Month: October 2011
This week’s podcast is going to be a little late (probably Tuesday). However, I will try to make up for my delay with a special episode late in the week.
I have subscribed to the wonderfully informative eNature website and email list for years because of the kid in me loves that it is a grown up Ranger Rick. They provide Zip Guides that map animals and plants in your area by zip code. I like when they post information on native bird species because even though I’m not a birder, I participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count every February. This month eNature has a Bird Call Challenge,which would be a great activity for a geography or science classroom or fun home activity.
Prepare to watch today’s productivity sink like a log tied with rocks and encased in a block of cement. The Royal Society in the UK has thrown open its archives of papers that date back to the 17th century. There are some seriously amazing gems in that collection. Newton’s first paper? It’s in there. Ben Franklin’s kite experiment? It’s in there. Kinda curious what Darwin was publishing before his famous book? Guess what? In there. What to know what the first mention of ‘geography’ was in the collection? That would have been all the way back at the beginning in 1686.
Let’s be honest – I could spend weeks and weeks in this collection and still only scratch the outer coating of the packaging for the surface. All you have to do it begin your journey into the history of science is click this little link.
Sometimes I think we can forget how beautiful the human built environment can become. The All That Is Interesting Blog had an interesting piece last week on the Eixample district of Barcelona. This district was famously built in the early 20th century specifically with a grid layout and rounded street corners. The idea behind the corners is to allow for greater visibility and to ‘open up’ the design. As the site points out, the effect of the area is quite striking when taken as a whole, particularly in areal photo form. Perhaps more interesting is the human geography that has grown around this design. A simple wikipedia search shows this district to house a range of social and ethnic populations. The place was designed with the needs of the population located in each of it’s five neighborhoods. Markets, schools, and hospitals littered the neighborhoods and apparently many of the existing markets in the area have been there since the beginning. All in all, it’s an attractive built environment we can see and visit even today.
Halloween is a holiday that has often been associated with maps… treasure maps, spooky house plans, escape routes, and trick-or-treat routes. I think it is also the holiday with the most spatial app maps. Useful Halloween maps include the No Trick Treats interactive map to identify houses handing out treats for kids with dietary restrictions, The Patch sites such as RosevillePatch created a map of the best neighborhood Halloween decorations in Roseville, CA and Benicia to let visitors add to the map. I tried to make my own tree map using Many Eyes from IBM to determine Halloween candy with the most bang for my buck. Looking at it though, it is more of a surefire way to get our house toilet papered —- handing out one Hershey’s Kiss per Trick or Treater. … but more candy for me after Halloween .
Just in time for my switch to the iOS platform. ESRI has finally released ArcGIS for Android! If you’re on the Android platform, head over to the Android Marketplace and you can download this free app. If you’re familiar with the iOS or the Windows 7 Phone version, you should know what to expect – mobile mapping, location based information, data collection ability, the ability to link to your own Arc Server installation, etc. All great stuff and it’s wonderful to see it finally here! Guess what I’ll be playing with this morning?
It’s amazing what you can find if you slow down when you’re flipping through the channels. The other day I happened to stop at PBS and caught this wonderful documentary, “How Long Is A Piece Of String?”, published by the BBC. It features comedian Alan Davies attempting to accurately measure the length of a piece of string. Ultimately the documentary becomes an exploration of quantum physics, but along the way they cover a great bit of geography in the form of scale. In fact there’s a whole bit in the middle there where Davies attempts to measure a bit of coast line, which neatly demonstrates the coastline paradox. If you want to jump to the paradox bit, it can be found at around 2:15 through just over 5:00 in this smaller video.
While this week’s launch of two of the satellites for the Galileo constellation there has been quite a bit of information ramping up for the yet unusable system. BUT with the EU having worked so hard to make Galileo a reality it is good to see that there they are trying to make sure that it will capture the attention of industry and consumers alike. With GLONASS‘s aging and yet incomplete constellation and the GPS constellation also seeing an aging infrastructure and unclear upgrade path thanks to reduced budgets over recent years (not to mention continuing uncertainty on the Lightsquared front), it is great to see the EU making visible progress (as well as China) in deploying new positioning systems. Below is a video about Galileo and this link takes you to a BBC look at a satellite during construction.
You have probably already heard about the U.S. Center For Disease Control’s unique outreach effort to educate the public about being prepared for a large scale emergency. They used the public’s interest in zombie movies like Zombieland and books like World War Z to create a zombie comic based on actual preparedness training. The Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic comic was unveiled at last weeks NYC Comicon and is free for download according to the ComicsAlliance who provide a link to the site. CDC scientists in the comic are shown using many geospatial and GIS tools to handle the zombie threat to public health.
The CDC is not the only institution using comics to get across their message. The Smithsonian recently create several Women in Science comics available on their Women in Science Working Wonders Website (Try to say that three times fast). They have a quiz to discover what type of scientific superheroine you are that includes many scientists who use geospatial technologies in their line of research. Maybe the American Association of Geographers (AAG) should create a similar comic book series with a quiz about what type of geographer are you?