Space & Innovation

Mouth-Watering Maps Continue to Mine Big Data

Today’s data-savvy cartographers continue to pump out maps at breakneck speed.

Since the Platinum Age of interactive map-making shows no signs of slowing down, today's data-savvy cartographers continue to pump out maps at breakneck speed.

"It is an exciting time to be in this field. Yes, cartography is in a time of transition and vigorous intellectual activity," Tanya Buckingham, assistant director of University of Wisconsin's Cartography Lab, told Discovery News. "However, we are only at the beginning of what is possible. We have changed the medium by which we distribute the information."

Platinum Age of Maps

Buckingham acknowledged that recent technological advances in software and mapping tools have allowed us to interact differently with datasets. But maps -- even interactive ones -- are still very similar to what we've seen. The real jaw-droppers are yet to come, she said.

"As technology and human imagination drive the field, I hope that we will create graphics -- spatial and otherwise -- that will be even more helpful in coming up with solutions, and these may not look much like what we can envision today," Buckingham said.

Click through our latest roundup of maps and see if we're heading in the right direction.

In an elegant cartographic union of old and new, Smithsonian's interactive before-and-after maps of American cities let users peer into the past and see how it compares with the present. The magazine dug through Cartography Associates President David Rumsey's collection of over 150,000 maps and selected six vintage renderings of the following cities: Chicago, Denver Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York and San Francisco.

Images of the antique maps were overlaid onto satellite images from today. Users navigate a spyglass around the maps, offering a peephole into what metropolitan landscapes looked like hundreds of years ago.

Map Shows NFL Fans By County

For example, did you know the site of the Lincoln Memorial was once under water? It was -- James Kiley's 1851 map shows a significantly smaller U.S. capital, before the Potomac was filled in to create space for the monuments.

See what other facts you can uncover and check out the other maps. As an added tool in your sleuthing, be sure try out the "Swap Views," which reverses the maps' overlay.

Using a massive set of recently released open data, computer programmer Brandon Liu created this dazzling, colored-coded interactive map that illustrates the age of 1,053,713 buildings in New York City.

Pink represents structures that date to the 1830s, bluer shades indicate buildings built around the turn of the 20th Century and more yellow shades denote the mid-1990s. The map is zoomable, so drooling city planners or anyone with a weakness for architectural history can really magnify the pores of the city infrastructure to find the gems.

See if you can find Brooklyn's Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House, the oldest surviving structure in New York City.

Racist, Homophobic Tweets Mapped

If a map of building ages doesn't make you drool, the New Yorker's craft beer map surely will. The interactive map used 2012 data gathered by the Brewers Association and provides a detailed overview of the American craft-beer industry.

Data by state includes the number of total breweries, annual production, production growth from 2011 to 2012 and breweries per 500,000 people. Brewery data features the 50 largest breweries, the fastest-growing breweries and new breweries opened in 2012.

Human Influence On Ecology Mapped

The map's clean, no-frills design makes it a cinch to navigate. While the West Coast and Northeast continue their dominance of the industry -- 27 of the country's 50 largest craft breweries are found in California, Oregon, New England or the Mid-Atlantic -- the South is making strides. From 2011 to 2012, annual production grew faster in the South than almost anywhere else, with Alabama coming in first out of all 50 states.

A word of warning: using the map will make you thirsty, so it's best to have your favorite craft brew on hand. Might I suggest New Belgium's Ranger IPA -- it's a personal favorite.

Now that you have a few pints of craft beer under your belt, you probably feel like going on a zany goose chase for a mythical ape-like creature. Thanks to Joshua Stevens' map of reported Bigfoot sightings over the last 92 years, you'll have a good idea of where to start your search.

Stevens, a doctoral candidate at Pennsylvania State University, used data compiled by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, which attempts to document "the presence of an animal, probably a primate, that exists today in very low population densities," the group's website explains.

Google Maps North Korea

Using geographic-information software, Stevens plotted 3,313 data points where people have claimed to spot Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch and Yeti, among a plethora of other names. Large swaths of reported sightings can be seen in the Pacific Northwest, the Ohio River Valley, the Sierra Nevada mountains, central Florida and the Mississippi River Valley.

The map also includes a chronological timeline that shows a rise in sightings in the late 1970s, perhaps influenced by the several Bigfoot movies released during that era. Another large spike of sightings occurred during 2000 and 2009.

Anyone with even the slightest interest in linguistic accents will find reason to swoon over Joshua Katz interactive color-coded map of regional dialect variation in the continental United States.

Katz, a doctoral student Department of Statistics at N.C. State University, used data from the Harvard Dialect Survey, which included 122 terms and pronunciations and how and where they're used. A sample question: How do you pronounce the word "crayon" -- "cray-ahn" or "cray-awn?"

