The Botany of Empire and Emoji

Also: creating actual cyberspace, mapping New York's languages on Twitter, and bacterial electrical networks in today's 5 Intriguing Things.
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1. Mapping New York's languages, we see more Portuguese than one would expect

"We have visualised the geography of about 8.5 million geo-located tweets collected between Jan 2010 and Feb 2013. Each tweet is marked by a slightly transparent dot coloured according to the language it was written in. Language was detected using Google’s translation tools."

 

2. Creating cyberspace.

"inFORM is a Dynamic Shape Display that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way."

 

3. "The botany of empire" in the 18th century

"John Ellis (1710–1776) was the most successful plant transporter of the eighteenth century. His book, Directions for bringing over Seeds and Plants from the East-Indies and Other Distant Countries, explains his methods of collecting seeds and plants and keeping them viable on long journeys."

 

4. Some bacteria in the soil form electrical networks with tiny nanowires. And no one is really sure how this works

"Researchers and engineers would like to take advantage of this wiring. Bacteria produce electrons while respiring and use the wires to run electrons out of their little bacterial bodies. Normally the electrons build up or break down minerals in rock, but the system can also be used to clean up toxic heavy metals or to run a bacterial fuel cell."

 

5. Melrose Place with a new form of closed captioning for the "emotionally impaired."

Thanks Bibliodyssey

 

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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