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Yesterday โ€” May 26th 2019Weird&Strange

Huge rock size of a building makes 8ft crater in road

A huge rockslide containing a boulder the size of a building has fallen into a major road in Colorado, blocking all traffic.

  • May 26th 2019 at 14:54
Before yesterdayWeird&Strange

Duvets discarded, cushions thrown at Japan's Pillow Fighting Championship

The Japanese may be known for their neatness, particularly when it comes to making their bed in the morning, but all social norms went out the window on Saturday during qualifying for the All-Japan Pillow Fighting Championships in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Library book returned after 52 years with cheque to cover fine

A reader has returned a library book 52 years after it was borrowed, enclosing a £100 cheque to cover the fine.

  • May 22nd 2019 at 12:12

Cambodia's royal oxen predict plentiful rice harvest amid EU tariffs

Cambodia's royal oxen predicted a plentiful harvest of rice, the country's biggest crop, at an ancient plowing ceremony on Wednesday.

Human composting to be allowed in Washington

Washington has become the first US state to allow human bodies to be turned into compost, rather than being buried or cremated.

  • May 22nd 2019 at 03:18

Belgian monks resurrect brewery after two century break

Belgian monks at the Grimbergen abbey are on the verge of brewing beer again after a break of more than 200 years.

Polish sextuplets surprise parents and doctors expecting five

Poland's first sextuplets on record, two boys and four girls, were born in the southern city of Krakow on Monday to the surprise of parents and doctors who had expected five babies.

Eiffel Tower climber in custody after daring ascent

Rescuers successfully talked down a man who scaled the upper heights of the Eiffel Tower on Monday, forcing the monument's evacuation, and handed him over to police.

Rescuers try to talk down Eiffel Tower climber

Rescuers were trying to talk down a man who scaled the Eiffel Tower on Monday and forced the monument's evacuation.

Firefighters rescue hefty hedgehog wedged in gate

A plump hedgehog who got stuck in a gate in Austria had to be cut free by firefighters using heavy-duty equipment.

  • May 20th 2019 at 16:49

Eiffel Tower evacuated after climber scales monument

The Eiffel Tower was evacuated and surrounding streets locked down on Monday after a man was spotted scaling the upper heights of the monument in the heart of the French capital, Paris Police and the tower's operator said.

'No more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches': Billionaire pays off students' debts

Graduating college students in Atlanta were left stunned when a billionaire technology investor told them he would wipe out their $40m (£31.4m) debts.

  • May 20th 2019 at 05:53

Traffic flow maps

By DIRKMJK

Traffic Diagram of London, by Ludwig Karl Hilberseimer, 1944. Ludwig Karl Hilberseimer Archive, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago.

A tweet by artist, designer and developer Jill Hubley drew my attention to a traffic flow map of London, created by Bauhaus architect Ludwig Karl Hilberseimer. The map shows the number of buses passing through London’s central arteries in one hour. «The traffic diagram of London shows both the typical congestion in the center and the lack of transportation facilities at outlying points,» he commented. Hilberseimer thought the solution to this transportation problem was to decentralise the city, by creating satellite cities with a population of at most 100,000.

Hubley has been tweeting numerous historical traffic flow maps, including a beautiful 1944 map showing transport along the waterways of Belgium and the Netherlands. What struck me about the Hilberseimer map is its similarity to a series of maps in a traffic study published by the city of Amsterdam in 1976. These maps were discovered by Marjolein de Lange of cyclists’ organisation Fietsersbond, and have been reproduced in the book Bike City Amsterdam she wrote with Fred Feddes.

From: Voorontwerp verkeerscirculatieplan Amsterdam, 1976. Photo Marjolein de Lange

The Amsterdam maps illustrate how cycling had declined in Amsterdam between 1961 and 1971, and how rising car use had created a congestion problem. It wasn’t until later that the city developed measures to promote cycling, as analysed in Bike City Amsterdam. I tried to create a 2016 version of the cycling map using Fietstelweek data, but it should be noted that the cycling routes of Fietstelweek participants may not be representative of overall bicycle traffic in Amsterdam.

Compared to Hilberseimer’s map, the maps created by the city of Amsterdam have a very clean design: all cartographic details that do not represent traffic data have been omitted. And then there’s the elegant legend. Hubley has tweeted a Swedish traffic flow map from 1977 with a similar type of legend, as well as a map of Florida from 1952, a map of St. Paul - Minneapolis from 1949, and a 1945 map of eastern Germany with a horizontal version of the legend. (Update - interesting variant on this 1963 Lincolnton map.) I wonder whether earlier examples exist.

