Archive for the ‘Visualizing’ Category

Today’s NASA’s image of the day is this stunning photography of the Galaxy M81 in Ursa Major.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech [click to enlarge]

I have taken the liberty of adding a little mark for illustration purposes. I added a tiny red circle at the end of the green arrow.

If M81 were the Milky Way, our own sun would be approximately where the little red circle is. A bit on the outside of one of the arms, far away from the center.

However, here comes the stunner: If this were the Milky Way, and our sun would be in the middle of the little red circle I drew, then all the stars we see with our naked eyes in our night sky would be within the little red circle. The farthest stars we can see are just a few thousand light years away.

And that is our little world.

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To get a sense of what it was like to travel on a slave ship, I resort to a Wikipedia post:

Slave ships were large cargo ships specially converted for the purpose of taking slaves, especially newly captured African slaves to the Americas. Living conditions for slaves on these ships was inhuman. Men, women and children were crowded into every possible space leaving no room to move or even breathe. There was little food and the smell could not be described. Between 1526 and 1867 about 12.5 million slaves were sent by slave ships from Africa to the Americas. But only about 10.7 million slaves actually arrived. Of all human migrations it was the most costly in terms of human lives lost. The average time to sail across the Atlantic took from 60 to 90 days. Sometimes the trips took up to four months.

Here are some charts showing the way people were crammed into the vessels:

Now for the shocking visualization.

The video below shows the movement of slaves in over 15,000 journeys. Every one of the moving dots on this graphic is a journey of a ship holding hundreds of victims, for 3 or 4 months, in these conditions, against their will.

More than 10 million human beings were displaced in this fashion.


The scale of the slave trade and its injustice comes to life this video.

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Los Angeles County is the largest county by population by far in the country, with 10.1 million. The larger metropolitan area, which spills into some other counties, has a population of 17.8 million.

If Los Angeles County were a state, it would be the 8th largest state. Only California (without Los Angeles), Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio are larger.

Look at the map above. Los Angeles County, the little red speck on the map, is larger than every one of the states shown in blue.

And incredibly, to top this off, the upper half of Los Angeles County is all desert, so it’s really the lower half that counts for all the population.

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Brazil has more homicides than another 154 countries together. I thought we had problems in the U.S.

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Here is the spillway of the Oroville Dam with the broken section. The emergency overflow spillway is to its left, and the main dam to its right.

The spillway releases about 100,000 cubic feet of water per second, that’s about 748,000 gallons per second.

For comparison, the American side (left) of Niagara Falls has a flow of about 150,000 gallons per second, and the Canadian Horseshoe falls (right) have another 600,000 gallons per second.


This means that the Oroville spillway has about the capacity of Niagara Falls in total.

How’s that for perspective.

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Post 3000

I just did a random check of the statistics of this blog site and noticed that I have 3000 live posts.


Ok, it’s now 3001 after I push publish here.

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Brilliant Chart by Randall Munroe.

Make sure you give it a good read, and scroll down slowly, all the way to the bottom. This is a good visualization for those who argue that “the climate is always changing” like some of our illustrious members of Congress.


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Milky Way 1

Astronomers have just recently come to the conclusion that there are two trillion more galaxies in the universe than previously thought. We used to think there were 100 billion galaxies.

Our own galaxy, which is a pretty unremarkable one, is estimated to have about 400 billion stars.

Let’s just say there is only ONE intelligent civilization in every galaxy that is active and alive today. Just one. That would make it two trillion civilizations.

There are about 7.5 billion human beings on earth.

That means that there are 266 intelligent CIVILIZATIONS in the universe for every human being alive – right now.

This is beyond what I can fathom.

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Well, yes, it has.

Now review this chart.

It will scare you.

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Ken Ham built the Ark Encounter, a Christian theme park. It is scheduled to open next month.

It cost tens of millions of dollars to build a “life-sized” replica of Noah’s ark.

I wonder how Noah, who was reportedly over 500 years old, with his sons, would have built such a thing with Bronze Age tools. He didn’t have access to cranes, and trucks, and roads to haul in lumber, and steel scaffoldings, and modern steel nuts and bolts and braces.

But I have to admit, it would be a cool thing to see.

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A million seconds is about eleven and a half days.

A billion seconds is 31 years and 8 months.


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If the earth were the size of the period at the end of this sentence, then the Milky Way would be the size of the continental United States.

