Friday, 27 November 2009

Is there a star man, waiting in the sky?

Is there life on Mars? asked David Bowie once. Well, Dave, there just just be.

New evidence uncovered by scientists (you just knew it would be them) has revealed that the northern half of Mars was once covered by a vast sea.

The large body of water was fed through rivers carrying rainwater, scientists believe. These created a network of valleys on the surface of the planet more than twice as extensive as previously thought.

The findings come just a week after Nasa, the American space agency, announced that they had found water on the surface of the Red Planet, raising hopes of finding life on Mars. The extent of the Martian valleys, and what they mean for the chances of life on the planet, have been hotly debated since they were first discovered by the Mariner 9 Spacecraft in 1971.

Until now the only map of the networks was drawn by hand from satellite images in the 1990s. These led some scientists to claim that the valleys were carved not by rivers but by "groundwater sapping", small amounts of water springing or seeping out of the ground.
But the new evidence of the sheer scale of the network suggests that that is unlikely.

Scientists now believe that the rivers fed an ocean which covered around one third of the entire surface of Mars.

Read more on the Times website here

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Friday, 20 November 2009

Fly to Florida for less than a buck!

Not strictly map news, but worth sharing if you're anywhere near Owensboro, KY.

Allegiant Air is offering a deal to help Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport get a $1 million grant. The airline is offering flights from Owensboro to Orlando for $9.99. In order for the airport to get the FAA money, 10,000 passengers must fly out of Owensboro by the end of 2009.

Officials said without this boost, they could fall short, and the grant will drop to $150,000.
Allegiant Air is also offering additional holiday flights.

Here is a schedule of the $9.99 flights:
12/16: 9:20 a.m.
12/18 11:20 a.m.
12/19 10:20 a.m.
12/20 11:20 a.m.
12/22 11:20 a.m.
12/23 10:20 a.m.
12/26 10:20 a.m.
12/28 11:20 a.m.
12/30 10:20 a.m.
1/1 9:20 a.m.
1/2 10:20 a.m.
1/4 9:20 a.m.
1/5 11:20 a.m.

Now we know a good deal when we see one, and this is a good deal. It's almost worth moving to Owensboro for, just to take advantage. Check out the link here

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Friday, 9 October 2009

Things looking brighter for color blind

What connects Paul Newman, Jack Nicklaus, Bing Crosby. Keanu Reeves and Prince William? Well, not much, except that they are all color blind.
It's hard to imagine how the world must look to someone who is color blind, but at least it seems normal to them.
Color blindness is the inability to perceive differences between some of the colors that others can distinguish. It is most often of genetic nature, but may also occur because of eye, nerve, or brain damage, or due to exposure to certain chemicals. Check out the wiki entry here

One of the setbacks for them, one of many it might be said, is the trouble they have reading maps. The traditional rainbow of cartographic colours – green for grass-land and trees, red for main roads and public footpaths, and blue for major road routes and rivers – can become indistinguishable, therefore making map reading extremely difficult.
Help may be on the way though, thanks to a new product from mapping agency Ordnance Survey in Britain that can be specifically styled to make mapping easier on the colour-blind eye.

OS spokesman Paul Beauchamp said: “Cartography is a fine art, but the colours that have become so familiar to most of us are actually among the worst possible choices for those with colour blindness. By using our new mapping product, called OS VectorMap Local, councils and businesses will be able to create styles especially for colour-blind people that we hope will make life easier.”

Below are two images, one of how the map would look to someone who is not color blind, the other how it would look for those with the condition.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Another dimension in virtual maps

Google Earth is cool right? Well, yeah, but there are certain things they could do to make it just that little bit cooler. Such as adding live video to the images, making the Earth appear a bit more populated.
This new development comes from the clever folk at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who are presenting results of a recent project - "Augmenting Aerial Earth Maps with Dynamic Information".
That does admittedly make it sound quite dull but it's a really quite exciting development for the likes of Google Maps. Using crowd-sourced video footage, the team has managed to create a "dynamic alive city" with cars, clouds, football players and even people moving around in their virtual little world.
Check out the video below.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Map found, history uncovered

You can't lose something you don't know you ever had. But the serendipity of finding something you never knew you owned is always a pleasure.
Take the tale of the librarian at Oxford University's Queen's College who recently uncovered two remarkable treasures which had lain unknown among its manuscripts since at least the 18th century.
It turned out that they dated from 1816 and while no further details were available the librarian, Veronika Vernier, traced them to the cartographer, Joao Teixeira.
According to the Times Higher supplement, Nick Millea, map librarian at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, directed Miss Vernier to a six-volume "bible" of Portuguese cartography.
Mr Millea told THS that the atlases were "stunningly attractive" and "a very important find, because so few copies of this material exist and the ones at Queen's look almost new".
"It's great that they found them and that they were able to work out just how important they are," he added. "You don't get discoveries like this every day or even every year: I don't remember anything of similar quality turning up at Oxford since I joined the Bodleian in 1992."
It just goes to show, sometimes you can find something you weren't looking for and discover real treasure.

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Friday, 7 August 2009

Mapping history in Spain

Check out this story from the Daily Mail website - a British newspaper which specialises in stories such as this.

It says: We all rely on maps, be they the sat nav in your car or a traditional A-Z, and archaeologists have found our ancient ancestors were no different.
They have unearthed what they believe to be the oldest map in Western Europe, in a Spanish cave steeped in legend.
The complex etchings were engraved on a hand-sized rock 13,660 years ago, probably by Magdalenian hunter-gatherers.

Read more here and enjoy the images which do make for compelling evidence for a cogent argument.

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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Polar-ized vision of Earth's climate

Climate change is one of those black-and-white topics of conversation which tend to get people all hot and bothered, if you'll pardon the expression. Some of the evidence is quite damning, however, as the images highlighted in this article which appeared in the online magazine ITWire ( is anything to go by.
Writer David Heath sets the scene...

Sometimes America's spy satellites have to pass over 'friendly territory.' When they do, they can still be put to good use – in this case, monitoring sea ice for evidence of climate change.
In the past few days, the US Government has de-classified and
released via the United States Geological Survey website a number of very high resolution images showing exceedingly clear evidence of warming in the Arctic.
Now, I don't know if these images have had their resolution decreased, but I thought that spy satellites were capable of much higher than the stated 1 metre resolution. No matter.
The first
example (warning, all these images are at least 20MB) shows the seashore around Barrow. Barrow is on the northern coastline of Alaska and is completely locked in by ice during the northern winter. By July of each year, the ice has melted sufficiently to allow barge access to bring supplies from the south. The first image in this set shows the state of the ice in July 2006, with the sea ice situated around 800m to 1000m off the coast. The second image, just one year later, shows no sea ice at all within the image's 3000m of offshore coverage.
The next
example, of the Beaufort Sea, approximately 200km north east of Barrow, shows a substantial loss of summer open-sea ice. Whereas the first image, in August 2001, shows a mass of sea ice with a degree of melting, the second image, in August 2007 shows open sea, with minor, small patches of ice – clearly melting.
These two pairs of images display an alarming change in the proximity and amount of sea ice over a relatively short time.

Read the full article here

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