Tag Archives: Information

40 Maps That Will Help You Understand the World


Twister Sifter is carrying a great compilation of maps with some extra information on them. Several of them have been featured on this blog before, but not even close to all of them. I particularly like the map above, showing the most common surnames by country in Europe, and the one below, which shows where different writing systems are used around the world. For both, click to embiggen.


40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World   [TwisterSifter]


Why Some Languages Sound Faster than Others

Researchers from the Université de Lyon have discovered that, while some languages are spoken at more words-per-minute than others, they all tend do communicate the same amount of information in the same amount of time:

The investigators next counted all of the syllables in each of the recordings and further analyzed how much meaning was packed into each of those syllables. A single-syllable word like bliss, for example, is rich with meaning — signifying not ordinary happiness but a particularly serene and rapturous kind. The single-syllable word to is less information-dense. And a single syllable like the short i sound, as in the word jubilee, has no independent meaning at all.

With this raw data in hand, the investigators crunched the numbers together to arrive at two critical values for each language: the average information density for each of its syllables and the average number of syllables spoken per second in ordinary speech. Vietnamese was used as a reference language for the other seven, with its syllables (which are considered by linguists to be very information-dense) given an arbitrary value of 1.

For all of the other languages, the researchers discovered, the more data-dense the average syllable was, the fewer of those syllables had to be spoken per second — and thus the slower the speech. English, with a high information density of .91, was spoken at an average rate of 6.19 syllables per second. Mandarin, which topped the density list at .94, was the spoken slowpoke at 5.18 syllables per second. Spanish, with a low-density .63, ripped along at a syllable-per-second velocity of 7.82. The true speed demon of the group, however, was Japanese, which edged past Spanish at 7.84, thanks to its low density of .49. Despite those differences, at the end of, say, a minute of speech, all of the languages would have conveyed more or less identical amounts of information.

Why Some Languages Sound Faster than Others   [TIME]

Fish in the Sea

The above graphic shows the decline in fish stocks in the North Atlantic Ocean over the course of the 20th Century:

It’s hard to imagine the damage over-fishing is wrecking on the oceans. The effects are literally invisible, hidden deep in the ocean. But there is data out there. And when you visualise it, the results are shocking.

This image shows the biomass of popularly-eaten fish in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1900 and in 2000. Popularly eaten fish include: bluefin tuna, cod, haddock, hake, halibut, herring, mackerel, pollock, salmon, sea trout, striped bass, sturgeon, turbot. Many of which are now vulnerable or endangered.

Dr Villy Christensen and his colleagues at the University Of British Columbia used ecosystem models, underwater terrain maps, fish catch records and statistical analysis to render the biomass of Atlantic fish at various points this century (see the study)

Plenty More Fish in the Sea?   [InformationisBeautiful]

Deaths in Iraq Visualized

This visualisation, created by Kamel Makhloufi, shows the total number of deaths in Iraq due to the war. Each pixel represents a death.The bright blue are U.S. soldiers.  The green are Iraqi troops.  The gray at the bottom are enemies. The orange are civilians.

The graph on the left, labelled with a sigma, shows the totals over the course of the war. The one on the right shows them as a function of time.


Flying 101

South Africa’s Kulula airlines has re-painted on of their aircraft as a flying infographic, explaining all the parts of the airplane. Reminds me of the cutaway books I had as a kind that I loved, with all the parts of a plane explained.

[via WooHome]

Visualizing the Petabyte Age

This great infographic helps visualize the sheer amount of data being thrown around nowadays. The rest of it is after the jump, because it’s looooong.

Continue reading

Banned Books Week


If you live in the US (or anywhere else for that matter) make sure you celebrate Banned Books Week by reading something you’re not supposed to! Billed as the only national celebration of the freedom to read, it was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in numbers of banned books. Runs from 28 Sept to 03 Oct.

Banned Books Week