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Archive for the ‘Visualizing’ Category

Threatening Iran

Many Americans don’t realize how big Iran is. Iran is about four times as large as California or just about the size of Alaska. Geographically, it is the 17th largest country in the world. With 82 million people, it’s the 18th largest country by population and about the size of Germany, the largest country by population in Europe.

Here is a map showing Iran. It’s almost as large as Saudi Arabia, and it dominates the Middle East. It is a neighbor to almost all Middle Eastern countries.

It’s funny to see the country as it is surrounded by United States military bases. When you look at that map, it makes you wonder who is threatening whom?

What would we Americans think if there were Iranian military bases by the dozens all along the border in Canada and Mexico, as well as in Cuba, all over the Pacific, and in Greenland and Iceland? Would we feel threatened?

I am not a friend of the Iranian regime. It’s a terrible, oppressive, murderous country. But I know Iranian people, and I have a lot of respect for them.

Looking at this map makes me think:

What the hell are we doing messing with a country of this size, so far away, with no chance of making any difference, other than spending a lot of money and risking a lot of American lives (again)?

Can we please leave Iran alone?

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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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oroville-spillway

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.

niagara_falls

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.

3000-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.

earth_temperature_timeline

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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:

Print

[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.

Really?

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?

Seriously?

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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