Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Shilling for Putin

The Insider ('fully committed to investigative journalism and to debunking fake news') has created a new interactive map which exposes the 'fake experts' around the world that are spreading pro-Kremlin fake narratives and Russian propaganda. The Insider claims that what "unites the individuals featured on this map is their attempt to portray Putin's policies positively while disseminating outright misinformation."

If you click on a country on the Fakesperts map you can view a list of the individuals in that country who are used by Russia to spread fake news. In the United States one of the pro-Kremlin fake experts exposed by the map is the disgraced Tucker Carlson. Carlson is a well-known Putin fanboy, who frequently espouses lies about Ukraine and has bent over backwards to support the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

In the UK ex-goalkeeper and self-proclaimed 'son of God' David Icke appears on the map. Although seen as a figure of ridicule in the UK he often appears on Russian television venting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories centered on George Soros.

Often the individuals identified by the map are little known in their own countries. For example the map identifies Daniel Patrick Welch in the United States as a 'fakespert'. Welch is the manager of a small daycare center in Boston, who is often used by Russian television as a political analyst. This is probably because he will say anything he is paymasters wish, for example that Ukraine sold weapons to ISIS and that the war in Ukraine will lead to the end of the European Union and NATO.

Monday, October 02, 2023

The October Solar Eclipse Map

In 12 days time people in North, Central, and South America will be able to experience a solar eclipse. On Saturday, Oct 14 an annular solar eclipse will occur which will be visible in some areas of the United States, Mexico, and a number of countries in Central and South America.

NASA's 2023 Solar Eclipse Explorer is a new interactive map which visualizes the path of the solar eclipse on Oct 14 down to the second. The map shows a darkened strip, which visualizes the path of the umbra, the area in which people can experience a total eclipse. You can also turn on a penumbra layer which visualizes where people can experience a partial eclipse.

Everyone living in the contiguous United States should be able to see at least a partial solar eclipse on the 14th. NASA's map allows you to view the percentage of the eclipse you can see from your location. Citizens of New York will be able to see a 23% eclipse. Los Angeles will see about 70% of the sun covered by the moon, and in San Francisco you will get a roughly 75% eclipse.

If you click on a city's place-name label on the map you can view a simulated image of the eclipse from that location, the current weather conditions in the city and the times of the beginning, fullest and end of the eclipse at the selected location. A countdown is also provided showing how much time remains until the moment of maximum coverage for your city.

The map's time slider allows you to see at which times the Antumbra will be visible. This is when the moon passes in front of the sun at your location and you should be able to see a 'ring of fire' around the moon. If you adjust the map's slider you can see the progress of the solar eclipse over the course of Oct 14 and discover when the solar eclipse will occur at any location.

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Inside the Tombs & Pyramids of Egypt

Ramesses I was the founding pharaoh of ancient Egypt's 19th Dynasty. Ramesses burial tomb was rediscovered in the Valley of the Kings by Giovanni Belzoni in October 1817. The tomb is decorated with the Book of Gates. The Book of Gates tells the story of how a newly deceased soul travels into the next world by passing through a series of 'gates'. It is believed that the depiction of this journey was placed in tombs in order to help the deceased soul navigate through the afterlife.

You can learn more about the Book of Gates in Mused's virtual tour of The Tomb of Ramesses I. The tour explains who Ramesses I was and guides you through the amazing scenes from the Book of Gates which adorn the walls of the tomb. Using custom created 'Street View' panoramas the funerary text of the Book of Gates is retold through a narrated guide of the tomb's decorated walls. Following the tour you can follow the journey that Ramesses I's soul hoped to take into the next life.

If you select the 'Free Explore' button at the start of the tour then you can explore the tomb of Ramesses I for yourself without the narrated guide. Just click on the circles to move around the tomb and pan around and zoom in and out to view the decorated walls in more detail. 

If you register with Mused you can experience many more guided virtual tours of important archaeological sites in Egypt, including the tombs of Tutankhamun, Ramesses II, and Queen Meresankh III.

