Tag: The-map-is-the-territory

scale of the universe

The Relative Size of Old Nature

Created by Cary Huang, this interactive scale of the universe shows the relative sizes of everything from quarks to the Hoover Dam. Be prepared for some cosmic gee-whiz moments when you get out to the nebulas. The objects are complimented with cheeky facts such as “If you were to stretch your skin over Vatican City, the coating would be 200 nanometers thick.” Just a reminder that there’s still an incomprehensibly huge amount of ‘old nature’ out there left to explore.

The Scale of the Universe

izzy forest
Guided Growth

A New Take on the Tree

Many people will have heard of the infamous swastika made up of larches that revealed itself every autumn in a forest outside Berlin. The trees, which turned yellow at the end of the year, stood out against the otherwise evergreen pine forest. The 60 sq yd Nazi symbol was only discovered after the fall of the Berlin Wall when the new German unified government ordered aerial surveys of state-owned land. While it may certainly be the most notorious, the German swastika plantation certainly isn’t the first time man has manipulated living trees for his own, often crude, purposes.

National Designs

Visitors to the Castelluccio region of Italy are usually surprised to see a strangely familiar shape looming from one of the mountains that enclose the vibrant valley. Planted by some unknown patriot, a small forest in the shape of Italy has established itself on the otherwise meadowed mountainside.

Although a small dose of nationalism can be expected from most rural folk, the plantations found along the rest of the mountain range – one in the shape of North America, one resembling Africa and another Australia – are perhaps more suited to  a Benetton advert than the sedate Umbrian countryside.

Over in Kyrgyzstan, a mountain in Tash-Bashat, near the edge of the Himalayas, is also the unfortunate home to a living swastika. At more than 600 feet wide, the fir tree plantation is at least 60 years old. Rumoured to have been planted by German prisoners of war, the actual truth of the design is shrouded in mystery.

Nationalism also spawned another, less offensive forest design. Situated on the chalky South Downs that separate the UK city of Brighton from its northerly neighbours stands a plantation in the shape of a huge ‘V’ – planted to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1887. When planted, it consisted of 3060 trees costing 12 pounds, 10 shillings and four pence.

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Back to the Tribe

Mapping the World through Facebook

This world map is drawn using Facebook connections only. It was created by Paul Butler using connections between 10 million Facebook friends. The result is a remarkably good approximation of most continents and even the borders of some countries appear. China and Russia, however, seem to be missing in the Facebook empire.

(view large image)


Mapping the Utilisphere

Earth has had a geosphere, atmosphere and biosphere for a few billion years. Only within the last several thousand years has earth gained a global noosphere, the intangible ‘sphere’ of human thought and communication on earth. Now, anthropologist Félix Pharand has mapped an even newer addition to the Anthropocene’s profusion of next natural spheres.

The utilisphere consists of the planet’s utilities and transportation networks: highways, railroads, pipelines and fiber optic cables. By making his animation without labels or city names, Pharand invites us to view the spiderweb shape of the utilisphere as something more organic, approaching the freshwater hydrosphere in complexity.

Via Gizmodo


Michael Najjar – High Altitude

The rock formations in the High Altitude photo series don’t exist physically, yet they are very present in our society of simulations. The photos visualize the development of the leading global stock market indices over the past 20-30 years.

Each stock market index, such as the Dow Jones (shown above), Nikkei, Nasdaq or the more specific Lehman Brothers stock quote downfall, corresponds to a impeccably rendered unique mountain range. Photographer Michael Najjar used the images captured during his trek to Mount Aconcagua (6,962m) as the basis of the high altitude data visualizations.

Lehman 92-08

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Street View of the United States

The All Streets map visualizes of all the 240 million individual road segments in the United States. Although no other features — outlines, cities, or types of terrain — are marked, canyons and mountains emerge as the roads are layed around them.

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DIY levee

Negative Islands

Recent flooding along the Mississippi River has broken records first set 70 years ago. As always, it’s hard to attribute local weather to global patterns, but the heavier rainfall in the region is consistent with scientists’ predictions for global warming. While climate change may already be wiping out whole island nations in the South Pacific, it’s also indirectly responsible for a strange type of manmade atoll: the negative island. To greater or lesser success, some forward-thinking homeowners have constructed DIY levees to protect their houses from the overflowing Mississippi.

These tiny pieces of dry land are actually lower than the surrounding waters, going against the natural topographical order of higher-is-drier. Such single-serving levees can be seen as a sign of human hubris, the consequence of modernism’s belief that natural systems can be made rational, predictable, and safe. From another perspective, the anti-islands can be seen as a temporary river archipelago, an emerging next natural phenomenon. It’s a strange subversion of the modus operandi of suburban life: Don’t forget to stock the backyard feeder for the migrating fish, and remember to invite the neighborhood kids over for a stroll in the below-ground walking pool.

Images via Popsci.

north korea dmz

Disaster Edens: The Anti-Tourist Attraction

Imagine your cruise to the Galapagos came with a ghoulish warning: “Your hair will fall out, your skin will blister, you’ll probably get cancer and your children’s children might be born deformed.” Not enough of a deterrent? How about “We’ll shoot you on sight”?  If you’re a visiting tourist or a fisherman looking to poach some tuna or turtles, you might decide to hightail it back to the mainland.

Human culture normally creates areas amenable to other humans, but to few other species. Apartment blocks, parking lots, suburbs and Starbucks are pretty great for us, but miserable, even uninhabitable, to most creatures more specialized than a pigeon. ‘Involuntary parks,’ a term coined by Next Nature favorite Bruce Sterling, arise when warfare or industrial accidents upset the normal balance of human land-use. Soldiers shoot their enemies but not the birds. Radiation warnings will keep out the evacuated citizens, but not the bears and tigers.

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church forest dots

In Ethiopia, the Bible Grows a Forest

What are those two green dots in the dusty landscape?  Ethiopian Orthodox Christians believe in preserving forests around their churches as living symbols of Eden.  Since 95% of the country’s historical forests have been stripped for farmland and fuel, these ‘church forests’ are the last refuge for native plants, birds and insects.  The church grounds frequently contain springs that serve as clean sources of drinking water for the surrounding community.

Yet even Eden needs a fence.  Religious belief might have kept the trees, but locals are slowly chipping away at the margins of the forest to expand farming plots and to gather firewood.  Clergy members use the trees to repair the church buildings, and sell forest plants for food and dye.  Tropical ecologist Margaret Lowman is raising funds for a simple solution: building fences around the forest to keep livestock out, and to clearly demarcate the boundary between sacred and cultivated land.