Were the flow maps in Amsterdam’s traffic circulation plan inspired by Hilberseimer’s Traffic Diagram of London? Possibly, but Hilberseimer wasn’t the first to create a traffic flow map. In fact, both Amsterdam’s map makers and Hilberseimer are indebted to a map created a century before Hilberseimer’s map, by the French civil engineer Charles-Joseph Minard.

Carte de la circulation des voyageurs par voitures publiques sur les routes de la contrée où sera placé le chemin de fer de Dijon à Mulhouse (source), by Charles-Joseph Minard, 1845. Reproduced with the kind permission of the Ecole nationale des ponts et chaussées.

In her book The Minard System, visualisation strategist Sandra Rendgen comments:

In this revolutionary map, created in the middle of a debate about where to project the railroads between Dijon and Mulhouse in eastern France, Minard analyzed the street traffic on preexisting roads in the region.

Apparently, the map was so influential in shaping the debate that a fake copy was made ‘in an attempt to prove another route to be more promising’.

Rendgen describes how Minard initially created bar charts to represent traffic along segments of a route. At some point, he decided to project these graphs onto a map, which resulted in the creation of the flow map. Over time, Minard’s flow maps gained in complexity, as he used colour to represent different types of data. Minard is sometimes credited with inventing the flow map, but Rendgen points out that the design was possibly invented more or less simultaneously in Ireland, France and Belgium.

Minard’s charts and maps often contain detailed descriptions of the data and methods he used. He collected data from a range of sources, and emphasised that graphs should accurately represent the data. On the other hand, he was willing to sacrifice geographic detail or accuracy for clarity. Rendgen points to the ‘clean and minimalist aesthetics’ of his work, devoid of decorations or other clutter. It is no wonder that Edward Tufte, the renowned proponent of clutter-free data visualisation, described Minard’s work as an example of ‘graphical excellence’ (in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information).

A recurrent theme in Minard’s explanatory notes is that he aimed to make relationships quickly apparent to the eye. One of these notes has an almost futurist sense of modernity to it: «The figurative maps are thoroughly in the spirit of the century in which one seeks to save time in all ways possible.»

One could argue that the 1976 Amsterdam traffic flow maps are true heirs to Minard’s approach, and especially to his first, monochrome flow map reproduced above. As Rendgen notes, Minard’s map is «extremely stripped down; it features barely any landscape details other than a network of local place names and rivers». Even those subtle geographical hints have been omitted from the Amsterdam traffic flow maps. Of course, this only works because of the very recognisable pattern of Amsterdam’s streets.

  • May 19th 2019 at 09:15

Raven chicks in the Tower ward off prophecy of doom for Brexit Britain

Britain's political establishment is in chaos over Brexit and Prime Minister Theresa May's days in office are numbered but the kingdom and the Tower of London appear safe from legendary doom after the birth of four raven chicks at the famous fortress.

Raven chicks in the Tower ward off prophesy of doom for Brexit Britain

Britain's political establishment is in chaos over Brexit and Prime Minister Theresa May's days in office are numbered but the kingdom and the Tower of London appear safe from legendary doom after the birth of four raven chicks at the famous fortress.

Woody Harrelson photo used in investigation into lookalike beer thief

First a 'Ross from Friends' lookalike was snapped carrying beers after allegedly stealing a wallet in Blackpool, now a Woody Harrleson lookalike in New York has been pictured also making off with beer.

  • May 17th 2019 at 06:22

A giant robot of Trump sat on a toilet to visit UK for protest

A 16ft talking robot of Donald Trump sitting on a gold toilet is being shipped to the UK ahead of protests against the US president's state visit.

  • May 17th 2019 at 05:09

Brewery's stolen van found in 42 minutes after free beer offer

A brewery got its stolen van back in just 42 minutes after offering free beer for its safe return.

  • May 16th 2019 at 17:02

Take or pay: Belgian ex-king faces paternity fines

A Belgian court has ordered the country's former king to pay 5,000 euros ($5,600) a day until he takes a DNA paternity test to resolve a long-running case brought by a woman who says she is his daughter.

Tourist duped into booking roadside shipping container on Airbnb

A British tourist in Amsterdam received a shock when he arrived at his Airbnb lodgings to discover he had booked a stay in a roadside shipping container.

  • May 16th 2019 at 11:08
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