Mused's Inside the Great Pyramid of Giza is an amazing virtual 'Street View' tour of the normally closed inner chambers of the Khufu Pyramid in Egypt. This guided tour allows you to explore the interior three chambers of the pyramid, including the King's Chamber, the Queen's Chamber and the subterranean chamber, which is cut into and decends into the bedrock below the pyramid itself. 

The Khufu Pyramid or Great Pyramid of Giza is the largest of the Egyptian pyramids and is the tomb of the pharaoh Khufu, who died in 2566 BC.The Great Pyramid was the world's tallest building for more than 3,800 years. Very few people are allowed inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. Today you can be one of them. 

The tour enters the pyramid via a robber's tunnel believed to date back to 820 BC. At the entrance of this tunnel you have two choices. You can either take the Guided Tour or use the Free Explore option. The guided tour uses custom made 360 degree panoramic 'Street View' imagery to lead you inside the pyramid and into the three chambers. This guided tour includes contextual annotations which explain what you are seeing during the tour. 

The 'Free Explore' option allows you to enter and explore the pyramid alone. In this mode you are left to your own devices to use the navigation circles added to the panoramic imagery to virtually explore inside the Great Pyramid.

Of course Egypt isn't the only country with ancient pyramids. If you travel south down the River Nile through Egypt to Sudan, just before you get to Khartoum you will come to Meroë, the ancient capital of the Kushite Kingdom. Here you will discover an ancient city which is home to more than 200 pyramids.

Google Arts and Culture's Pyramids of Meroë is a fascinating virtual tour of the Nubian pyramids located in the Sudanese desert. The Pyramids of Meroë were constructed in the Kingdom of Kush during the Meroitic period (542 BC–4th century AD).

As you scroll through the Pyramids of Meroë you are taken on a virtual tour of a 3D model of the pyramid of King Arkamani the First. This tour explains how these distinctly steep sided structures were built over 2,500 years ago. Keep scrolling and you can dive inside the pyramid, explore the hieroglyphs on the Offering Chapel's walls and view a 3D illustration of the pyramid's underground tomb. 

After exploring the 3D model of King Arkamani the First's pyramid you can explore Meroë for yourself using Google Maps Street View. This Street View tour includes interactive panoramic images of the partially buried pyramid of King Kalka Kaltaly, the pyramid of Queen Amanitore and the pyramid of King Adeqetali.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

How Not to Stare at the Sun

If you have ever traveled by bus then you have probably experienced the frustration of discovering that your seat is in the direct glare of the sun and that you will now have to spend the majority of the journey squinting and attempting to shade your eyes from the sun's blinding rays.

If you are a normal person you could avoid this problem simply by checking the sun's position in the sky and noting your direction of travel. If you are Amith V Purushothaman however you will program an interactive map to calculate your route, the position of the sun for the period of your journey, and the percentage of time that each side of the bus will spend in direct sunlight. 

Amith's Sit in the Shade is a super interactive map which you can use to calculate the 'best seat to minimize sun exposure while traveling' by bus or car. Just enter your starting location, your destination and the time of your departure and you can view a map of your route colored to show when either the left or right side of the bus will be in the sun. Sit in the Shade will show you the total percent of the time that each side of the bus will be in the sun and then recommend on which side of the bus you should therefore sit if you prefer to sit in the shade.

Honestly I can't ever imagine needing Sit in the Shade but I fully understand the mental challenge of solving this problem and can still appreciate Amith's wonderfully intuitive and beautifully realized map.

Via: Webcurios

Friday, September 29, 2023

The Global Impact of El Niño

This month New South Wales in Australia has been experiencing temperatures up to 16C above the Sepetember average. This is likely the start of El Niño's grip on the country. In an El Niño year Australia typically experiences drought conditions. In July the the World Meteorological Organization said there is a 90% likelihood of El Niño conditions developing this year. They say that it likely to be of 'moderate strength'.

