Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tufte at Fermilab

Informational Design guru Edward Tufte will be at Fermilab in Illinois tonight at a reception for the Edward Tufte Celebrates Richard Feynman art exhibit. Tufte's three dimensional steel sculptures are built in the shape of Feynman's diagrams. The Nobel Prize-winning physicist and star of the wonderful book Tuva or Bust! created these pictorial representations of subatomic particle behavior. Tufte's work emphasizes their inherent beauty.

Fermilab, like the Tufte exhibit, is an intersection of art, science and nature.
Named for Physicist Enrico Fermi, the lab contains the Tevatron, once the world's largest particle accelerator. It is housed in a circular tunnel with a 4-mile circumference, 30 feet underground below the ring visible on the map and showing up clearly on the aerial photos. The Tevatron has been replaced by the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. The lab also features numerous other research facilities, bike trails, open prairie and a herd of buffalo. It shows up on aerial photography as a remarkably open space in the middle of the sprawl of metro Chicago.
The reception is from 5-7 PM tonight and there are still tickets (no charge) available. If you're in the Chicagoland area, this would be nice opportunity to meet Tufte and see the fascinating Fermilab campus.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waffle House America

Last year Deadspin posted this map showing the Waffle House-IHOP version of the Mason-Dixon Line.
  mapsbynik has added to this geographical foodways discussion by mapping the density of Waffle Houses.
The map was done by taking USGS 30x60 minute map quad sheets, overlaying them onto Google Earth, and extruding the height based on the number of Waffle Houses. More details and data by quad can be seen at mapsbynik's tumblr site. Atlanta is the home base for the chain so their dominance was expected, however the degree to which it towers above the rest of the country is truly impressive.

USGS quads are not a common unit for this type of mapping (counties would be much more typical) but the quads work nicely for the Waffle House data pattern. Because the Atlanta area is spread among numerous counties, a county map would spread the data out. This would result in more of a boring low rise edge city look than the towering skyscraper we get here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

40 Maps That Won't Explain Anything-Part 1

In my continuing quest to make fun of the recent plague of "40 Maps That Will Explain Everything You Ever Needed to Know and Keep Your Breath Minty Fresh" articles such as this one and this one; here are 10 maps that blissfully do not pretend to explain anything. 40 maps is a lot to digest in one blog post so I will break this out into several posts that will appear from time to time.

1. Jeep tracks around the Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta Australia
2. Almost unreadable map of Chicago restaurants

3. Detail from Hand Drawn Map of Berlin by Jenni Sparks
4. Oregon Wine Regions using 1980's style computer graphics - somethingaboutmaps
5. The Milky Way Transit Authority by Samuel Arbesman
6. Panama Shipping Routes from a lemon crate
7. Detail from a zoning map of Minsk-the full map is here.
8. Fort Wayne, Indiana art print from Jennasuemaps
9. Forth Worth, Texas art print, also from Jennasuemaps - really you can't tell the difference?
10. Map of Kashi (Kashgar) just because I've always been weirdly fascinated by the place. Note the areas that were not surveyed due to the arrest of the surveyor.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March Hot Dog Madness

Several years ago I featured the West Virginia Slaw Mapping Project, showing the regional pattern of hot dog preferences. As an update, the West Virginia Hot Dog Blog claims to have won last years National Hot Dog and Sausage Council March Madness style regional hot dog tournament.
I will give them the benefit of the doubt but I could not find the above image or a winner listed on the Council's facebook page. They did make the final against the Coney dog. I used MapBox to create some geographical context for the contestants:

New York - As far as I can tell New York hot dogs are pretty ordinary but since New Yorkers think everything that comes from their city is special, it had to be on the list.

 Seattle - I don't know this for sure but I think this is a hot dog with cream cheese. They put cream cheese on everything up there. No wonder they lost in the first round.

     The famous West Virginia Dog. It is a "heavenly creation" that is topped with onions, hot sauce and usually cole slaw, though as the slaw mapping project shows, not in every county.

Georgia - I don't know this one but Delish, my source for this and the
Sonoran and KC dogs, describes an "Atlanta" dog. It's a hot dog with cole slaw. Sounds like they're copying West Virginia who they lost to in the first round. Nice Atlanta Flames logo in the poster =>

The Coney - This bit of geographical confusion is actually a Michigan thing. If you go to West Lafayette Boulevard in Detroit you will find a Coney Mecca of sorts. I know this is true because I've seen it with my own TV. The Coney (Coney Island style?) is slathered with chili, onions, mustard and cheese.

The Sonoran is a southwestern inspired dog from Arizona. The dog is wrapped in bacon and has jalapenos and pinto beans among other stuff. I've never had one but it has possibilities.

The Kansas City is a Reuben sandwich hot dog topped with caraway seeds to mimic the rye bread. Supposedly these are served at Royals games though I went to that stadium several times in the 1990s and never saw such a thing - maybe it had not been invented way back in the days of yore.

The Chicago dog. Basically you empty the contents of your refrigerator onto a hot dog. I had one of these at O'Hare airport. When I saw someone I knew from Chicago I asked whether the airport experience counted. After telling him the brand of meat served on the dog he assured me I had the real deal.

Oops, they forgot to include the famous Rochester White Hot and probably many other deserving regional varieties.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


I just applied for the Amtrak Residency program. This is a cool idea originated by writers discussing their inspiration from train travel on Twitter. Amtrak's social media people picked up on this and decided to offer free train tickets to writers. While not a traditional writer, I am "passionate about train travel and writing" and might offer a unique perspective as a blogger - at least that's what I told them on my application. of the requirements of this program is a Twitter handle so I'm finally on Twitter! You can follow me @MapOfTheWeek - note my sidebar.  

With only 24 slots and over 10,000 applicants (so far) my chances are slim but I can still dream about it with a little help from Amtrak's nice maps,
 their interactive atlas,
and their "Track a Train", where you can see where each train is at any given moment. See the bottom left of their home page to activate.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Nicaragua Canal - Construction Begins This Year?

While the Panama Canal celebrates its 100th anniversary this summer, backers planning a new rival canal in Nicaragua hope to break ground by December. The project is a strange mix of centuries of aspiration, globalism and communist politics. President Daniel Ortega granted a 50 year concession to Wang Jin, a Chinese businessman and CEO of the HKND group, to build and manage the canal.
There are six proposed routes from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Nicaragua, all of them exiting through a newly built canal across the Isthmus of Rivas to the Pacific. The southernmost route through the San Juan river has been rejected for "technical reasons." The river forms the border with Costa Rica and while the entire river is considered part of Nicaragua, many investors would drop out of the project without the approval of the Costa Rican government.

Warnings by legal and environmental experts about the impact and feasibility of the project are dismissed by the Nicaraguan government as political attacks. The Sandinista government has convinced much of the population that this project will bring jobs and wealth to Nicaragua, however most of this wealth may end up in the hands of Wang and his business partners (more details at AP.)

Several colonial powers had looked at constructing a canal through Nicaragua before the canal in Panama was built.
Even after the Panama Canal was built, proposals for another canal continued to surface periodically. There have also been proposals for a "land bridge" consisting of railroads and fiber optic cables. Increased global shipping has reinvigorated the project.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cultural Regions of the Jerz

I've been having trouble finding the time to do a proper blog post this week so I'll just post this crude but colorful map of New Jersey. It went around facebook a few years ago but it's fairly new to me. Having been born where they filmed Clerks and having been to just about every corner of the Jerz, I have to say it's pretty accurate. Click once or twice to read the small print.
"New Jersey people they will surprise you
Cause they're not expected to do too much"
-John Gorka "I'm From New Jersey" - 1991