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Rio Games a Success at ‘Only’ 51% Overbudget

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Rio Games a Success at 'Only' 51% Overbudget

Rio Games a Success at ‘Only’ 51% Overbudget

Will the 2016 Rio Olympic Games be remembered as a success or a failure? It’s hard to know the answer yet.

What we do know, however, is that in the bizarro world of hosting Olympic Games, the cost overruns for Rio are actually quite favorable compared to numbers from past events.

Always Overbudget

The above graphic from HowMuch.net, a cost information site, visualizes data from a recent study by Oxford University to compare the budgets of previous games.

The study found the average cost overruns for Olympic Games to be a whopping 156% from 1968 to 2016. This means that the Rio Games were a budgeting success, at least in relative terms, by ‘only’ running 51% overbudget.

It should be noted that the study accounts only for sports-related costs, such as those relating to operations or building venues. The study excludes indirect capital costs such as upgrading transport or hotel infrastructure, since data on these costs is harder to come by, and is often unreliable. Also, some Olympic Games were omitted from the study, as they did not have available public data on the costs involved.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The good news for organizers is that cost overruns, as a percentage, are generally going down.

The 1976 Summer Games in Montreal caught everyone off guard after going 720% overbudget, and the city was saddled with debt for 30 years. Lake Placid (1980), Barcelona (1992), and Lillehammer (1994) were all grossly overbudget as well with 324%, 266%, and 277% overruns respectively.

However, recent games – with the exception of Sochi (289%) – have all been pretty good as far as Olympics go. The average cost overrun since 1998 has been just 73%.

The bad news for organizers is that costs, in general, are still going way up. Organizers are just getting slightly “better” at budgeting for them.

Here are the total costs for all games in the study – note that costs are adjusted to be in 2015 terms.

Olympic Games Costs

Lastly, the ugly part for future Olympics organizers?

The study found that the budgeting problems for Olympic Games are without precedent, as far as megaprojects go:

The Olympic Games have the highest average cost overrun of any type of megaproject, at 156 percent in real terms. In comparison, Flyvbjerg et al (2002) found average cost overruns in major transportation projects of 20 percent for roads, 34 percent for large bridges and tunnels, and 45 percent for rail; Ansar et al. (2014) found 90 percent overrun for megadams.

A major difference, however, is that sometimes infrastructure projects do get built on budget. Olympic projects, on the other hand, always go overbudget by amounts that seem almost unfathomable.

And, it is only in this bizarre context that the Rio Games can be seen as a budgetary “win”.

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Maps

Every Visible Star in the Night Sky, in One Map

This striking map depicts all the stars and celestial bodies that are visible in the night sky, all on one giant backdrop.

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Every Visible Star in the Night Sky, in One Map

View the high resolution version of this incredible map by clicking here.

The stars have fascinated humanity since the beginning of civilization, from using them to track the different seasons, to relying on them to navigate thousands of miles on the open ocean.

Today, travelers trek to the ends of the Earth to catch a glimpse of the Milky Way, untouched by light pollution. However, if you’re in the city and the heavens align on a clear night, you might still be able to spot somewhere between 2,500 to 5,000 stars scattered across your field of vision.

This stunning star map was created by Eleanor Lutz, under the Reddit pseudonym /hellofromthemoon, and is a throwback to all the stars and celestial bodies that could be seen by the naked eye on Near Year’s Day in 2000.

Star Light, Star Bright

Stars have served as a basis for navigation for thousands of years. Polaris, also dubbed the North Star in the Ursa Minor constellation, is arguably one of the most influential, even though it sits 434 light years away.

Because of its relative location to the Earth’s axis, Polaris is reliably found in the same spot throughout the year—on this star map, it can be spotted in the top right corner. The Polynesian people famously followed the path of the North Star, along with wave currents, in all their way-finding journeys.

Interestingly, Polaris’ dependability is why it is commonly mistaken as the brightest star, but Sirius actually takes that crown—find it below the Gemini constellation, at the 7HR latitude and -20° longitude coordinates on the visualization. Located in the Canis Majoris constellation, Sirius burns bluish-white, and is one of the hottest objects in the universe with a surface temperature of 17,400°F (9,667°C). Sirius is nearly 40 times brighter than our Sun.

The Egyptians associated Sirius with the goddess Isis, and used its location to predict the annual flooding of the Nile. This also isn’t the only way humans have used visible stars to “predict” the future, as evidenced by the ancient practice of astrology.

Seeking Answers in the Stars

In the star map above, the orange lines denote the twelve signs of the Zodiac, each found roughly along the same band from 10° to -30° longitude. These Zodiac alignments, along with planetary movements, form the basis of astrology, which has been practiced across cultures to predict significant events. While the scientific method has widely demonstrated that astrology doesn’t hold much validity, many people still believe in it today.

