David Yanofsky and Tim Fernholz for Quartz visualized the satellites orbiting Earth. There’s a lot of them.
There are more than 1,200 active satellites orbiting earth right now, taking pictures, relaying communications, broadcasting locations, spying on you, and even housing humans. Thanks to a database compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists, we can show you each one, as of August 21, 2014.
As you scroll down, you see satellites that are farther from the Earth’s surface. The horizontal position seems to just be a uniform placement for satellites at the same level.
By the way, I realize 1,200 satellites seems like a lot, but just for context: At the time I’m writing this (in the mid-afternoon on a weekday), there are about 7,800 commercial flights in the air.
The shape of the world’s demography is changing
Global Fishing Watch is an initiative to place some accountability on global fishing, an activity typically a challenge to track.
This version of the Global Fishing Watch started with 3.7 billion data points, more than a terabyte of data from two years of satellite collection, covering the movements of 111,374 vessels during 2012 and 2013. We ran a behavioral classification model that we developed across this data set to identify when and where fishing behavior occurred. The prototype visualization contains 300 million AIS data points covering over 25,000 unique vessels. For the initial fishing activity map, the data is limited to 35 million detections from 3,125 vessels that we were able to independently verify were fishing vessels. Global Fishing Watch then displays fishing effort in terms of the number of hours each vessel spent engaged in fishing behavior, and puts it all on a map that anyone with a web browser will be able to explore.
The map below is an example of the fishing patterns over time.
A good start. I hope they can make estimates of legal and illegal activity in the next iteration.
“SECULAR stagnation” is not a new idea. It was first popularised by Alvin Hansen, an economist and disciple of John Maynard Keynes, in the stagnant 1930s. Hansen thought a slowing of both population growth and technological progress would reduce opportunities for investment. Savings would then pile up unused, he reasoned, and growth would slump unless governments borrowed and spent to prop up demand. Following the economic boom of the 1950s, interest in the hypothesis dwindled. The theory is now popular again, thanks in large part to a 2013 speech by Larry Summers, an economist at Harvard University, in which he suggested that the rich world might be suffering from “secular stagnation”. Even as asset bubbles inflated before the financial crisis, growth in the rich world’s economies was hardly breakneck, suggesting a lack of productive investment opportunities. And there are a number of reasons to think it has since become harder to invigorate growth.
Mapping America’s marijuana muddle
SMOKING, growing, buying, selling or merely possessing cannabis is a criminal offence, according to America’s federal government. Ask the states, however, and you will get almost 50 different answers. In 13 of them possession of the drug has been decriminalised, meaning that tokers face only minor penalties if caught. In 23 it has been legalised for medical use. And in four—including, following ballot initiatives earlier this month, Alaska and Oregon—cannabis has been legalised outright. In all only 22 states, fewer than half the total, continue to treat the drug as criminal contraband under all circumstances. It may be only a matter of time before the unenforced federal ban goes up in smoke.
I still don’t understand the relative size of planets. The universe is too big and my sense of scale is too small to fathom such large numbers. I wish someone would explain it to me like I was five years old. What? Avi Solomon used fruit illustrations to roughly show a relatable scale? Nice. [via Boing Boing]