA Science and Engineering Festival, which will be held in October in Washington, DC. It is a great idea to celebrate science and engineering, and raise awareness of the importance of STEM education here in the US. There’s already a great lineup of universities, public agencies and private firms participating, and I’m hoping that there will be a strong showing from the Geography, GIS and geospatial community. So far, though, the long list of prestigious participants, like NOAA, NASA, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, the American Museum of Natural History, UC Berkeley, etc. doesn’t include any of the big players in the geospatial community, even though STEM education will be crucial in training the next generation of workers for the geospatial industry. Still, there’s plenty of time to get involved!
As part of the festivities, there will be a You CAN do the Rubik’s Cube Tournament, with cash prizes and lots of fun for all! The tournament is only open to youth organizations in the Greater Washington, DC area, but the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, Dr. Erno Rubik, will actually be at the Science and Engineering Festival to meet the winners.
There are tons of other events planned for the Festival, culminating in the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo on the National Mall on October 23 and 24th. So, if you can get to DC, you definitely have to check out the festival, because it’s shaping up to be a pretty amazing event!
Joe Francica over at Directions Media Podcast spoke with chair-elect of COGO, Geney Terry, about COGO, its membership, and its role in the community. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but this is one of those conversations that I think will say a lot about the Geography and geospatial tech arena.
But really, if you are listening to us, you are probably already subscribed to the Directions Media podcast too, right? [iTunes link]
Apparently Dennis Quaid was wrong… the gulf stream is not slowing down as some climate change models (and over the top eco-adventure movies) predict. Apparently the belief this might happen is a victim of the age old measurement error. Initial measurements suggested the slow down. It turns out over a longer period of time, there is no slow down, just an awful lot of variability from year to year. Scientists are continuing to monitor the flow in attempt to collect more data to confirm these latest findings. On top of that, they hope to figure out what causes the variability, which in and of itself is rather puzzling.
As an aside, what I find fascinating is the sheer magnitude of these sorts of issues. We’re talking attempts to understand and predict phenomena on a global scale and time scales approaching geologic time. That’s a seriously challenging task and more power to all the scientists out there trying to tackle it head on!
For all you students out there whose maps are greeted with a “That’s bizarre…”, I’ve got the perfect map challenge for you! Our reader Keith M. sent us a heads up about the Bizarre Map Challenge, a map design competition open to high school, college, and university students (only here in the US). The maps submitted by students are supposed to be “bizarre” in the sense of being out of the ordinary but still using real-world data, so thinking outside the box will pay off!
The deadline to submit your map is March 22nd, and you can find complete contest rules here
First Prize is $5000 and the top ten will all get cash prizes, so start designing those maps!
Yes, that’s right, 137 years of awesome issues of Popular Science magazine are now available online by searching the archive at the PopSci website. If you’re a science or gadget nerd, you’ll have lots of fun checking out the science frontiers of decades gone by, and even checking out the advertising and graphics styles for the original issues.
About the only drawback is that you have to enter a search term to get into the archives, as there is no browse function available so far. However, once you’ve searched on a term, such as “rocket pack”, you can browse around through the whole issue using the archive viewer’s navigation.