Today’s chart is best viewed full-screen. Explore the high resolution version by clicking here.
Sailors have been circumnavigating the high seas for centuries now, but what could be found beneath the sunlit surface of the ocean remained a mystery until far more recently. In fact, it wasn’t until 1875, during the Challenger expedition, that humanity got it’s first concete idea of how deep the ocean actually was.
Today’s graphic, another fantastic piece by xkcd, is a unique and entertaining look at everything from Lake Superior’s ice encrusted shoreline down to blackest, inhospitable trench (which today bears the name of the expedition that first discovered it).
The graphic is packed with detail, so we’ll only highlight a few points of interest.
Deep Thoughts with Lake Baikal
Deep in Siberia, abutting a mountainous stretch of the Mongolian border, is the one of the most remarkable bodies of water on Earth: Lake Baikal. There are a number of qualities that make Lake Baikal stand out.
Depth: Baikal, located in a massive continental rift, is the deepest lake in the world at 1,642m (5,387ft). That extreme depth holds a lot of fresh water. In fact, an estimated 22% of all the world’s fresh water can be found in the lake.
Age: Baikal (which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is estimated to be over 25 million years old, making it the most ancient lake on the planet.
Clarity: Interestingly, the water in the lake is exceptionally clear. In winter, visibility can extend over 30m (98ft) below the surface.
Biodiversity: The unique ecosystem of Lake Baikal provides a home for thousands of plant and animal species. In fact, upwards of 80% of those species are endemic, meaning they are unique to that region.
Who is Alvin?
Since 1964, a hard-working research submersible named Alvin has been helping us better understand the deep ocean. Alvin explored the wreckage of RMS Titanic in 1986, and helped confirm the existence of black smokers (one of the weirdest ecosystems in the world). Though most of the components of the vessel have been replaced and upgraded over the years, it’s still in use today.
The ancient Greek word, ábyssos, roughly means “unfathomable, bottomless gulf”. While there is a bottom (the abyssopelagic zone comprises around 75% of the ocean floor), the enormous scale of this ecosystem is certainly unfathomable.
Objectively, the abyssal plain is not the prettiest part of the ocean. It’s nearly featureless, and lacks the panache of, say, a coral reef, but there are still some very compelling reasons we’re eager to explore it. Resource companies are chiefly interested in polymetallic nodules, which are essentially rich manganese formations scattered about on the sea bottom.
Manganese is already essential in steel production, but demand is also getting a substantial lift from the fast-growing electric vehicle market. The first company to find an economical way to harvest nodules from the ocean floor could reap a significant windfall.
Drill Baby, Drill
Demand for resources can force humans into some very inhospitable places, and in the case of Deepwater Horizon, we chased oil to a depth even surpassing the famed Marianas Trench.
Drilling that far below the surface is a complicated endeavor, and when the drill platform was put into service in 2001, it was hailed as an engineering marvel. To this day, Deepwater Horizon holds the record for the deepest offshore hole ever made.
After the rig’s infamous explosion and subsequent spill in 2010, that record may stand the test of time.
Visualizing the Origin of Elements
You’re likely familiar with the periodic table, but do you know the origin of elements? This graphic shows where our solar system’s elements come from.
Visualizing the Origin of Elements
Most of us are familiar with the periodic table of elements from high school chemistry. We learned about atoms, and how elements combine to form chemical compounds. But perhaps a lesser-known aspect is where these elements actually come from.
Today’s periodic table showing the origin of elements comes to us from Reddit user u/only_home, inspired by an earlier version created by astronomer Jennifer Johnson. It should be noted that elements with multiple sources are shaded proportionally to reflect the amount of said element produced from each source.
Let’s dive into the eight origin stories in more detail.
The Big Bang
The universe began as a hot, dense region of radiant energy about 14 billion years ago. It cooled and expanded immediately after formation, creating the lightest and most plentiful elements: hydrogen and helium. This process also created trace amounts of lithium.
Low Mass Stars
At the beginning of their lives, all stars create energy by fusing hydrogen atoms to form helium. Once the hydrogen is depleted, stars fuse helium into carbon and expand to become red giants.
From this point on, the journey of a low and a high mass star differs. Low mass stars reach a temperature of roughly one million kelvin and continue to heat up. Outer layers of helium and hydrogen expand around the carbon core until they can no longer be contained by gravity. These gas layers, known as a planetary nebula, are ejected into space. It is thought that a low mass star’s death creates many heavy elements such as lead.
Exploding White Dwarfs
In the wake of this planetary nebula expulsion, a carbon core known as a “white dwarf” remains with a temperature of about 100,000 kelvin. In many cases, a white dwarf will simply fade away.