According to Axios "El Niño can reshape weather patterns around the world, bringing drought for tens of millions and floods to others." You can learn more about what causes an El Niño and how it impacts weather conditions around the world in Axios' explainer How the El Niño Climate Pattern Affects the World's Weather.

At the heart of Axios' presentation on the causes and effects of El Niño is an animated story map. This map is used to show how rising temperatures in the Pacific Ocean can lead to shifting trade wind patterns. The effect of these shifting trade wind patterns can in turn lead to a "reduction in rainfall in the western Pacific" (leading, for example, to drought conditions in Australia). In the U.S. the effect of an El Niño is felt most strongly in winter, often leading to wetter conditions in the south, drier than normal conditions in the Midwest and milder than average conditions in the west.

The Axios map includes animated carbon concentration and sea surface temperature layers. I don't know how Azios created their animated weather layers but many animated weather maps use the open source animated weather map released by earth.nullschool.net as a starting point for animating weather data on a map. Mapbox has also released its own animated web-gl wind code, which is particularly useful for creating animated weather layers for maps built with Mapbox's mapping library.

If you want to create an interactive storymap with Mapbox like Axios' El Niño map then a good place to start is this Mapbox Interactive Storytelling template.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

More Medieval Murder Maps!

On Saturday 2 Feb 1297 three Oxford University students decided to celebrate the festival of the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary by going on a frenzied rampage. On the evening of the festival John de Skurf and his two friends Michael and Madoc ran through the streets of Oxford with swords, bows, and arrows "attacking all passers-by". One John Metescharp was shot with an arrow by Michael of St. Aldgate and he eventually died from his wound two days later.

This is just one of the gruesome murders which are recounted on Cambridge University's Medieval Murder Maps.

Back in 2018 Cambridge University unveiled an interactive homicide map which used historical coroner records to plot the locations of murders in medieval London. The university has now released two more interactive maps to also record the grizzly homicidal histories of the medieval English cities of Oxford and York. 

The interactive Medieval Murder Maps use coroners records (and, in the case of Oxford, the records of the antiquarian Twyne) to show the locations of some of the murders carried out in each city in the 14th Century. Murders on the maps are shown using categorized markers. These markers depict the murder weapon used in each recorded medieval homicide.

As well as the two new city maps there is now also a Medieval Murder podcast, in which the team behind the maps discuss some of the most interesting cases, try to solve some of the cold cases, and explore 'the similarities and the differences to violent crime in our modern world'. As well as this podcast the maps themselves also now contain a number of voice overs, providing a narrated summary of some of the medieval murders featured on the maps. Each of the three murder maps now includes a filter option which allows you to see only those murders with voice overs on the map.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Same Size As

Gibraltar (left) compared to Central Park (right)

Same Scales is an interactive map which allows you to compare two different locations side-by-side at the same scale. Comparing locations on the same map can be difficult because of the distortions caused by map projections. Same Scales helps you compare two different locations by showing each at the same scale on two different maps placed side-by-side.

Africa (left) compared to Greenland (right) on the same map

Famously Greenland and Africa appear to be similar in size on maps which use the Mercator projection. The Mercator projection is commonly used in many world maps because it accurately represents direction and shape. However, it distorts the size of land areas the further they are from the Equator.

A small part of Africa (left) compared at the same scale to Greenland (right)

If we compare Africa and Greenland using the Same Scale map we can see that in reality Africa (30.37 million km²) is far larger than Greenland (2.166 million km²).

The Urban Fabric Map is another useful map tool which can be used to compare two different cities side-by-side. This map allows you to select two individual cities and compare their building footprints at the same scale. Comparing the building footprints of cities can reveal interesting differences in the building densities of different cities across the globe. The Urban Fabric website helps you understand these building densities by also listing the number of buildings found in each city map view.
If you are interested in comparing the sizes of different countries with each other then you can also use The True Size Of interactive map. The True Size Of app allows you to overlay the shape of one country on top of an interactive map. You are then able to select and drag this country polygon around on the map in order to compare its size with any other location on Earth.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Global Problem of Forever Chemicals

Forever chemicals are almost everywhere. If you search for PFAS contamination in any country, continent, or wildlife species around the world, the chances are you will find it. This revelation comes after a massive analysis of data by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has exposed the global scale of the PFAS problem. 

