About ten years into his career as a digital cartographer Robert Szucs decided to experiment with data visualization and learned how to create strikingly beautiful, digitally accurate maps. He calls them “Maps Reimagined” and explains,
While my maps are always scientifically accurate, I think of them first and foremost as works of art.
The U.S. watershed map above is so detailed that you can pinpoint Pittsburgh in the Mississippi watershed at the conjunction of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers.
Szucs has also produced collections of elevation, forest and human population maps.
There came a point when I said I can’t look at another green-brown-white elevation map again. I needed some fun. I needed colours. And for not the first or last time, I needed to create the maps I wanted to see.
Cement, when exposed to water, can heal very small cracks in concrete by minutely dissolving and recrystallizing. However the cracks must be very tiny in Portland cement-based concrete in order for this to happen — smaller than 0.2 to 0.3 millimeters across (0.0078 to 0.0118 inches).
During the study, the team made Roman-inspired concrete using slaked lime and found that it can heal cracks up to 0.6 millimeters across (0.0236 inches), twice the tolerance of Portland cement.
If our cement used this Roman innovation it would save a lot of damage control.
p.s. Slaked lime = quicklime + water. Quicklime is made by baking lime or seashells in a kiln to split the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) into plain calcium oxide (CaO) + CO2. Quicklime is unstable and will spontaneously react with CO2 unless it is slaked with water to set as lime plaster or mortar. — parapharased from Wikipedia
Wild turkeys introduce themselves to each other on a personal basis but when it comes to where they live humans get involved.
Last summer eBird revised their species maps to show “introduced” versus “native” ranges of all the birds. For North American species that have been introduced elsewhere in the U.S. the results were bi-colored orange and purple maps. See maps for introduced house finches and bobwhites at Common Birds, Exotic Ranges.
Apparently wild turkeys were introduced, too. So how do the native turkeys stay neatly on their own side of the Washington-Idaho border? Don’t they introduce themselves to the other guys?
according to ebird turkeys are hyper-aware of political boundaries, and i imagine there is a brutal ongoing conflict between introduced turkeys (in orange) and native turkeys (in purple) for control of the west pic.twitter.com/Lu9x6tTkKg
Just one week away from the winter solstice birds are not abundant in Pittsburgh and are certainly not singing, but it’s still good for us to seek them out. A new study says that the sight or sound of birds makes us happier.
Published in October in Scientific Reports, the study enlisted 1,200+ participants in the UK, EU and US. Using a phone app called Urban Mind, participants were asked three times a day whether they could see or hear birds plus questions about their mental well-being. The data showed that being near birds improved the mental health of people both with and without depression. The good mood lasts 8 hours.
It certainly works for me. I was recently upset by sad news of a friend and could not stop thinking about it. Hours later, still mourning, I went out for a walk. While my brain was busy with sadness a noisy crow flew over and drew my attention, “Hey!” I stopped to look at the crow and my brain shifted gears. Already I felt happier. Thank you, crows.
Despite gray December days, take the time to get outdoors or watch your bird feeders for a splash of happiness.
In the meantime get happy with the sound of a northern cardinal in May.
Kites sometimes fly with the birds. A distant raptor soars at center-bottom of the photo above. Kite + Bird.
In 1914 this kite was becoming a plane. Kite = Plane.
Some kites are birds. More than two dozen species of raptors are named “kite” including the Mississippi kite (Ictinia mississippiensis) of North America and the red kite (Milvus milvus) in Europe. Kite = Bird.
Putting them all together, Chris Darbey (@chrisddarbey) photographed a red kite with a jet contrail. Kite=Bird + Plane.
Today the global human population has reached 8 billion. Lest we think our current growth rate is normal, this graph shows that human population since 10,000 BCE (the start of agriculture) has had a rapid and unnatural growth spurt in the last 70 years.
There are so many humans now that we have changed the surface of the Earth, its atmosphere, and its climate just to supply our own needs.
This rate of growth is unsustainable and somehow our species naturally knows it. Population growth will continue but is slowing to a rate of only 1% by the end of this century. Unfortunately there will be 10.9 billion of us by then!
Asia will lead the world in slowing the rate while North America remains relatively stable. (Note: The dip in 2020 is COVID deaths outperforming births.)
How will we feed 8 to 10.9 billion people? Where will we live when the sea rises and the deserts expand?
It’s a good thing for humans and the planet that our species will stop reproducing quite so fast.
However they were already iconic. Ancient Egyptians domesticated them, Ancient Romans bred them. They were prized for their horns and meat.
Unfortunately the wild population of scimitar oryx dropped to less than 200 by the early 1980’s and within 10 years the last ever seen was in Chad. Declared extinct in the wild in 2000, they still existed in captivity.
Soon captive breeding programs looked for suitable locations in the Sahel for the antelope’s reintroduction and began breeding them in zoos and in herds to succeed in the wild. In the U.S., ranches in Texas breed them for reintroduction and for hunting.
To get an idea of what the animals look like, see this video from the Greater Vancouver Zoo.
Thanks to captive breeding, the first scimitar-horned oryx were released in Chad in 2016, as shown in this video.
Many endangered species go extinct before we know they exist. That didn’t happen to this iconic animal.
(photos from Wikimedia Commons, map from researchgate; click on the captions to see the originals)