Calculating swim speeds

The New York Times charted speed ranks during the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay. My favorite part is how they got the data, which wasn’t available, so they estimated through photos and timestamps:

The Times annotated a sequence of several hundred photographs to determine the speed of each athlete throughout the race. Speeds were calculated by combining the positions of the athletes with timestamp information from the images.

If the data you’re looking for isn’t readily available, it might just be a few steps away.

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Olympic event visual explainers

With the Olympics starting on Friday, The New York Times started their coverage of events and athletes to watch. Their visual explainers are always very good in that the topic is entertaining and the results feel like a creative break, which a lot of us could probably use right about now. Check out what NYT has so far for climbing, gymnastics, hurdles, and swimming.

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Tree canopy and income

Ian Leahy and Yaryna Serkez for NYT Opinion look at income and tree canopy in major cities. Higher median income neighborhoods correlate with cleaner and cooler air.

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Delaying motherhood

The New York Times mapped birth rates, which are down almost everywhere, especially among women in their 20s:

The result has been the slowest growth of the American population since the 1930s, and a profound change in American motherhood. Women under 30 have become much less likely to have children. Since 2007, the birthrate for women in their 20s has fallen by 28 percent, and the biggest recent declines have been among unmarried women. The only age groups in which birthrates rose over that period were women in their 30s and 40s — but even those began to decline over the past three years.

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Collapse of Mexico City Metro explained

The New York Times investigated the collapse of the Metro, which killed 26 people. They explain their findings with a 3-D model of the train and the tracks:

The Times took thousands of photographs of the crash site and shared the evidence with several leading engineers who reached the same conclusion: The steel studs that were vital to the strength of the overpass — linchpins of the entire structure — appear to have failed because of bad welds, critical mistakes that likely caused the crash.

Impressive use of visuals and scrollytelling to take you through the seemingly small mistakes that added to a terrible outcome.

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Drought in the Western United States

In what’s become a recurring theme almost every year, the western United States is experiencing drought, much of it exceptional or extreme. Nadja Popovich for The New York Times has the small multiple maps to show June conditions each year since 2000.

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Recreation of the neighborhood in the Tulsa race massacre

In 1921, hundreds were killed. The New York Times recreated the neighborhood, adding weight to what happened and showing the loss a hundred years ago:

For decades, what happened in Greenwood was willfully buried in history. Piecing together archival maps and photographs, with guidance from historians, The New York Times constructed a 3D model of the Greenwood neighborhood as it was before the destruction. The Times also analyzed census data, city directories, newspaper articles, and survivor tapes and testimonies from that time to show the types of people who made up the neighborhood and contributed to its vibrancy.

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Where wind and solar needs to grow by 2050

Based on estimates from Princeton University’s Net-Zero America Project, Veronica Penney for The New York Times mapped where wind and solar energy need to expand to to reach the United States’ 2050 goals. Compared to what we need, there is a long way to go from where we are now.

See also Bloomberg’s angle, which used the same data but focused more on land area than on location.

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Four types of people who prevent full vaccination

The United States vaccination rate was rolling for a while there, but it has slowed down. Sema Sgaier for NYT Opinion talks about why that is, breaking it down to four general types of people who are hesitant or don’t plan on getting vaccinated:

After conducting a national survey of U.S. adults, we grouped people into distinct profiles based on their shared beliefs and barriers to getting the vaccine. This approach, borrowed from the marketing world, is called psychobehavioral segmentation. It will allow health officials to target their strategies in ways that ignore demographic categories, like age and race. In the United States, we used this approach to identify five distinct personas: the Enthusiasts, the Watchful, the Cost-Anxious, the System Distrusters and the Covid Skeptics.

The last two groups will be harder to convince, but for the watchful and cost-anxious, I hope they look at the numbers.

The risk of side effects is very low (especially when you compare to the everyday things we do to live), your risk of infection or hospitalization goes way down when you get vaccinated, and you don’t have to pay anything.

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‘Less than 10 percent’ outdoors

The CDC said that “less than 10 percent” of coronavirus cases were from outdoor transmissions. David Leonhardt for The New York Times argues why in all likelihood that number is way too high and leads to public confusion:

If you read the academic research that the C.D.C. has cited in defense of the 10 percent benchmark, you will notice something strange. A very large share of supposed cases of outdoor transmission have occurred in a single setting: construction sites in Singapore.

In one study, 95 of 10,926 worldwide instances of transmission are classified as outdoors; all 95 are from Singapore construction sites. In another study, four of 103 instances are classified as outdoors; again, all four are from Singapore construction sites.

This obviously doesn’t make much sense. It instead appears to be a misunderstanding that resembles the childhood game of telephone, in which a message gets garbled as it passes from one person to the next.

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