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Lightning bugs

April 27, 2010

Featured Article, Video

Airspace Rebooted from ItoWorld on Vimeo.
This video rates very high on the official coolness scale. As the video’s Vimeo page explains this is a visualisation of the northern European airspace returning to use after being closed due to volcanic ash out of Iceland. “Due to varying ash density across Europe, the first flights can be seen in some areas on the 18th and by the 20th everywhere is open. The flight data is courtesy of flightradar24.com and covers a large fraction of Europe. There are a few gaps (most noticeably France) and no coverage over the Atlantic, but the picture is still clear.”

The video is remarkable in its own right, for several reasons. First, it’s a snapshot reminder of how fragile modern life is when Mother Nature decides to, like … burp. Wham! A whole continent shuts down. Second, it’s a time-lapse panorama of the frantic rate of contemporary life as it gets back up to speed. Imagine — every one of those shooting lightning bugs is a crowded plane, filled with hundreds of  people dashing from here to there in flying metal tubes while scarfing honey-roasted nuts. (Although I think the snacks, if not the coffee, are better on European airlines.) Finally, if ever there were a visual depiction of what modern physics tells us we are truly made of — just packets of energy, flowing from here to there and there to here — here is our family portrait.



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