Covid-19 in your neighborhood

With recorded U.S. Covid-19 deaths passing the 200k mark, somehow the number still feels distant for many. The Washington Post, in collaboration with Lupa and the Google News Initiative, brings the tally to your neighborhood to help you relate more closely.

The story starts at your location. Based on population counts and density, you zoom out to see an approximation of how far a death radius would expand from where you are. You’re also taken to a county that would be wiped out.

Obviously we’re looking at hypotheticals here, but the interactive provides a granular sense of scale. The point is that 200,000 people dead is… a lot.

The Post’s version is based on Lupa’s original, which they made with Brazil numbers and location. Alberto Cairo provides background on the project here.

Small note for those who make these location-based interactives. Some people (me) who don’t want to share location or are outside the range of your dataset, it’s useful to provide links to well-known locations, so that they can still see the data.

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Scale of the explosion in Beirut

There was an explosion in Beirut. It was big. How big? Marco Hernandez and Simon Scarr for Reuters provide a sense of scale:

George William Herbert, an adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies Center for Nonproliferation Studies and a missile and effects consultant, used two methods to estimate the yield of the explosion. One used visual evidence of the blast itself along with damage assessments. The other calculation was based on the amount of ammonium nitrate reportedly at the source of the explosion.

Both techniques estimate the yield as a few hundred tons of TNT equivalent, with the overlap being 200 to 300, Herbert told Reuters.

It starts with a Hellfire Missle, which is 0.01 tons. Then it just keeps going.

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Comparing U.S. coronavirus case rates to other hot spots

The numbers are high here in the United States, and at this point, they look bad on their own. But compare it to other countries that are currently hit hard, the U.S. looks even worse. For The New York Times, Lauren Leatherby makes the comparisons.

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A million dollars vs. a billion visualized with a road trip

A million dollars. A billion dollars. The latter is 1,000 times more than the former. Just add a few zeros, right? Tom Scott used a road trip to visualize the actual difference in scale.

Scott starts by setting the baseline of a million dollars with a short, one-minute walk. Stack one million dollar bills after the other and it’s about the length of a football field. Stack one billion, and he has to drive for an hour.

Oh scale, you are a tricky thing.

It reminds me of the scaled solar system a few years ago. Earth was sized as a marble, and distance and the size of everything else was scaled accordingly.

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Scale of Bloomberg net worth

While we’re on the topic of Mike Bloomberg’s money, here’s another view from Mother Jones:

I guess he’s rich.

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Federal budget scaled to per person dollars

For The Upshot, Alicia Parlapiano and Quoctrung Bui scaled down the federal budget to something more relatable:

To better understand how federal spending has changed since Mr. Trump has taken office, we looked at the actual budget amounts for the 2020 fiscal year. We divided them by the U.S. population and sized the numbers proportionally to make their scale easier to visualize. Then we compared the numbers to the actual budget for the 2016 fiscal year, adjusting for inflation and population changes.

Federal budget visualizations usually aim to show big dollar values going to many different departments. You look at the breakdowns, and you can’t help but think, “That’s a lot of money.” For most of us, it’s hard to imagine billions of dollars, because the scale is so far beyond our own experiences.

So it’s interesting that this piece goes the other direction and scales everything down to match the values to something more familiar. The font size of each value also scales accordingly, which I think in the end is what you end up focusing on.

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Billionaire’s spending scaled to your net worth

We hear about billionaires spending millions of dollars on ads, acquisitions, etc. It seems like a ridiculous amount of money, but that’s partially because us common folk think of the millions of dollars in the context of our own net worth. When Jeff Bezos spends a few multiples of what we will never make in a lifetime, it seems like a lot.

For The Washington Post, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Youjin Shin made an interactive that instead looks at the spending as a percentage of net worth. The purchases suddenly seem less crazy (sort of).

It’s simple math but a nice way to make the spending scales more relatable.

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Scale of Australia bushfires shown with unit charts

Outside of Australia, it can be a challenge to get a grasp of how bad the bushfires actually are. There have been some attempts that overlay a map of Australia over various locations, but they’ve varied in accuracy. This scrolling unit chart by Reuters Graphics makes the comparison more concrete.

Each square represents a square kilometer, a counter at the top ticks up as you scroll, and geographic points of reference appear as you go down. Effective.

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Scale of space browser

I always enjoy me some scale of space graphics. Neal Agarwal made an interactive browser that starts at astronaut scale and quickly zooms you out to larger objects with a fisheye view.

See also: if the moon were a pixel, planets from various perspectives, a scaled physical model of the solar system, and the really slow speed of light.

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All of the plastic bottles purchased in a day, Eiffel Tower for scale

Millions of plastic bottles are purchased every day around the world. What does that look like? Simon Scarr and Marco Hernandez for Reuters virtually piled the estimated number of bottles purchased in an hour, day, month, and up to the past 10 years. They used the Eiffel Tower for scale. The above is just one day’s worth.

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