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robertogreco : mountains   7

Butterflies remember a mountain that hasn't existed for millennia
"Geology is what we look to when we want enduring monuments. Rock and metal outlast anything made of living tissue. Or do they? In another example of science getting poetic, it seems that a symbol of ephemera — a butterfly — provides evidence of a mountain long turned to dust.

Monarch butterflies are some of the toughest insects in the world. Their migration takes them from southern Canada to central Mexico. The journey is so long and difficult that it outlasts the butterfly's lifetime. Monarchs lay eggs at different stages through the journey. No one generation makes the whole trip.

Along this journey are several sites that have become local treasures and tourist attractions. The monarchs, flying in swarms, group together to rest in small areas, covering the trees like bright orange leaves. But although these sites are the most showy part of the journey, they're not the most amazing.

The amazing part of the journey is the sudden eastward turn that monarchs take over Lake Superior. Monarchs fly over the lake, necessarily, in one unceasing flight. That alone would be difficult, but the monarchs make it tougher by not going directly south. They fly south, and at one point of the lake turn east, fly for a while, and then turn back toward the south. Why?

Biologists, and certain geologists, believe that something was blocking the monarchs' path. They believe that that part of Lake Superior might have once been one of the highest mountains ever to loom over North America. It would have been useless for the monarchs to try to scale it, and wasteful to start climbing it, so all successfully migrating monarchs veered east around it and then headed southward again. They've kept doing that, some say, even after the mountain is long gone.

This puts a new spin on how we look at geology and geography. We think of mountains as structures that are, nearly, ageless. They stand while successive generations of animals change and evolve around them. Perhaps not this time, though. This time, butterflies kept up their same pattern while the world changed under them, the mountain wearing away, or being destroyed. This time, flesh outlasted stone.

Via Pilgrim at Tinker Creek [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilgrim_at_Tinker_Creek ] and The Journal of Experimental Biology [http://jeb.biologists.org/content/jexbio/199/1/93.full.pdf ]."

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bdja9w0nBdm/ ]
multispecies  morethanhuman  memory  butterflies  monarchbutterflies  geography  migration  mountains  naturalhistory 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Mapping Mountains · Mapzen
"I’ve been spending a lot of time over the mountains of Northern California lately. To view mountains from above is to journey through time itself: over ancient shorelines, the trails of glaciers, the marks of countless seasons, and the front lines of perpetual tectonic struggle. Fly with me now, on a tour through the world of elevation data:

[image]

If you see something above that looks like a lightning storm in a Gak factory, you’re in the right place. This is a “heightmap” of the area around Mount Diablo, about 30 miles to the east of San Francisco. The stripes correlate to constant elevations, but they’re not intended to be viewed in this way – the unusual coloring is the result of the way the data is “packed” into an RGBA image: each channel encodes a different order of magnitude, combining to form a 4-digit value in base-256.

The data originates from many sources, including those compiled by the USGS and released as part of The National Map of the United States. Mapzen is currently combining this data with other global datasources including ocean bathymetry, and tiling it for easy access through a tile server.

When “unpacked,” processed, and displayed with WebGL, this data can be turned into what you were maybe expecting to see:

[image]

This is a shaded terrain map, using tiled open-source elevation data, drawn in real time by your very own browser, and looking sweet.

We’re processing this data with a view toward custom real-time hillshading, terrain maps, and other elevation-adjacent analysis, suitable for use by (for instance) the Tangram map-rendering library.

Why, you ask, and how? I’m glad you asked. For the Why, come with me back through time, to the past."
peterrichartdson  2016  mapzen  maps  mapping  mountains  elevation  cartography  webgl  california  bayarea  mountdiablo  visualization 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Science Studio
"The Weight of Mountains

Here’s a short film by a children’s book illustrator about “the processes by which mountains are created and eventually destroyed, based upon the work of British geographer L. Dudley Stamp.” It’s eye-meltingly gorgeous and starkly scientific. The tone is meditative and incantatory, turning geological terms into epic poetry. If you’ve ever wanted to read John McPhee’s “Annals of the Former World” but only have 11 minutes, watch this."

[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/87651855

"This is a short film about the processes by which mountains are created and eventually destroyed. It is based upon the work of British geographer L. Dudley Stamp, and was shot in Iceland.

Physical geography and geology is an enormous and fascinating subject, and this film only touches upon the surface of the discipline. For those who wish to further advance their knowledge in this field, additional reading and research is recommended.

The film was created as part of The Weight of Mountains filmmaker residency program. For more information please visit twom.is/

Animation courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio" ]
via:vruba  2014  johnpablus  ldudleystamp  mountains  earth  science  earthscience  landscape  geology  film  scale  height  geography  history  naturalhistory  oceans  atmosphere  platemovement  platetectonics  sun  frost  eathering  wind  weather  erosion  glaciers  ice  rain  water  denudation  nature  gravity  johnmcphee 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Going Into Detail | edgeca.se
[now at: http://fjord.style/going-into-detail ]

"For a place named “Earth,” the oceans appear wildly over-represented. I haven’t been able to make more dirt, so I’ve been working on the representation angle a bit lately:"



"I won’t say much else about the Matterhorn, except to point out that it’s a very clear boundary. It feels like a place where one ought to stop, turn around, and go back.

