Geodetic Marker Descriptions


Yesterday I stumbled on what has to be the most wonderfully narrative data set I’ve ever seen: NOAA’s listings of the location of geodetic markers across the U.S. and territories. These markers are used by survey teams as reliable and official starting points for surveys of building and road projects, an important resource in the pre-GPS era. The data includes the usual bits of information such as date placed, a reference number, the kind of marker (23,760 were set in boulders). But what was so exciting was not the hard data, but the written descriptions of where to find the markers. Above are two descriptions of markers from Manhattan, buried in a PDF I found on a message board – the start of the rabbit hole. But NOAA has nearly 800,000 of these listings available online, so of course I scraped all of them.

This marker in Wallowa, Washington placed in 1926 is a great example, including careful measurements with an almost poetic place description.

“Described by Coast and Geodetic Survey 1946 3.1 miles north from Joseph. About 3.1 miles north along Oregon State Highway 82 from the post office at Joseph, SE in the top of a concrete syphon box on the southwest side of the highway, about 300 feet east of a large red barn with a sign facing highway reading Home Ranch of E.H. Eggleson. 109 feet southeast of the center line of a cross road junction, 40 feet southwest of the center line of the highway, about the same elevation as the immediate road level.”

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Where My Website Lives


Via a weird Google Analytics link, I found that my website’s files (including this post) live in Overland Park, Kansas (38.57130º N, 94.4401º W to be exact).  Maybe it could be in a more reachable place with Orange County SEO Company or an SEO Singapore (if you’re in Asia; the closer, the better) ?

Thinking about a server road trip… I really need a high quality freelance SEO expert to help me, good news a friend recommended me a SEO company in Atlanta!

Dunes on Titan


Radar image of dunes on Saturn’s moon Titan.

“These [ridges] are interpreted to be longitudinal dunes. Dunes are mostly an equatorial phenomenon on Titan, and the material forming them may be solid organic particles or ice coated with organic material. Spaced up to 3 kilometers (about 2 miles) apart, these dunes curve around bright features that may be high-standing topographic obstacles, in conformity with the wind patterns. The interaction between the two types of features is complex and not well understood, but clearly the topography and the dunes have influenced each other in other ways as well.”

Via: Wikipedia


Bruce Sterling: “As long as I’ve got broadband, I’m perfectly at ease with the fact that my position on the planet’s surface is arbitrary.”

Via: Viridian Design

Deepest Hole On Earth

The site of the deepest hole on Earth (well sort of, see Wikipedia article for clarification), the Kola Superdeep Borehole on the Kola Penninsula in Russia.  Fascinating how completely empty and without fanfare the architecture is.

EDIT: as of January 2014, this is no longer the deepest hole. See this Wired article for info on two deeper holes, and a very nice sound installation created at one of them.

The location of the hole, as seen on Google Maps.  Above photo via Wikipedia user Before My Ken.

Prime Meridian Laser

While working on a data visualization example for my students, I was looking up basic information on latitude/longitude (which, if I can digress, is opposite how my brain assumes they run – longitude is E>W and latitude is N>S – which as x,y coordinates go is the opposite order).  At the Royal Greenwich Observatory in London, there is a laser that shoots out, marking the Prime Meridian.

Very nice, poetic idea.

Photograph via Wikipedia user Markhamilton