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…Flickr is mapping the world?

Flickr Alpha Map

Flickr has collected almost ninety million geotagged photos, and for every geotagged photo they have up to six Where On Earth IDs, which are unique numeric identifiers that correspond to the hierarchy of places where a photo was take: the neighborhood, the town, the country, and so on up to the continent in a process called reverse-geocoding.

Eventually they got to thinking: If they plotted all of the geotagged photos associated with a particular WOE ID, would there be enough data to generate a mostly accurate contour of that place?

Apparently the answer is yes, and though it’s not a perfect representation of the place, it’s definitely getting pretty close.

As a gift to the Flickr community, they’ve even made these 150,000 (and counting) WOE IDs with proper (-ish) shape data available via the Flickr API.

It might be a fun toy right now, but give it a few years and add in all of the data from geocoded cell phone photos, and this just might be the future of cartography as we know it.

[Flickr Code – The Shape Of Alpha]

…Google can predict the flu?

Google Flu Trends

Google found that by examining search terms that are indicators of flu activity, they could estimate occurrences of the flu up to two weeks faster than the CDC.

According to Google, millions of people around the world search for online health information, and as you would expect, flu-related searches go up during flu season, allergy-related searches during allergy season, etc.

By comparing past search data to past flu data, they were able to find a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Granted, not every person that searches for “flu” is actually sick, but by comparing data and looking for patters, trends emerge, and specific words and phrases can be picked out that are better predictors than others.

Plus, it’s not all just fun and games. By making flu estimates available each day, Google Flu Trends can provide an early-warning system for outbreaks, weeks ahead of what the CDC can provide.

What are you searching for?

[Google Flu Trends]

…Science has created the ultimate Jell-O shot?

Jell-O Shots

Creating the ultimate Jell-O shot might not be the dream of every scientist, but for a few determined drunkards, the thought of a shot that doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled the amount of alcohol found in a typical Jell-O shot was too tempting to resist.

The purpose of this experiment was to determine the highest possible concentration of alcohol attainable in a Jell-O shot, while still maintaining the structural integrity (i.e., the gelling properties) of the gelatin.

Through rigorous scientific testing, two dozen batches of Jell-O shots, and nearly five 1.75 liter bottles of vodka, they discovered that “too much is much, much more than we would have guessed”.

Read on to discover the secret behind the ultimate Jell-O shot:

[My Science Project – The Ultimate Jell-O Shot]

…The Film Can Cannon looks like fun?

Film Can Cannon

Learn the basics of thermodynamics with a film can cannon.

Butane from a lighter provides the fuel, the lighter’s sparker provides the ignition, and the film can provides the ammo, so all you need it some time and a few simple tools to build your very own.

Don’t you wish all science was this much fun?

[Flickr – Film Can Cannon]

[Via: MAKE: Blog]

…Danger makes the world go slower?

SkydivingEver wonder why time seems to slow down during moments of danger?

According to David Eagleman, a scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston:

    When a person is scared, a brain area called the amygdala becomes more active, laying down an extra set of memories that go along with those normally taken care of by other parts of the brain.

    “In this way, frightening events are associated with richer and denser memories,” Eagleman explained. “And the more memory you have of an event, the longer you believe it took.”

    Eagleman added this illusion “is related to the phenomenon that time seems to speed up as you grow older. When you’re a child, you lay down rich memories for all your experiences; when you’re older, you’ve seen it all before and lay down fewer memories. Therefore, when a child looks back at the end of a summer, it seems to have lasted forever; adults think it zoomed by.”

How did he test this theory?

    Researchers dropped volunteers from great heights. Scientists had volunteers dive backward with no ropes attached, into a special net that helped break their fall. They reached 70 mph during the roughly three-second, 150-foot drop.

    “It’s the scariest thing I have ever done,” said David. “I knew it was perfectly safe, and I also knew that it would be the perfect way to make people feel as though an event took much longer than it actually did.”

    Indeed, volunteers estimated their own fall lasted about a third longer than dives they saw other volunteers take.

Now you know.

[LifeScience – Why Time Seems to Slow Down in Emergencies]

[Via: Neatorama]

[Photo Via: SoldiersMediaCenter]