This Science News article looks at several science-themed board games designed by a science teacher. His new one is Subatomic, introducing players to quarks and photons to build the protons, neutrons, and electrons players need to win. www.sciencenews.org/article/subatomic-genius-games-chemistry-teacher-john-coveyou
Despite being developed in the mid-1500s and having significant, known distortions, the Mercator projection continues to be used on popular maps, its familiar grid made easy for navigation. This map compares the landmasses from a Mercator map (in light blue) with their actual relative size (in darker blue).
A government report released last Friday indicates that climate change could cause a 10% decline in U.S. GDP by 2100. But the impact will almost certainly not be felt evenly and will have uneven economic, and political, consequences. This series of maps, from an article published in Science last year, shows probabilistic economic impacts by county. The authors of the Science article note, "Combining impacts across sectors reveals that warming causes a net transfer of value from Southern, Central, and Mid-Atlantic regions toward the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes region, and New England. In some counties, median losses exceed 20% of gross county product (GCP), while median gains sometimes exceed 10% of GCP. Because losses are largest in regions that are already poorer on average, climate change tends to increase preexisting inequality in the United States. Nationally averaged effects, used in previous assessments, do not capture this subnational restructuring of the U.S. economy."
You are what you eat, including geographically it seems. Scientists researching gut microbes -- which have been linked to everything from autoimmune diseases and diabetes to mental health and obesity -- have found that when immigrants move to a new country, their gut microbes begin a slow transition to adapt to the foods of their new homes. Because their gut microbiome seems to transition relatively slowly, immigrants tend to be at higher risk for obesity and metabolic syndromes than natives eating the same diet, and immigrants' gut microbes can be used to identify their hosts' country of origin years later. www.nytimes.com/2018/11/08/health/immigration-gut-microbiome.html
With the closure of many daily and especially non-daily newspapers in the U.S. over the last decade, a growing proportion of counties in the U.S. are left with no local newspaper. This map shows "news deserts" -- defined as counties with no newspaper -- by region. In the South, for example, there are 91 counties without a newspaper. Across the Mid-Atlantic, by contrast, there are only three counties without a newspaper. www.statista.com/chart/16103/news-deserts-us/
Does one have to be a Homo sapiens to be a person? This South African professor of both philosophy and economics argues no, not necessarily. In fact, in this fascinating look at the social and intellectual lives of elephants, he argues that elephants may have what it takes to be persons.
"When you’re with a herd of elephants, you’re not alone at all; you’re in a highly charged atmosphere, shimmering with presence and feeling. To an outside observer, elephants appear to have highly responsive minds, with their own autonomous perspectives that yield only to careful, respectful interaction. ... A database of elephant recordings is now starting to accumulate in the research community. It attempts to capture acoustic, visual and tactile signals, matched to behavioural observations. But the problem of interpreting these data is vastly more formidable than decoding encrypted human text or vocal messages. If elephant communication has syntax, and if this syntax relies on cross-channel modulation, we shouldn’t expect the rules of elephant grammar to map on to the syntactic categories of any human language. Elephants inhabit deeply different lifeworlds from humans, have different hierarchies of motivation, and make different perceptual discriminations. And, except in the crudest terms, we don’t know much about what elephants might want to say to one another. New machine-learning techniques, which can identify otherwise hidden patterns in data, could yield breakthroughs. ... If our deep-learning algorithms can crack the elephant communication code, and enable us to engage in conversation with them, perhaps we could create this means of storage [of elephant "records"].... This potential, if real, would be important for much more than satisfying our curiosity about what elephants prefer and believe. ... We morally distinguish between killing persons and killing nonpersons: the first, but not the second, is murder."
Interested in monitoring your own flight or that of friends or family (or even some random flight)? FlightAware provides real-time flight-tracking information. You can watch a flight divert around a storm system, see where your airplane is coming from (and if it's on time!), and check a flight's history of on-time arrival, among other things. flightaware.com/
Global population is closing in on 7.7 billion. Middle school and high school students with an interest in population issues are invited to submit an original 60-second video on one of three challenges associated with population growth: protecting human rights, preserving biodiversity, and sustainable resource use. Contest submissions are due by Feb. 28. All the information, including information on prizes, is available at www.worldof7billion.org/student-video-contest/
Looking for an education-rich conversational tidbit while you're waiting for dinner today? This great series of maps shows where key elements of your Thanksgiving dinner -- cranberries, turkeys, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, pecans, and more -- might have been raised. storymaps.esri.com/stories/2017/thanksgiving-dinner/
How much do foreign countries spend (legally) to try to influence U.S. policies and what are they trying to achieve? Al-Monitor's "Middle East Lobbying: The Influence Game" is an eye-opening look at what is going on behind the scenes when politicians, lobbyists, and foreign governments assume no one is looking. The Influence Game is updated weekly. www.al-monitor.com/pulse/lobbying-2018
Archaeologists are scrambling to study and preserve artifacts from Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America, and other sites along the East Coast as storms and rising seas erode the settlements of Native Americans and early colonists. "Throughout human history, the water's edge has been an inviting place to settle," Martin Gallivan, a professor of anthropology at the College of William & Mary, told Bay Journal, making structures and artifacts at these early waterfront settlements particularly vulnerable to the next storm. Archaeologists excavating at Jamestown, for example, "now factor in elevation and water levels when considering where to work next on a site that is increasingly inundated with water." Longwood University's Institute of Archaeology has found that 153 of the 313 Virginian archaeological sites it was asked by the state to study are threatened by coastal erosion and rising seas, with 28 of these sites likely to disappear within 50 years.
