(Roughly) Daily

So graphic!…

Long-time readers know that your correspondent is a sucker for nifty charts, elegant tables, and incisive visual displays of all sorts.  In the spirit of earlier-featured Jessica Hagy/Indexed and Gary Damrauer/New Math, a pointer to GraphJam, where one will find illustrated insights like:

More here.

As we attempt to keep X and Y straight in our minds, we might shudder to recall that it was on this date in 1883 that the volcano at Krakatoa (Krakatau) erupted with full force.  The sound was heard over 2,000 miles away (that’s over 7.5% of the earth’s surface– the equivalent of an explosion in New York City being heard in San Francisco); tsunamis caused by the great blast killed 36,000 people in Java and Sumatra.

But there was another sense in which Krakatoa was importantly “the sound heard ’round the world”:  While news of Lincoln’s assassination (only 18 years earlier) had taken almost two weeks to reach London,  Europe and the U.S. knew of Krakatoa in about four hours.  In the years between 1865 and 1883, there had been three interrelated developments: the global spread of the telegraph, the invention of Morse Code, and the establishment of Reuter’s news agency… and the world had become much smaller.  (C.F., Tom Standage’s marvelous The Victorian Internet for the details– both remarkable and altogether resonant with today.)

(As big as the explosion was, it was not the biggest in history: experts suggest that Santorini’s eruption in 1628 BCE was three times as powerful.)

An early 19th-century illustration of Krakatoa

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Written by LW

August 26, 2009 at 12:01 am

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