Monday, July 27, 2015

Belated Shark Week

Sharks seem to be a beach menace this summer from North Carolina beaches, South African surf competitions, to TV movies.

But for some perspective, above is a dramatic, graphic comparison of the number of people killed by sharks per year and number of sharks killed by people PER HOUR. About 12 people are killed by sharks each year, and over 11,000 sharks are killed PER HOUR by people. The image above is just the beginning of a long graphic scroll of shark death. Here is the bottom of the graphic:

Via: visualnews.

Of course some folks have devised their own shark protection.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Stepping Up 2

This is an another image of the checkout counter at a deli in Rockville, Maryland. We saw before the pattern of customers standing and awaiting completion of their purchases, and wearing away the floor tiles with their shuffling feet, revealing contours of their use.

Her we see the wear patten made by their purchases that are placed and slid across the counter to be totaled up on the register. The white of the counter top has been worn away to the brown board underneath. There is greater wear near the customer who perhaps sets down several items, but the wear patten narrows as the checker selects one at a time to ring up their prices on the register. What remains is the pattern of support for the joint distribution of purchase placement.

But there's more (as they say on TV commercials). Look along the front edge of the counter nearest the customer. Along this edge we see the bell-shaped marginal distribution of left/right item wear as the items are either placed on or slide off the counter.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Inside-Out Additive Effects

The new Pixar film Inside-Out has emotion-characters that inhabit the mind of an 11-year old girl, named Riley. All five of her selected emotion-characters are important, Anger, Fear, Disgust, Sadness, and Joy, and as the film progresses they combine together to create new emotions. Christopher Haubursin from Vox created the matrix above, showing the new emotions created. For example Joy and Anger, either top-right or bottom-left of the matrix, combine together to produce Righteousness. Riley has many more emotions to choose from with the resulting additive effects. A clever display.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Wearing of the Sphere

This is a kids' playground item at Wheaton Regional Park in Maryland. It's a toy/chair/apparatus that is basically a painted sphere on a pedestal. Children sit, slip off, or perhaps spin around, balancing on top of the sphere. This produces the wear pattern contours shown here. The central circular region has the most paint rubbed off, down to the metal interior. Around this is a ring of lesser wear. The circular nature of the contours indicates that the children don't seem favor one approach to sit, one method of sitting, or one direction of dismounting the sphere. No one direction of wear seems overly favored, or avoided, even though the light ring of lesser wear may not have exactly equal width around the contour. What remains are the circular contours of the frequency of use of a distribution defined on a sphere.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ceaseless Tread of Pictures of Pictures

In his Sherlock Holmes story "The Man with the Twisted Lip" Arthur Conan Doyle had his character Dr. John Watson notice:
Ordering my cab to wait, I passed down the steps, worn hollow in the center by the ceaseless tread of drunken feet
Above is a detail from the drawing "Twin Staircases in Vitorchianoby" by Rhode Island School of Design  Professor Fred Lynch from his blog. It nicely illustrates Dr. Watson's observation. I found a comparable photograph of such stairs here.

The tread of those ceaseless drunken feet have worn away the stone most in the center and less along the edges. The worn steps give us a profile of a normal, bell-shaped pattern of wear. A pattern we've seen often.

But Design Professor Lynch tells how he included this image along with a drawing of a historic and often reproduced, tourist-popular image of an Italian piazza. When he asked his students to critique his drawings he found that such beautiful and historic images were of less interest to his students than this drawing of stairs. One student noted "one kind of drawing was of what I, the artist had found to be interesting. The other kind were drawings of subjects that others have found interesting". He had made a drawing of an image many people knew well, and were then more critical or bored with yet another rendition of something they had seen often. The stairs, on the other hand, were something not so ingrained in their visual memory. It was an image the artist cared about, not one that history and tourist traffic had made famous and ubiquitous.

It reminded Professor Lynch of a passage from the novel "White Noise" by Don Delilo:
“Several days later Murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in America.  We drove 22 miles into the country around Farmington.  There were meadows and apple orchards.  White fences trailed through the rolling fields.  Soon the sign started appearing.  THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA.  We counted five signs before we reached the site.  There were 40 cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot.  We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing.  All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits.  A man in a booth sold postcards and slides — pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot.  We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers.  Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book. 
“No one sees the barn,” he said finally.
A long silence followed.
“Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.”
He fell silent once more.  People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced by others.
We’re not here to capture an image, we’re here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura.  Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies.”
There was an extended silence.  The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.
“Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender.  We see only what the others see.  The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future.  We’ve agreed to be part of a collective perception.  It literally colors our vision.  A religious experience in a way, like all tourism.”
Another silence ensued.
“They are taking pictures of taking pictures,” he said.
He did not speak for a while.  We listened to the incessant clicking of shutter release buttons, the rustling crank of levers that advanced the film.
“What was the barn like before it was photographed?” he said.  “What did it look like, how was it different from the other barns, how was it similar to other barns?”

Monday, June 22, 2015

Stepping Up

This is an image of the floor in front of the checkout counter at a deli in Rockville, Maryland. Standing and awaiting completion of their purchases, customers have worn away the floor tiles with their shuffling feet, revealing contours of their use. The central brown area shows the concentrated region of the most wear. So frequently has this central spot served customers that the tile has been worn through to its interior, well deeper than its decorative surface. Around that, lesser use has worn off only the pattern of the floor tile. This leaves a white annulus of wear surrounding the central region. Beyond this there is a dirtier area of the floor tile where customers queue up to pay for their purchases. This all results in an image of the somewhat circular contours of the joint frequency distribution of customer foot placement at the checkout counter.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Yakkity Yak...

Here is a larger view of the infographic from Alberto Lucas L√≥pez showing the fascinating worldwide diversity of spoken languages. From the Infographic:
There are at least 7,102 known languages alive in the world today. Twenty-three of these languages are a mother tongue for more than 50 million people. The 23 languages make up the native tongue of 4.1 billion people. We represent each language within black borders and then provide the numbers of native speakers (in millions) by country. The colour of these countries shows how languages have taken root in many different regions.