Sometimes, however, white dwarfs gain enough mass from a nearby companion star to become unstable and explode in a Type 1a supernova. This explosion likely creates heavier elements such as iron, nickel, and manganese.
Exploding Massive Stars
Massive stars evolve faster and generate much more heat. In addition to forming carbon, they also create layers of oxygen, nitrogen, and iron. When the core contains only iron, which is stable and compact, fusion ceases and gravitational collapse occurs. The star reaches a temperature of over several billion kelvin—resulting in a supernova explosion. Astronomers speculate that a variety of elements, including arsenic and rubidium, are formed during such explosions.
Exploding Neutron Stars
When a supernova occurs, the star’s core collapses, crushing protons and neutrons together into neutrons. If the mass of a collapsing star is low enough—about four to eight times that of the sun—a neutron star is formed. In 2017, it was discovered that when these dense neutron stars collide, they create heavier elements such as gold and platinum.
Cosmic Ray Spallation
The shockwaves from supernova explosions send cosmic rays, or high energy atoms/subatomic particles, flying through space. When these cosmic rays hit another atom at nearly the speed of light, they break apart and form a new element. The elements of lithium, beryllium, and boron are products of this process.
Supernova explosions also create very heavy elements with unstable nuclei. Over time, these nuclei eject a neutron or proton, or a neutron decays into a proton and electron. This process is known as radioactive decay and often creates lighter, more stable elements such as radium and francium.
Not Naturally Occurring
There are currently 26 elements on the periodic table that are not naturally occurring; instead, these are all created synthetically in a laboratory using nuclear reactors and particle accelerators. For example, plutonium can be created when fast-moving neutrons collide with a common uranium isotope in a nuclear reactor.
Discoveries Yet to be Made
There is still some uncertainty as to where elements with a middle-range atomic number—neither heavy nor light—come from. As scientific breakthroughs emerge, we will continue to learn more about the elements that make up the mass of our solar system.
Visualizing the Daily Routines of Famous Creative People
The eclectic daily routines that inspired the world’s most famous creative people to produce their best and most original work.
Visualizing the Daily Routines of Famous Creative People
Creative people have a reputation for circumventing convention.
After all, if creatives always did things the same way as everyone else, how could they ever produce anything original and truly unique?
While it’s not always easy to do things differently, the most famous creative people throughout history have almost always followed their own paths. The end result, thankfully for us, is a wealth of original art that has served to inspire generation upon generation.
Time Well Spent
Today’s chart comes to us from Podio and it breaks down the daily routines of famous creative people, such as Pablo Picasso, Mozart, Maya Angelou, or Benjamin Franklin.
We highly recommend the interactive version which allows you to highlight segments of the chart to see more specific details on the routines of each creative person.
It’s also worth noting that the routines listed don’t necessarily represent the exact everyday activities for the listed creatives – instead, they are representations of what’s been recorded in diaries, journals, letters, or other literature by these greats themselves.
Finally, most of the data comes from the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey.
Unconventional Habits of Creative Geniuses
Here are some of the creatives that had some of the most unusual and eccentric routines:
Ludwig van Beethoven
The famous German composer and pianist was a coffee addict, and would count exactly 60 beans for each cup of joe he consumed.
The novelist would have strong bouts of insomnia and often hallucinated. This condition shaped his creative process, and he stated in his journal that he only knew the type of writing in which “fear [kept him] from sleeping”.
Honoré de Balzac
The French novelist and playwright “[went] to bed at six or seven in the evening, like the chickens” and started working just after midnight. When he worked, he wore “Moroccan slippers” and a “notorious white monkish robe with a belt of Venetian gold”. In his defense, with this type of routine, he was able to write 85 novels in 20 years.
The English-American poet took Benzedrine – an amphetamine – every morning for 20 years as a systematic part of his routine and creative process. He balanced its use with the barbiturate Seconal, for when he wanted to sleep. He called amphetamines a “labor-saving device” that gave direct energy to his work.
The French poet, novelist, and dramatist, best known for penning Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, had very busy and eclectic days.
His breakfast would include coffee and two raw eggs, and after working for a few hours in the morning, he would take an ice bath on the roof. In the afternoon, he would try to fit in a quick visit with his barber, a date with his mistress, and also some strenuous exercise. In the evening, he would write some more, and then play cards and go out with friends.
The Reputation Lives On
Rightfully or wrongfully deserved, the reputation of creative geniuses for doing things differently is something that will likely continue to live on – and the rest of the world will likely pass judgement so long as they continue to receive the fruits of their labors.
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