A Beautiful, Windy Map

I really enjoy visualizations on the computer.  This one puts me over the top.

Visit the website:  http://earth.nullschool.net/  and sit back and watch.

Wind patterns are animated and displayed on the globe.

How do we verify the source?  That’s always important.  There’s no easily apparent source or author until you click on the “earth” title in the bottom left corner of the screen.  Details on the source appear there.  I got excited and changed the URL to mars.nullschool.net but nothing appeared.  A bit of disappointment.

But you can play with this screen.  Click and hold your mouse and take it for a spin.

When you stop, you’ll see the vector map for a second.

And then it gets populated with the wind visualization.

Given the big storm that we’re supposed to get this weekend, this could be an interesting watch.

For the classroom, I’m seeing the following:

  • colours show intensity;
  • density show speed;
  • winds faster over water than land.

I wish I’d paid more attention in Geography and Science classes!

In addition to spinning, you can also zoom in to a location – in my case, the Great Lakes.

Well, that looks good enough for a dog walk!  Gotta go.

Take some time to play and explore.  If you have additional ideas or explorations, share them below.

Distance to Mars – A Study in Pixels

Reference to this resource came through on my “Infographics” feed.  So, I checked it out and it’s a very interesting visualization.  When you click start, Earth is visualized as 100 pixels wide.  We all know what a pixel is so it’s an interesting and familiar reference.

Click the arrow at the bottom of the screen and a simulated trip to Mars takes off.  You see lots of stars and heavenly bodies in the background en route.  Of real interest, is that you stop at the Moon on the way.  By comparison, it’s 27 pixels wide.  Click the arrow again and you’re non-stop to Mars, which is red of course, and 53 pixels wide.  Statistics about your travel speed are there to entertain you on the trip.

Just playing the simulation a couple of times is interesting and, for me, a launch pad to some refreshing of my memory about planets.  For that I’m appreciative.

Now, every good blog post has an image.  I thought that it would be interesting to encapsulate the entire visualization in an image so I tried everything that I could on this Macintosh to try to get Earth and Mars on the same screen.  That was way too big.  I could capture everything as a movie with screen capture but you’re further ahead to visit http://www.distancetomars.com and do it for yourself.

Let’s try a Plan B.  How about Earth and the Moon on the same image.  Nope.  By the time I get to the Moon, Earth has scrolled off the top.  I tried every trick I could think of.  I zoomed out as far as it would go.  No success.  I hid the Bookmarks toolbar and went to presentation mode.  The Moon was just out of reach.  I just needed a few pixels more.  1280×800  just wasn’t tall enough.

Man, if I was only writing this on my Ubuntu machine.  I could easily rotate the screen through a setting.

Then, from the back of my memory, I remembered that I could do the same thing on the Mac.  It’s a hidden option in the displays menu.  It’s one of those things that I don’t do regularly but it was something like standing on your left leg, bite your tongue, press some combination of CTRL, OPTION, SHIFT, COMMAND and then open the displays control panel.  I hit the combination and voila! I had options to rotate the screen in four orientation.  I rotated it to the left 90 degrees.  That part was easy!  The hard part was trying to navigate the mouse with the trackpad to confirm the orientation before the computer timed out and resumed normal orientation.

Persevere I did and got my screen capture.  800×1280 pixels gave me the height to capture the distance from Earth to the Moon.

Then, it was a matter of rotating the image back 90 degrees to see it as you do above.

The whole experience was a good one for me.  First, there was the wonderful review of space with the pixel being the scale.  By itself, this would be a fascinating discussion in the classroom.

Beyond that, the nerdy bit of trying to get the Earth-Moon distance (according to the legend of 3000 pixels) to display on a screen that’s 1280×800.  It took a little scaling and rotating but I got it!

Both bits of learning were a great deal of fun.  When I look at the related articles to this resource, I see that I wasn’t the only one playing around with it!

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I have this rule.  If I spend an inordinate amount of time on a website, it’s worth bookmarking or sharing or blogging or at least something so that I don’t lose track of it.

That was the case with “meteoritessize“.

The site claims to be a mapping of every meteorite that has ever fallen to earth.

It’s an interesting claim.  However, if it claimed to be a mapping of every meteorite that fell to earth that people reported, I’d go for that!

Regardless, I just found myself mesmerized with this.  The map is zoomable in and out.  Of course, I did what every normal person would do — I zoomed in to my backyard where we’re free and clear.  The closest hit was either in Dresden (in 1939)

or Worden in Michigan.  Whew!

It was interesting to motor around the world, zooming in and out.  It didn’t seem to be a surprise that the highly reported areas were also highly populated.  With stories like the meteor that hit in Russia in the news recently, this is a natural resource for inquiry and inspiration for research and learning.

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From Where Does Your Learning Come?


I read a great post yesterday from Dangerously Irrelevant from “way back” in June of 2011.  It was entitled “If you were on Twitter yesterday…” and it brought back a nice memory.  I recall reading it when it was originally posted and so it was a nice déjà vu.  Other than nostalgia, it’s a good message anytime.

From where does your learning come?

In the good old days, it might be from a district PD Day a couple of times a year and perhaps some ongoing magazine reading and talking with colleagues.  Certainly that doesn’t happen today – does it?

It you were on Twitter yesterday, your links to learning could come from anywhere on the planet.

Want to see where?  Then head over to Tweeting Earth.

Here’s a search with a twist.  Like most search engines, you enter a search key to get things started.  The results are displayed based upon that key but here’s the deal.  They’re plotted by timezone!  And, plotted around the globe.

So, ever the humble Twitter user, I decided to see where anything dealing with “dougpete” came from.  Here are the results…

Click for the full image

It appears that there’s a big gap before London – wait, that’s the Atlantic Ocean.  Guess I need to work on my reach on airplanes and ships!  Click on any of the slices to pop up a screen to see the actual Twitter messages.  It offers and reinforces the important view that we’re not in a staffroom talking to one other person.  Such is the reach of global connections – it’s up to you to make these connections meaningful and relevant.

How about references to the blog?

Interesting as well.

If you’re looking for a visual way to see what the world is tweeting, you’ll really enjoy playing around with this.  From the bottom left, you can also choose the global trends online and see where they’re coming from.

Warning – this is really addictive!

Search for yourself – you know you want to!  Search for your passion.  Other than a way to show comments globally, you might just make some new friends to continue your discussions!