Stunning Maps Help Visualize Complex Data

Pronunciation data can also be viewed by a specific city and users can even take the dialect survey to find out what kind of dialect they have. One of my favorite features is the rainbow-colored aggregate maps, like the above map of Nashville. This option shows cities and regions that have the "most similar" and "least similar" dialect, effectively showing the reach of certain accents. Dark red, warm orange and yellow represent the most similar dialects, while darker blues reflect the least similar.

In terms of personal pride and identity, about the only two things that can top a person's dialect is their last name and their hometown. National Geographic's interactive Surname Map has both those areas covered.

Compiled using publicly available data, the map shows where various ethnic groups have settled in the continental United States. English and Irish names, such as Smith and O'Brien, are widespread in the densely populated Northeast and mid-Atlantic, Scandinavian names like Anderson are prevalent in the Midwest and Latino names like Martinez populate the Southwest. Color codes indicate the name's country of origin, while the size of the surname represents the number of people with that last name. For example, the largest names represent more than 125,000 people.

Zoom in and see if you can find your kinfolk.

Behold! A 'Pounded Moon' Gravity Map

Pride may be an element of identity, but it's also one of the seven deadly sins. Thanks to geographers at Kansas State who culled statistics from nationwide data banks to create the Seven Deadly Sins map, you can see how your region stacks up on a scale of saintly blue to "sinful red."

Meteorite Crash Landings Mapped

The lust map was compiled using the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported per capita. Envy was created using the total number of thefts, from burglary and larceny to robbery and stolen cars. Greed was calculated by comparing average incomes with the total number of people living below the poverty line. Wrath was determined by the total number of violent crimes -- murder, assault and rape -- reported to the FBI per capita. Sloth was figured by comparing expenditures on arts, recreation and entertainment with the rate of employment. Gluttony was tallied by counting the number of fast food restaurants per capita and Pride was an aggregate of all previous six sins.

Oddly, Nevada -- the home state of Las Vegas, aka "Sin City" -- was not so sinful. The Eastern Seaboard and the Southeast, on the other hand, are devilish indeed, while the Midwest's squeaky-clean values shone in blue streaks. You can view the rest of the Seven Deadly Sins maps in this slideshow compiled by the Las Vegas Sun.

Nothing washes that sin right out of your hair faster than a wholesome bike ride. Thankfully, two epicenters of sin -- New York and Washington D.C. -- have bike share programs.

Data journalist Jon Bruner created interactive maps of NYC's Citi Bikes and the District's Capital Bikeshare to show the ebb and flow of how often and when the programs' bikes are being used.

Robot Sub Maps Underside Of Antarctic Ice In 3-D

Bruner said he built the map by scraping the data feeds that underlie the NYC and DC real-time availability maps every 10 minutes over seven weekdays of collected data. On the animated maps, both cities look like they're breathing.

"This map, by the way, is an extremely simple example of what's possible when the physical world is instrumented and programmable," he wrote.

Mark Graham and Stefano De Sabbata for Information Geographies created this color-coded map that illustrates a country's size by its Internet population. The map uses freely available Alexa data, which is culled from millions of Internet users using one of over 25,000 different browser extensions.

As expected, Google and Facebook dominate across the Americas and Europe, but Graham and De Sabbata explain the map is more interesting than it looks.

Twitter Used To Map Happiness

The situation is more complex in Asia, as local competitors have been able to resist the two large American empires. Baidu is well known as the most-used search engine in China, which is currently home to the world's largest Internet population at over half a billion users. At the same time, we see a puzzling fact that Baidu is also listed as the most visited website in South Korea (ahead of the popular South Korean search engine, Naver). We speculate that the raw data that we are using here are skewed. However, we may also be seeing the Baidu empire in the process of expanding beyond its traditional home territory.
The remaining territories that have escaped being subsumed into the two big empires include Yahoo! Japan in Japan (in join venture with SoftBank) and Yahoo! in Taiwan (after the acquisition of Wretch). The Al-Watan Voice newspaper is the most visited website in the Palestinian Territories, the e-mail service is the most visited in Kazakhstan, the social network VK the most visited in Belarus, and the search engine Yandex the most visited in Russia.

Hackers recently published the Internet Census 2012, a research paper that explains how the anonymous group built a 420,000-node botnet that led to the creation of an animated map of Internet usage in a 24-hour period.

"Carna-Botnet" was made by hacking into nearly a half a million unprotected computers. The hypnotic, rainbow-colored map shows where users are logging in and the fluctuations of Web traffic patterns around the world.

Hurricane Risks: Surprising Map Shows Vulnerable Areas

"While playing around with the Nmap Scripting Engine (NSE) we discovered an amazing number of open embedded devices on the Internet," the paper said. "We analyzed some of the data to get an estimation of the IP address usage. All data gathered during our research is released into the public domain for further study."

Each pixel in the original image represents a network with up to 256 hosts. Black areas represent addresses that did not respond to the network probes, while blue represents low utilization and red indicates 100 percent utilization.