While researching for a presentation this week, I found myself enjoyably falling down an informational rabbit hole on the technicals of how the computer you’re reading this on works. Along the way I came to this fantastic explainer on the integrated circuit — its history, its design, and its manufacturing process. More so than the invention of the “computer” more generally, the invention of the integrated circuit makes possible nearly every technological innovation you are enjoying right now — and the mind-blowing future just around the bend.
Not all the things that are “interesting” are fun to read.
This investigation into the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last Valentines Day by the South Florida SunSentinel is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, in my opinion. Combining an exhaustive amount of evidence in a variety of formats, the SunSentinel presents the facts of what happened that day with brutal clarity. Through maps, audio, video, and animation delivered in an interactive website, the SunSentinel lays out the facts in a minute-by-minute narrative that makes plain the shameful failure of leadership on behalf of the command staff of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, and the utterly preventable number of deaths that resulted from it. And, to be sure, the failures weren’t just limited to the command staff.
(Worth noting: while the read is a heavy one, it’s not a gory one. You can view this piece without being exposed to any images of the deadly result of the shootings.)
If the name draws a blank, go back into your memory banks and recall your high school days learning about things like polygons, obtuse angles, and isosceles triangles. If any of those ring a bell at all, then what you once learned (and possibly have forgotten!) are some of the fundamental concepts of Euclidean Geometry.
Over two millennia ago, Euclid (a Greek mathematician from the Egyptian city of Alexandria) recorded his geometric system in a series of 13 books called The Elements. In 1847, Oliver Byrne reproduced Euclid’s first six books, with the addition of colorful diagrams and illustrations that made Euclid’s work simple(r) to understand. Now, Byrne’s work has been reproduced as an interactive website that is a gorgeous homage to both Euclid and Byrne, and a vivid example of the value and artistry of digital data viz tech.
Evidently there is an annual set of awards given out for the most beautiful, creative and informative examples of data visualization. They are known as the Kantar Information Is Beautiful Awards, and this year’s recipients are worth a look.
Pink Floyd notwithstanding, the far side of the moon is not actually dark. It is, however, now home to a soft-landed spacecraft from Earth for the first time in human history. China not only pulled off this feat this week, but once landed, they dropped a ramp down and deployed a 6-wheeled rover to do some sight seeing.
Even more interesting is the support mission and systems put in place to insure continued communication with their rover and lander. Earlier this summer, China launched Queqiao, a communications relay satellite designed to park in a “halo orbit” around the L2 point that is about 60,000 km past the far side of the moon’s surface. Once on station, Queqiao deployed a pair of microsatellites — Longjang 1 & 2) to complete the communications coverage. Only Longjang 2 entered lunar orbit as designed, putting it in position to be the first to capture a photo of Earthrise from the lunar far side by something other than an Apollo astronaut.