That big.

At that scale, the Andromeda Galaxy would be a pinwheel about twice the size of the continental United States, floating about 40,000 miles out in space, or about a quarter of the way to the moon.

Now look at the earth again:  —>  .

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In January of 2013, I wrote this post about U.S. Military spending. Most of the numbers and basic facts, as well as my suggestions on what to cut still stand today, three years later (the numbers used here are for 2014). However, there are some developments that I should point out:


[IISS – click for image credit]

The U.S. military spending has gone down from $711 billion to $581 billion, if I can take the two different sources as valid and make an apples-to-apples comparison. China’s has gone down a bit, also. Russia is about the same, and so are most of the other nations. Interestingly, Saudi Arabia has doubled its spending during those years and risen to slot number 3 with $80 billion.

I put these numbers in a chart ranking the top ten military spenders in the world.

military spending 2014-1

The U.S. still spends more than the next NINE COUNTRIES COMBINED on the military, yet the population of the U.S. (321 million) is about one tenth of that of all those countries combined (3.1 billion). So overall we’re spending more than 10 times as much per capita as every other country in the world on the military. And this is AFTER all the “terrible” cuts by Obama.

Interestingly, with the rise of Saudi Arabia in this chart, they are above our ranking in spending per capita. The U.S. does about twice the spending of the major European nations per capita, about four times that of Russia and 18 times that of China.

When I listen to the Republican candidates during the debates, they are ripping into the current administration for slashing the military budget and destroying our military capability.


Are they telling me that it takes ten times the spending per capita of the next nine countries combined to defend our country?

Are we getting that much less value for our spending than China and Russia?


Or are we just spending stupidly, to use a Trump term?

Perhaps we should stop spending our military money in other countries. We’re not defending the United States and its citizens. We’re blowing money on the military industrial complex which has a vested interest in wars going on overseas all the time.

We are fanning the flames of terrorism on purpose. We’re killing innocent civilians and children by the scores with our drones. And at home we’re telling the voters that we have to be afraid of terrorists killing us.

Fear works.

None of this makes any sense to me.

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The south-east corner of Montana is closer to Texas than to the north-west corner of Montana. I know you’re all going to run and check your maps now.

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There is a general hatred of Iran that festers in the United States. This hatred is constantly stoked by the political right and it surfaces now more than ever, due to the recent nonproliferation talks and the “deal with Iran” that everyone on the right seems to call such a “bad deal” without providing substance as to why.

I was stationed as a soldier at Luke AFB in Arizona in the late 1970s. We were training Iranian pilots in American fighter jets then!

It all came apart in the late 1970s, and on November 4, 1979, under President Carter, the Iranian revolutionists captures 52 American diplomats and took them hostage for 444 days. The hostages were released “coincidentally” the day Reagan took office.

According to Wikipedia:

Fifty-two American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days (November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981), after a group of Iranian students, belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line, who were supporting the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

This is when our hatred of Iran started, over 35 years ago. When it happened, I had Iranian friends from my time as an exchange student. Of course, we lost all contact.

This got me thinking about Iran and its people.

Here is a population chart as of 2011 – which is the most recent data I could find (Wikipedia):

Ages Iran

As of 2011, there were about 75 million people in Iran. It’s by far the largest Middle Eastern country.

About 48 million Iranians, or 64 percent of all of them, or about two-thirds, were born after the hostage crisis. They do not know an Iran of the pre-revolutionary time.

About 62 million Iranians (all those highlighted in yellow) were about 15 years old or younger or not born at the time of the revolution. That’s a full 83 percent who were either children or not even born then.

Only 17% of all Iranians are therefore old enough now to have realistic memories of the time before the revolution.

I am personally older than 68 million Iranians or 91 percent of all of them.

And this is all data as of 2011. By 2015, there are probably about 5 million more – so the numbers are even worse.

The vast majority of Iranians are young people who want peace, stability, prosperity, education for themselves and their children. They don’t want war with America or anyone else. They want to travel, they want to visit the Grand Canyon and New York City, like all the people in Japan and China and France and Germany. They want to live normal lives, without hunger, censorship, and religious oppression.

In a few more years, all the old wackos will be dead and the only people left are the young generations.

We should watch Iran closely, but we should give them a chance to join the community of civilized nations, those that don’t preemptively invade or attack other sovereign nations, like we…

— hmmm, I guess not like we.

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