Making invisible gas leaks visible

For The New York Times, Jonah M. Kessel and Hiroko Tabuchi went to oilfields in Texas with an infrared camera to look for methane leaks.

Okay, important topic here, and the contrast between regular photograph and infrared video is alarming, but I may have been drawn to the methodology at the end:

To create images of methane emissions in the Permian Basin, The Times used a custom-built FLIR camera that converts infrared energy into an electronic signal to create moving pictures. The camera’s filter allows infrared wavelengths between 3.2 to 3.4 micrometers on the electromagnetic spectrum to pass through to the sensor.

To visualize gas, the camera uses helium to cool down the sensor to the temperature of liquid nitrogen, around minus 200 degrees Celsius. Unlike traditional photography lenses, which are glass, the infrared images were created using metal lenses made from germanium, which is transparent at infrared wavelengths.

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Color breakdown of Scientific American covers

For Scientific American, Nicholas Rougeux and Jen Christiansen show the shift in hues for the magazine’s covers over the past 175 years. The changes serve as a proxy for technology advancements, changes in ownership, and shifts in thinking.

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Fashion runway color palette

From Google Arts & Culture:

We came together with The Business of Fashion to view their collection of 140,000 photos of runway looks from almost 4,000 fashion shows around the world. If you could attend one fashion show per day, it would take you more than 10 years to see them all. This experiment makes this library easy and fun to explore in one single visualization. By extracting the main colors of each look, we used machine learning to organize the images by color palette, resulting in an interactive experiment of four years of fashion by almost 1,000 designers.

The interactive lets you see all of the color palettes and click through to see photos that match the palette.

You can also upload an image to fetch fashions that match the color usage in the image. So in case you want to match your wardrobe to say, your dog’s fur, that’s totally doable now. Nice.

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How parents spend time with their kids

For Quartz, Dan Kopf and Jenny Anderson on how time spent with kids changes with age:

In the very beginning, it’s all about physical care, otherwise known as the stuff that makes your arms tired. A fifth of time parents spend with kids before their first birthday is on what could be described as keep-them-alive tasks. At age 1, this falls dramatically and it becomes playtime: peek-a-boo, stack the box, dinging and singing, making art, dancing, hide and seek, jumping in puddles. The share of time spent playing with children peaks around age 1, and then is then slowly replaced by a variety of other activities, including socializing and watching TV. Overall, time spent with children declines as kids get older.

Sounds about right. Although it makes me a bit nervous for the future.

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How people laugh online

Laughter online is full of nuances. A capitalization of some letters or a single space can change the meaning completely. Good thing The Pudding is examining the subject.

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Animated line chart to show the rich paying less taxes

David Leonhardt, for The New York Times, discusses the relatively low tax rates for the country’s 400 wealthiest households. The accompanying animated line chart by Stuart A. Thompson shows how the rates have been dropping over the years, which are now “below the rates for almost everyone else.” Oh.

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The early beginnings of visual thinking

Visualization is a relatively new field. Sort of. The increased availability of data has pushed visualization forward in more recent years, but its roots go back centuries. Michael Friendly and Howard Wainer rewind back to the second half of the 1800s, looking at the rise of visual thinking.

On the first construction of the periodic table of elements:

On February 17, 1869, right after breakfast, and with a train to catch later that morning, Mendeleev set to work organizing the elements with his cards. He carried on for three days and nights, forgetting the train and continually arranging and rearranging the cards in various sequences until he noticed some gaps in the order of atomic mass. He later recalled, “I saw in a dream, a table, where all the elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper.” (Strathern, 2000) He named his discovery the “periodic table of the elements.”

I sometimes wonder what they will say about current visualization work a couple of centuries from now. At what point will the historians say, “This is when visualization crashed and burned, never to be seen again.” Or, maybe it’ll go the other way: “This is when everyone understood and communicated with data, and visualization was the vehicle to do it.”

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Analysis of street network orientation in cities

Continuing his analysis of street grid-iness in cities around the world, Geoff Boeing sorted cities by the amount of order in their street networks:

Across these study sites, US/Canadian cities have an average orientation-order nearly thirteen-times greater than that of European cities, alongside nearly double the average proportion of four-way intersections. Meanwhile, these European cities’ streets on average are 42% more circuitous than those of the US/Canadian cities. North American cities are far more grid-like than cities in the rest of the world and exhibit far less orientation entropy and street circuity.

Chicago is all grid. Charlotte not so much.

See the detailed study that Boeing published in Applied Network Science.

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How well players drafted in fantasy football

For The Upshot, Kevin Quealy used a heatmap to visualize fantasy football draft picks:

This variance is widest for quarterbacks, whose pick patterns are so distinct you don’t even need to read their names to know they’re a quarterback. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, named the N.F.L.’s most valuable player last season, represents the most obvious example of this pattern, with a roughly equal likelihood of being drafted in any of the first 40 picks in the draft, including No. 1 over all.

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Gallery of uncertainty visualization methods

It must be uncertainty month and nobody told me. For Scientific American, Jessica Hullman briefly describes her research in uncertainty visualization with a gallery of options from worst to best.

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