Which industry is the most profitable in your state? This map offers a few surprises. howmuch.net/articles/most-profitable-industry-by-state
As I have previously noted, the classic "trolley problem" of utilitarian ethics has taken on a new life as designers of self-driving cars are having to decide which priorities to program into the vehicles' decision-making algorithms. It turns out, though, that "trolley problem" preferences vary considerably by country. www.technologyreview.com/s/612341/a-global-ethics-study-aims-to-help-ai-solve-the-self-driving-trolley-problem
If nothing else, this map that provides a literal "translation" of each country's name may spur further research and conversation: blogs.forbes.com/duncanmadden/files/2018/03/Literal-Translation-of-Country-Names.jpg
The National Geographic Society's Explorer Classroom provides students with opportunities to engage with NGS scientists, explorers, photo journalists, and others via free webinars. Upcoming offerings include an astrophysicist, an astrobiologist, a journalist on a 21,000-mile odyssey, and several conservation biologists who specialize in everything from big cats to penguins. Students can watch previous Explorer Classroom webinars on YouTube.
This interactive map highlights how global populations' access to electricity has changed since 1990. ourworldindata.org/grapher/share-of-the-population-with-access-to-electricity
"Seeing is believing." Or at least it used to be. How will governments use, misuse, and respond to new computer algorithms that can create "astonishingly realistic" fake video footage? www.sciencenews.org/article/new-computer-program-generates-eerily-realistic-fake-videos
"In India, a country of 1.3 billion people, fully half the population lives in a water crisis. More than 20 cities—Delhi, Bangalore, and Hyderabad among them—will gulp their entire aquifers dry within the next two years. This translates into a hundred million people living with zero groundwater. Farmers in the Punjab, one of India’s core breadbaskets, complain that their water tables have dropped by 40, 60, or 100 feet in a single generation. A water inheritance amassed since the last Ice Age, across thousands of years, is being pumped out tirelessly."
This interactive mapping site hosted by the San Francisco Chronicle allows users to track the wildfires burning throughout California. projects.sfchronicle.com/2018/fire-tracker/
For Veterans Day, here's a short look at the development and evolution of philosophies of just war. (Students in my "Mission Possible: Global Issues, Leadership Choices" class look at just war philosophy in more detail some semesters, depending on what is going on in their simulation.) philosophynow.org/issues/124/The_Philosophy_of_War
This map considers the question, "If you are in any given spot in Europe, which national capital are you closest to?" Some of the answers may surprise you.
The title of this website says it all: "17 Science Experiments That Will Make Childhood Unforgettable" brightside.me/inspiration-family-and-kids/16-science-experiments-that-will-make-childhood-unforgettable-257560/
We use written language to record the things we think are important -- memories, sacred texts, poems, legal documents.... When an alphabet falls out of use (due to conquest, political edict, demographic shift, or anything else), a people's collective memories are at risk of dissipating. This article looks at the effort to save not just endangered languages but endangered alphabets:
"By the most widely-quoted estimate, the world has between 6,000 and 7,000 languages, as many as half of which will be extinct by the end of this century. An even more dramatic sign of the rate at which the world’s cultural diversity is shrinking involves the alphabets in which those languages are written. Writing has become so dominated by a small number of global cultures that those 6,000-7,000 languages are written in perhaps 140 scripts. Moreover, at least a third of the world’s remaining alphabets are endangered – they’re no longer taught in schools, no longer used for commerce or government, never seen on television, in many cases incompatible with computer keyboards, understood only by a few elders, or used by only a handful of priests or monks. ...
The Endangered Alphabets team has partnered with preservation and revival groups in a dozen countries to create tangible items such as endangered alphabet rubber stamps so kids can have fun; packs of playing cards in alphabets from Bulgaria to Bangladesh; an endangered alphabet board game that is a cross between Cluedo and The Name of the Rose; colouring books; writers’ journals; illustrated children’s books based on folk tales gathered and retold by the children themselves; word search puzzles; and what I believe may be the world’s first six-language children’s picturebook dictionary for indigenous schoolchildren in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. ... My current project is to create a digital world atlas of endangered alphabets, with pins corresponding to the locations of cultures with endangered scripts."
Because areas adjacent to rivers and oceans typically pose fewer obstacles to airplane takeoffs and landings, waterfront locations have long been considered ideal for airports. Today, a quarter of the world's 100 busiest airports are less than 10 m. above sea level, and 12 of them are less than 5 m. above sea level. Recent extreme weather events, from tropical storms to floods, have underscored the vulnerability of the runways and other airport facilities connecting the global economy. www.nytimes.com/2018/09/07/climate/airport-global-warming-kansai.html
Election day is here. At the very least, that means the end to nonstop political ads. How do the ads in your area compare to ads shown in other parts of the country? This series of maps is based on an analysis of more than 3 million 2018 political ads. www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-what-the-midterm-campaign-looks-like-in-your-hometown
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