Category Archives: Graphics

Riding Light

In our terrestrial view of things, the speed of light seems incredibly fast. But as soon as you view it against the vast distances of the universe, it’s unfortunately very slow. This animation illustrates, in realtime, the journey of a photon of light emitted from the surface of the sun and traveling across a portion of the solar system, from a human perspective.

I’ve taken liberties with certain things like the alignment of planets and asteroids, as well as ignoring the laws of relativity concerning what a photon actually “sees” or how time is experienced at the speed of light, but overall I’ve kept the size and distances of all the objects as accurate as possible. I also decided to end the animation just past Jupiter as I wanted to keep the running length below an hour.

Design & Animation: Alphonse Swinehart /
Music: Steve Reich “Music for 18 Musicians”
Performed by: Eighth Blackbird /

3D flight over chaotic Martian terrain

Via ESA:

Among the most interesting landforms on Mars are features referred to as ‘chaotic terrain’. Dozens or even hundreds of isolated mountains up to 2000 m high are scattered in these extensive regions. Seen from orbit, they form a bizarre, chaotic pattern. Such terrains are found over a large area to both the west and east of Valles Marineris, the largest canyon in the Solar System. Hydraotes Chaos, showcased in this video, is a typical example of this type of landscape.

The data used to generate these images and the simulated flyover were acquired with the High Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA’s Mars Express orbiter.

This anaglyph movie can be viewed using stereoscopic glasses with red–green or red–blue filters.

Every Protest on the Planet Since 1979 On A Map

The Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) tracks news reports and codes them for 58 fields, from where an incident took place to what sort of event it was (these maps look at protests, violence, and changes in military and police posture) to ethnic and religious affiliations, among other categories. The dataset has recorded nearly 250 million events since 1979, according to its website, and is updated daily. John Beieler, a doctoral candidate at Penn State, has adapted these data into striking maps, like the one above of every protest recorded in GDELT — a breathtaking visual history lesson.

via Foreign Policy