Monday, March 24, 2014
At first glance, breadth of the distribution (nearly 4 to 1) and the locations of the highs and lows reflect what you might expect: highs near population centers and universities, lows in rural areas.
If you look a little closer, there are some major anomalies. Why are Utah and Wyoming (with mostly rural populations) higher than average? Why are Colorado and Virginia (with mostly urban populations) lower than average?
So I dug into it a little deeper. The first thing that jumped out at me: the definition of “notable” and the distribution of why they are notable. Someone is considered notable for this article's purposes if they have a page in Wikipedia. Well, that's an interesting definition – and subject to all sorts of bias. Then when you look at the notable persons' occupations (conveniently listed at the top of that graphic) you see that more than three quarters of them are “notable” for their participation in the arts, entertainment, sports, or politics.
Now I'm not sure who you would consider notable, but for me that list would not include any sports figures, nor the vast majority of politicians, nor any entertainers, nor any but a tiny number of artists. The people whom I would consider “notable” would be scientists, business people, politicians, and artists who made significant contributions – something quite hard to define – of one kind or another. I'd be quite interested to see a distribution like that...
Is Putin repeating the self-defeating behaviors of the Soviet Union? Some interesting thoughts in here...
This article has several human vs. animal images, like the flower at right which shows (on the left) what a bee sees versus (on the right) what a human sees. The green is a false color, as the bee is actually perceiving ultraviolet light directly and presumably sees it as a completely new color that we can't see at all. In the image's simulation that ultraviolet area is painted as green so that we can try to imagine it, and it does help. One thing that image doesn't show, however, is how the bee's segmented eye affects its perception – and partly that's because we really don't know.
Still, just the idea that animal vision is so different than human vision is kind of weird, isn't it?
Greatest things since the wheel... This is a self-styled list of the 50 greatest innovations since the wheel. It's a collection of opinions from a panel of 12 experts, so it reflects their knowledge and biases – but it's an interesting and plausible list. I'm no expert on any of this, but I'd have chosen a few others myself (for instance, the development of pesticides). I'd also love to see similar lists with specific criteria – such as the 50 innovations that saved the most lives, or that created the most wealth.