Radioactivity Art

Greenpeace photographer Greg McNevin has created a beautiful series of photographs based on walking around areas formerly contaminated by the ongoing Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters with an LED stick connected to a geiger counter. It’s unfortunate that most people won’t be able to see the art past the politics, but I think it has value in both spheres.

Great blog posts on color perception

I was taught in school that when light of a certain frequency strikes your eyeball, you see it as a specific color. This is almost completely untrue.

Jason Cohen talks about the inadequacy of the color wheel.

Jason doesn’t mention it, but the part of your brain responsible for color vision is about the size of a lima bean. (You know these things if you read Oliver Sachs.)

Robert Kosara talks about how the practice of assigning R-O-Y-G-B-I-V values to map data misleads viewers.

Color is a cognitive effect, a subjective phenomenon of the mind, that is influenced by culture and language as well as by gross physical circumstances like lighting and surroundings. The influence goes both ways – not only is our vision mediated by our state of mind, but also vice-versa.

This one’s for Samip!

I’ve been told I should post more about philosophy and theology… this is actually about religious demographics, but it’s still very philosophically interesting.

Map of 2nd largest US religions by state

“To put the map in context […] let’s acknowledge at the outset that it doesn’t take very much to be the second-largest religion in South Carolina. It is a solidly Christian, and particularly Protestant, state, and all the minority religions combined comprise only a tiny fraction of the population.”

Delaware is one of only two states where Hinduism is considered to be the second largest religion.

Colorful Medieval Map of Britain

Julian Harrison at the Medieval Manuscripts blog has done a better job of writing about this map than I can, so I will just quote him and link to his post.

It’s a medieval view of Britain, one of four surviving maps by Matthew Paris, historian and cartographer at St Albans Abbey. Scotland is shown at the top, joined to the rest of the British mainland by a bridge at Stirling (‘Estriuelin pons’). Moving southwards are depicted two walls, one dividing the Scots from the Picts (the Antonine Wall) and the other the Scots from the English (Hadrian’s Wall).

Speculative Movies of Real Disasters

Steven Ward is a Research Geophysicist at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, UC Santa Cruz. He specializes in the quantification and simulation of natural hazards and he shares his research on youtube and his blog.

Some of the results of his modeling don’t match up cleanly with what geologists expect (for example tsunami height and reach for the Chicxulub strike) and Dr. Ward shows admirable openness about this as well as quite a bit of ingenuity in modifying the models to fit known geology.

This movie shows a physics-based computer simulation of the 1883 Krakatoa eruption; Ward suggests that a collapsing pyroclastic flow and lateral blast blew the Sunda Strait dry, which would account for the historical tsunami’s known behavior.