Gonzalo Ciruelos set out to discover which country was the roundest in shape.
We can define roundness in many ways. For example, as you may know, the circle is the shape that given a fixed perimeter maximizes the area. This definition has many problems. One of the problems is that countries generally have chaotic perimeters (also known as borders), so they tend to be much longer than they seem to be.
For that reason, we have to define roundness some other way. We represent countries as a plane region, i.e., a compact set C⊂R2C⊂R2. I will define its roundness as
That's about where I tune out! Turns out the answer is Sierra Leone. Click through to see lots of mathy thingies on the screen, the runners-up, the least round countries, and the source code. Read the rest
Several years ago, a new apartment building went up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue SE in Washington DC. That's a few miles from the better known 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, aka the White House. A car lot was previously on the apartment building property, then registered as 1550 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, but the developers thought it would be a hoot to petition for the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue SE address. They got it. From WTPO:
Read the rest
Residents say they often get funny looks or disbelief when they have to give their address or hand over their driver’s licenses. Carlos Gutierrez, 39, and other residents said they get asked: “You live at the White House?”
The address has produced headaches for some residents. One early resident of the building, Daniel Perry, 36, said Amazon.com initially wouldn’t take orders to the address, though that’s since been sorted out. Another resident said even now, she sometimes has difficulty ordering online. A recent order for a pair of summer sandals required calling the company, she said.
Residents have to make sure that anyone sending them mail puts the all-important “SE” after the address. The correct zip code — 20003 — is also key. The White House’s ZIP code is 20500.
A goof means the mail might eventually get to the correct recipient, but because the president’s mail gets extra security screening, any resident’s mail with an incomplete address could be significantly delayed.
Mail mix-ups happen the other way, too. Errant letters for the first family arrive at the building every so often and sit unopened by the residents’ mailboxes until the U.S.
Quartermaester is a "speculative" but extremely complete interactive map of Westeros and Essos, the two continents across which Game of Thrones' action sprawls. Character paths and noble constituencies are among the available overlays—surprisingly useful for anyone trying to get the complex series in mental order. Note: it follows the books, not the show.
Low-cost carrier Easyjet has prototyped "Sneakairs," a pair of shoes that have small vibrating motors and Bluetooth links; they work in concert with your mobile phone's mapping app, buzzing left or right when it's time to turn, and twice if you've gone the wrong way. Read the rest
The Bodleian Libraries at Oxford acquired a recently-discovered map of Middle-earth annotated by JRR Tolkien, "which reveals his remarkable vision of the creatures, topography and heraldry of his imagined world where The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place. The annotated map went unseen for decades until October 2015 when Blackwell’s Rare Books in Oxford put the map on display and offered it for sale."
(Thanks, Gary Price!) Read the rest
Google Maps and similar services are most useful, but who has the most recent space footage of your neighborhood? Check out mapbox, a Landsat viewer that tells you when the satellite image you're looking at was taken, and when a new snap is scheduled. The zoom level really isn't useful for anything at a life-lived level – with the exception of recent weather, disasters, etc – but all services should expose metadata like this. Read the rest
London is a ghost of all the things that were once there, and The Lost London Tube Map shows off some of the most famous forgotten landmarks. Biscuit Town and Bedlam are long gone, but others (like Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens) are still around to be rediscovered.
Read the rest
Some losses are definitely for the best. Few would welcome back the public horror of Tyburn gallows, or the miserable Marshalsea Prison. Other losses are a cause of some regret: Euston Arch and the Astoria, for example. Imagine a city where Whitehall Palace still stands, and Old London Bridge yet straddles the Thames. Of course, we're barely scratching the surface. We've not included the Overground or DLR, and have limited the scope to (roughly) zone 1. A whole heap of buildings such as Watkin's Folly and the White City Olympic stadium are left out, and we don't have room to include all the important stuff lost from central London.