PFAS or toxic "forever chemicals" are harmful substances that pollute the environment, and expose both people and animals to a number of health risks. To help show the threat of forever chemicals to wildlife around the world the EWG has released a new interactive map which visualizes the extent of PFAS contamination. The map was created following an extensive study of over 125 scientific reports on PFAS contamination in wildlife. 

The EWG study reveals that wherever we look for forever chemicals around the world we find them. The fact that PFAS is present in wildlife samples from all over the world suggests that the contamination issue is a global problem. It is also extremely worrying for human health, as even the occasional consumption of contaminated fish or meat will increase the amount of PFAS in an individual.

If you are worried about the impact of forever chemicals on the environment then you can read EWG's new peer-reviewed paper, published in Science of the Total Environment and explore EWG's interactive map, Global Danger: Threatened Wildlife at Risk from PFAS Exposure

The map reveals the extent of PFAS exposure to freshwater fish across the whole United States. According to the EWG eating "just one PFAS-contaminated freshwater fish per month could be the equivalent of drinking a glass of water with very high levels of PFOS or other forever chemicals". However it isn't just fish that are being contaminated by forever chemicals. The map shows that fish, birds and mammals across the world are being exposed and contaminated by PFAS.

The new global map of forever chemicals is just the latest effort of the EWG to expose the problems of PFAS contamination. It follows their previous map of Forever Chemicals in Freshwater Fish and their list of the 100 U.S. Military Sites With the Worst PFAS Contamination.

Monday, September 25, 2023

A Cool, Shady Spot with a Breeze

One result of global heating is that nearly every summer most of us spend some time thinking about places we can go to avoid the oppressive heat. In recent years a number of interactive maps have been released which can help you find shady places to relax and escape the direct sun. These include popular shade maps such as JveuxDuSoleil, ShadeMap and Shadowmap.

Now a new interactive map goes a few steps further and allows you to find shady spots which are also cool & breezy, and which in addition have refreshing amenities nearby. The erfrischungskarte is an interactive map which identifies cool, windy and shady areas in Berlin. It allows you to quickly find areas of the German capital where you can relax in summer based on the level of shade, temperature or breeze, and which have refreshing infrastructure nearby, such as drinking fountains, swimming holes, or green parks.

The erfrischungskarte includes a useful clock-face menu which allows you to choose any time of day. Select a time on this clock and the map will update to show where building shadows will fall at the chosen time. The color of locations on the map relate to estimated temperatures at different times of the day (4 a.m., 2 p.m. and 10 p.m., modeled for a typical summer day, with a resolution of 10 meters). In the 'filter' menu you can change the colors shown on the map to indicate the levels of the wind across the city (cold air volume data for 4 a.m. and 10 p.m., modeled for a typical summer day, at a resolution of 10 meters).

The markers on the map show the locations of drinking fountains & other water sources (blue), parks & other green areas (green) and benches (yellow).

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Restricting the Right to Protest

The right to protest is being restricted in countries around the world. Amnesty International's new interactive map, called Protect the Protest, highlights the growing numbers of human rights violations which are being committed by countries around the world aimed at removing the rights of citizens to legally protest. 

The Protect the Protest map sheds light on the types of repression that are now being faced by protesters around the world. Click on a country's marker on the map and you can learn more about how the right to protest is being attacked in that country. According to Amnesty International governments used illegal force against protesters in 86 of the 156 countries they examined in 2022, and protesters were arbitrarily detained in 79 of those 156 countries.

If you select the 'Human Rights Concerns heading in the map sidebar you can view a list of some of the methods used by authorities to restrict citizens' rights to protest. These include the 'unlawful use of force' and 'repressive legislation'. If you click on any of these methods then the countries which have been found to use this repressive method are then highlighted in yellow on the map. You can then select an individual country to learn more about how this method of repression has been used in the chosen country.