Archive for December, 2006

satellite images and climate change

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

Not the nicest use of satellite photos but highly illustrative of climate and weather change:

Giant Ice Shelf Breaks Off in Canadian Arctic and Arctic Ice Isn’t Refreezing in the Winter, Satellites Show


China chokes on a coal-fired boom: Toxic cloud of progress can be seen from space

This isn’t just a single snapshot but a longitudinal examination of photos to see the magnitude of change.

Top 10 green stories of 2006

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

Courtesy of David Roberts at Grist Magazine.

environmental cost of Christmas

Monday, December 25th, 2006

Just a few thoughts on this festive day on sobering waste statistics from the UK:

* More than a billion Christmas cards – 17 for every man, woman and child – will be delivered this year. That’s enough to stretch around the world five times.

* 52 square miles of wrapping paper – enough to gift-wrap [the Isle of] Jersey – will be ripped off by Boxing Day.

* 125,000 tons of plastic packaging – equal to a million [UK Labour Minister] John Prescotts – will end up in the bin.

* Six million trees have been bought but only 1.2 million will be recycled. The rest will be left to rot or be thrown away.

* Shops sell 16 million turkeys and 830 million sprouts. Up to 40 per cent of festive food is wasted.

* Turkey foil wrap will create 3,000 tons of waste.

* Within three months, 41 per cent of the toys children receive will be broken. Most will go to the tip.

* Many will get the latest mobile phone but only 10 to 15 per cent are recycled.

What to do? Besides being judicious about the amount of food you cook and the sturdiness of the toys you purchase,

Take your tree to be ground down. Many local governments now accept trees for grinding into mulch. If your’s doesn’t then demand that it does.

Save and reuse your Christmas wrap or wrap your presents in cloth, an old Japanese tradition.

Other ideas?

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

NORAD tracks Santa’s journey, using digital elevation models (DEMs), 3-D rendering, photowraps and building footprint extrusions. GIS in the service of Santa!

Friday astronomical blogging

Friday, December 1st, 2006

Okay, it’s just about computers but it’s about ancient computers.

a century ago, pieces of a strange mechanism with bronze gears and dials were recovered from an ancient shipwreck off the coast of Greece. Historians of science concluded that this was an instrument that calculated and illustrated astronomical information, particularly phases of the Moon and planetary motions, in the second century B.C.

The Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the world’s first computer, has now been examined with the latest in high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography. A team of British, Greek and American researchers was able to decipher many inscriptions and reconstruct the gear functions, revealing, they said, “an unexpected degree of technical sophistication for the period.”

Here’s a picture I took in Groningen, Netherlands of a sundial in the Prince’s Garden, which shows the time in the city and in Rome. The Latin at the top of the clock reads something like:


“Time flies … The future is uncertain, the present is unstable/changing, take care of … (do not waste it)”

(h/t Frederic for the translation)