I suppose that’s the benefit of using physical features as borders: they’re indisputable. Maybe national borders are a map of where people got tired of arguing over where the borders are. I suppose without the physical boundaries, it’s harder to tell where one’s obligations start and end, which brings us back out to space: [image]

The 1972 photo of Earth known as “The Blue Marble” is now ubiquitous, a cliché, shorthand for “everything that matters,” but without going into specifics. But as summaries go, the photo is weirdly editorial: we see clouds, and sea, and a lot of Africa. No mountains are visible, hardly any forests, certainly no cities. Nothing of any scale that we can apprehend directly. It’s strikingly humanity-free.
In this way, the photo makes a kind of political statement — a “truth claim” — which is both vague and hyperbolic simultaneously. This is the context, it says. This is the whole thing. But of course that’s ridiculous. It is obfuscatory in its apparent completeness. It’s a map of the planet’s color and brightness, at relatively low resolution. It is a context — we get to decide for what.

***

History is made of stories. And to be clear: I mean stories that we tell ourselves, and that wouldn’t exist otherwise. They’re a mental hack we use to order and interpret the available data, more self-consciously now than ever. The grand determinist narratives of the past are now rightly seen as embarrassing artifacts of a pubescent culture.

But our age will be seen that way too. The entire history of History has been the gradual overthrow, reinterpretation, and assimilation of old stories by new ones. We have to have these stories. They’re how we know things. The fact that they are almost certainly not “true” in the sense we imagine shouldn’t mean they’re useless. I’d just prefer to be more self-aware about what we think we know, what we’re making up, and where the border between those things lies.

I mean: even the mountains are moving. The tip of the Matterhorn is from something that became Africa, and will eventually be something else. None of these things exist as distinct, concrete “things” except with our active involvement. And of course, as has been implicit since the adoption of a long-range view of Earth as an environmentalist symbol: If we blow it, the Earth won’t miss us. Borders are drawn and redrawn for our convenience. The mountains will continue to move underneath them.

I like to imagine this relates to what Stewart Brand was getting at with his “We are as gods” manifesto in the first Whole Earth Catalog. It’s a bit mind-numbing to see our actions observably affecting the whole planet at once. Even when you accept the fact, it still feels unreal.

It’s hard enough to understand how we behave locally, much less on a planetary scale, and even less how all the different scales relate. I want better, more visible ways of setting and viewing context, ways which reveal the underlying assumptions and manipulations and allow for adjustments.

So that’s why I made this demo."
peterrichardson  maps  borders  scale  scaling  2014  matterhorn  history  representation  mapping  mountains  alps  switzerland  europe  earth  stewartbrand  wholeearthcatalog  bluemarble  storytelling  understanding  interpretation  data  reinterpretation  self-awareness  truth 
march 2014 by robertogreco
I do not believe that financial markets make the... • see things differently
"I do not believe that financial markets make the economy more efficient. The analogy I use is Earth. If it were reduced to the size of a basketball, it would be smoother than a billiard ball. However, at a human scale, there are mountains and oceans we can exploit….

The guy talking about making markets more efficient is thinking of something like rolling rocks down a mountain to power useful work. This indeed makes the Earth smoother, wearing down mountains and filling in oceans. But … [that] bears no resemblance to what people really do. They’re more likely to build a hydroelectric dam that holds water back, that is it keeps the system farther from equilibrium, not moves it closer."

—Aaron Brown, Red-Blooded Risk

[Shared with me in response to my tweet of this quote "Compared to its breadth, the Earth’s surface is flat: smoother than a billiard ball, the Himalayas a fingerprint." from: http://edgeca.se/the-lay-of-the-land/ ]
efficiency  markets  finance  aaronbrown  smoothness  scale  mountains  earth  oceans  2013 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The Lay of the Land | edgeca.se
[Now at: http://fjord.style/the-lay-of-the-land ]

"I have a lot of questions. I blame the fact that I grew up in a fjord.

Our town was squeezed onto a small strip of land on the edge of a deep bay, in an oblong bowl of mountains. To get anywhere, you had to leave by either “the narrows” on one end, or “the pass” on the other. Once outside, the closest approximation of civilization was eight hours away.

Inside this pre-Internet Shangri-La, raised with old comics instead of television, I developed a concept of the outside world which required a lot of recalibrating later. My education at the hands of my cartoon masters was supplemented by months-long summer family road trips, most of which was spent creeping through interminable mountain ranges, as I studied our road atlas, and my comics.

Eventually I escaped my fjord, but a few lessons of my youth have been repeatedly confirmed: topography is important, and there’s no faster way to make an impression than with a cartoon. And by “cartoon” I mean a simplification which exaggerates some details and omits others. You could also say “model,” but I like the connotations of “cartoon”; it retains a transgressive frisson that the word “model” doesn’t have, unless you’re in fashion. But anyway.

Some of my favorite things combine topography and cartoons. One in particular holds a special place in my heart: the raised relief map.

I love these maps because they feel like a very simple way of approaching some very complex questions which I don’t think anyone has answered to my satisfaction:
Where are we? What is this place like? What does it mean to be here?
Lately I’ve been focusing on a small part of this question set, something I’ve never felt I thoroughly understood: How big are mountains?"



"Whether due to limits of the material, the analytic or artistic judgements of the creator, or other artifacts of the process, most relief maps involve this kind of explicitly interpretive reduction. This increases their usefulness – an exact miniature of the landscape would not necessarily be more informative.

I’d love to explore a map of the world in such a style. But these things are incredibly time-consuming, requiring a lot of labor and decision-making, and eventually you run out of space. I’ve spent a lot of time working with 3D graphics, so here my thoughts naturally turn to a sub-question: Could these kinds of decisions be made programmatically in any way? And can our experience of mountains be incorporated at all into the process?

Which raises one further question: What is our experience of mountains?"
cartography  mapping  maps  dataviz  reality  perception  2013  peterrichardson  topography  mountains  elevation  comics  information  reliefmaps  canon 
august 2013 by robertogreco

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