How N95 masks work

In efforts to reduce further spread of the virus, the US is set to distribute millions of free N95 masks across the country. Aaron Steckelberg and Bonnie Berkowitz for The Washington Post illustrated how the masks work.

Early in the pandemic, N95 masks were hard to get. My wife, who is a healthcare worker, described how she and her colleagues would have to reuse N95 masks and store them in paper bags hanging on the wall. It’s good to see so many N95s on their way to households now.

Tags: , , ,

Play miniature golf, learn about congressional redistricting

Congressional redistricting and gerrymandering are important topics, because they can directly change election results. However, gerrymandering is called gerrymandering, so it’s too easy to get lost in the details. Well, fret no more. Dylan Moriarty and Joe Fox for The Washington Post made a miniature golf game to teach what’s currently at stake.

It’s a ten-hole course where each putting green is in the shape of a district. The shapes grow more complex as you progress, and the game keeps score for you, so that you can compare your score to par or how other readers performed. It has sound, pretty watercolors, and it’s fun to play.

In the process, the Post tricks you into learning. Win-win.

Tags: , , , ,

Scale of the bigger, more detailed universe

We’ve learned more about the universe since Charles and Ray Eames produced Powers of Ten in 1977, so the BBC made an homage to the film, updating with what we know now. Spoiler alert: the universe is still big.

Tags: , ,

Powers of Ten

The Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames from 1977 shows the size of the universe by starting at human scale and then zooming out further and further. Then it comes back down to Earth and zooms in closer and closer.

I’ve linked to this iconic film a few times but just wanted to put up an actual post here for reference. You should definitely check it out if you haven’t seen it before.

Tags: , ,

Spiral graph to show Covid-19 cases

This spiralized chart by Gus Wezerek and Sara Chodosh for NYT Opinion has sparked discussions on what it means to communicate data. A lot of people don’t like it. I’m gathering my thoughts, but I think it’s fine for two main reasons: (1) it’s a lead-in to an opinion piece and (2) it’s not trying to replace the straight-up linear views that we’ve grown uncomfortably familiar with over two-plus years.

Tags: ,

Four decades of oceanic wave moments, as a surfing game

Surf is a data-based game by Andy Bergmann that lets you move across a thirty-seven-year time series from NOAA. The data forms the waves, and you’re a dog on a surf board jumping over sharks.

It’s kind of like a stripped down version of Alto’s Adventure but with data. Fun.

Tags: ,

Scale of black holes

I’m not sure there’s any way to really understand the scale of the largest black holes in the universe, but Kurzgesagt gives it a good try.

Tags: , , ,

Virtual proctoring simulation

Many colleges use virtual proctoring software in an effort to reduce cheating on tests that students take virtually at home. But the software relies on facial recognition and assumptions about the proper testing environment. YR Media breaks down the flaws and even provides a simulation so that you can see what it’s like.

Tags: , , ,

Launching a telescope to explore the Big Bang

NASA is launching the James Webb Space Telescope on December 22, 2021 with an objective to collect data on light from 13.8 billion light-years away.

Using 3-D models from NASA, Rahul Mukherjee and Lorena IƱiguez Elebee for The Los Angeles Times show how the $10 billion telescope works and how NASA plans to launch the telescope into orbit a million miles from Earth. Nothing to it.

Tags: , , ,

NASA solar probe touched the sun

NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe in 2018 in an effort to explore closer to the sun. The probe recently flew through and out of the Sun’s upper atmosphere to successfully sample particles and magnetic fields. Amazing.

The video above from NASA explains the origins, challenges, and future of the project. I want all government agencies to release videos like this.

Tags: , ,