Wednesday News and Links

Today a stream of urban development and sociology links…

“cut it in half, and you’ve basically got the El”

  • Wired Magazine reiterated, perhaps more concisely, the same findings.
  • Wired Magazine also highlighted a fascinating study in which slime mold was used to recreate the highways of the Iberian Peninsula using oat flakes to represent major cities.  “[These] experiments are steps toward refining Physarum (slime mold) as a problem-solving tool, cheaper than computers … Among the arcane mathematical challenges solved in Physarum protoplasm are plane tessellations, hierarchical planar proximity graphs, logical computing, process algebra and shortest-path problems.”
  • Finally, a recent article in the New York Times points to the growing disparity in education level in urban centers as a significant organizing principle for recent college graduates.  College-educated young people tend to flock together, which is most often where good jobs are, and former manufacturing hubs like Dayton, Ohio are losing out on this important demographic, which does not bode well for their future.

Stone Circles on Lake Michigan Shore

One of our Backyard Geographers came upon two mysterious, man-made stone circles while tramping a section of the Lake Michigan shoreline in Illinois.  There are two circles, each about 70 feet in diameter.  The one closest to the shore is made of black stones and the one further inland is comprised of white stones.  Each circle is comprised of 1- to 8-inch stones arranged carefully in a ring about 8 inches wide.  The stones seem to have been collected locally as evidenced by the nearby stash of buckets.  Plants have grown up through the stones indicating they have been here a while.

Who made the circles?  What do they symbolize?  Please contact us with your observations and speculations.

Black Stone Circle with Lake Michigan in the Background.

Our Backyard Geographer Recording GPS Track Around Black Stone Circle.

Our Backyard Geographer Recording Data – White Stone Circle detail in Foreground.

GPS track of Stone Circles – Each circle is approximately 70 feet in diameter and they are located in shallow swales between low dunes along the Lake Michigan shore.

Monday News and Links

  • Those of us living in the Midwest got our first taste of tornado season this past weekend as 100+ tornadoes touched down late Saturday and early Sunday across Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.  The New York Times reports that casualties were minimal thanks to advanced warning and increased severity of warnings in the wake of last year’s unusually deadly season.  “This is a life-threatening situation. You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter,” read one Wichita, KS warning sent out this weekend.  The National Weather Service is experimenting with new, “blunter” language in an attempt to more directly convey the severity of their warnings.  It’s unclear whether the new warnings saved any lives this past weekend, or whether people are paying more attention after what happened last year, but it’s an interesting move by the NWS whose warning system has sometimes been criticized for “crying wolf.”
  • This link has gone somewhat viral over the past two weeks but, if you haven’t seen it, here is a stunning live map of US wind patterns.
  • More weather phenomena: 15 Incredible Cloud Formations
  • A year after the massive tsunami that devastated Japan last spring, the first of the debris expected to wash up on North American shores has done so.

Wednesday News and Links