The red lines on the visualization signify the constellations officially recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 1922. Its ancient Greek origins are recorded on the same map as the blue lines, from which the modern constellation boundaries are based. Here’s a deeper dive into all 88 IAU constellations:

ConstellationEnglish NameCategoryBrightest star
AndromedaChained Maiden/ PrincessCreature/ CharacterAlpheratz
AntliaAir PumpObjectα Antliae
Apus Bird of ParadiseAnimalα Apodis
♒ AquariusWater BearerCreature/ CharacterSadalsuud
AquilaEagleAnimalAltair
AraAltarObjectβ Arae
♈ AriesRamAnimalHamal
AurigaCharioteerCreature/ CharacterCapella
BoötesHerdsmanCreature/ CharacterArcturus
CaelumEngraving ToolObjectα Caeli
CamelopardalisGiraffeAnimalβ Camelopardalis
♋ CancerCrabAnimalTarf
Canes VenaticiHunting DogsAnimalCor Caroli
Canis MajorGreat DogAnimalSirius
Canis MinorLesser DogAnimalProcyon
♑ CapricornusSea GoatCreature/ CharacterDeneb Algedi
CarinaKeelObjectCanopus
CassiopeiaSeated QueenCreature/ CharacterSchedar
CentaurusCentaurCreature/ CharacterRigil Kentaurus
CepheusKingCreature/ CharacterAlderamin
CetusSea MonsterCreature/ CharacterDiphda
ChamaeleonChameleonAnimalα Chamaeleontis
CircinusCompassObjectα Circini
ColumbaDoveAnimalPhact
Coma BerenicesBernice's HairCreature/ Characterβ Comae Berenices
Corona AustralisSouthern CrownObjectMeridiana
Corona BorealisNorthern CrownObjectAlphecca
CorvusCrowAnimalGienah
CraterCupObjectδ Crateris
CruxSouthern CrossObjectAcrux
CygnusSwanAnimalDeneb
DelphinusDolphinAnimalRotanev
DoradoSwordfishAnimalα Doradus
DracoDragonCreature/ CharacterEltanin
EquuleusLittle HorseAnimalKitalpha
EridanusRiverObjectAchernar
FornaxFurnaceObjectDalim
♊ GeminiTwinsCreature/ CharacterPollux
GrusCraneAnimalAlnair
HerculesHerculesCreature/ CharacterKornephoros
HorologiumPendulum ClockObjectα Horologii
HydraFemale Water SnakeCreature/ CharacterAlphard
HydrusMale Water SnakeCreature/ Characterβ Hydri
IndusIndianCreature/ Characterα Indi
LacertaLizardAnimalα Lacertae
♌ LeoLionAnimalPraecipua
Leo MinorLesser LionAnimalRegulus
LepusHareAnimalArneb
LibraScalesObjectZubeneschamali
LupusWolfAnimalα Lupi
LynxLynxAnimalα Lyncis
LyraLyreObjectVega
MensaTable MountainObjectα Mensae
MicroscopiumMicroscopeObjectγ Microscopii
MonocerosUnicornCreature/ Characterβ Monocerotis
MuscaFlyAnimalα Muscae
NormaCarpenter's SquareObjectγ2 Normae
OctansOctantObjectν Octantis
OphiuchusSerpent BearerCreature/ CharacterRasalhague
OrionHunterCreature/ CharacterRigel
PavoPeacockAnimalPeacock
PegasusWinged HorseCreature/ CharacterEnif
PerseusHeroCreature/ CharacterMirfak
PhoenixPhoenixCreature/ CharacterAnkaa
PictorPainter's EaselObjectα Pictoris
♓ PiscesFishesAnimalAlpherg
Piscis AustrinusSouthern FishCreature/ CharacterFomalhaut
PuppisSternObjectNaos
PyxisMariner's CompassObjectα Pyxidis
ReticulumReticle (Eyepiece)Objectα Reticuli
SagittaArrowObjectγ Sagittae
♐ SagittariusArcherCreature/ CharacterKaus Australis
♏ ScorpiusScorpionAnimalAntares
SculptorSculptorCreature/ Characterα Sculptoris
ScutumShieldObjectα Scuti
SerpensSerpentAnimalUnukalhai
SextansSextantObjectα Sextantis
♉ TaurusBullAnimalAldebaran
TelescopiumTelescopeObjectα Telescopii
TriangulumTriangleObjectAtria
Triangulum AustraleSouthern TriangleObjectβ Trianguli
TucanaToucanAnimalα Tucanae
Ursa MajorGreat BearAnimalAlioth
Ursa MinorLittle BearAnimalPolaris
VelaSailsObjectγ2 Velorum
♍ VirgoMaidenCreature/ CharacterSpica
VolansFlying FishAnimalβ Volantis
VulpeculaFoxAnimalAnser

(Source: International Astronomical Union)

Into the Depths of Deep Space

The quirk of naming stars after flora and fauna doesn’t end there. Our night sky also reveals visible galaxies, nebulae, and clusters far, far away—but they’re named after familiar birds, natural objects, and mythical creatures. See if you can find some of these interesting names:

  • Open Cluster: Wild Duck Cluster
  • Open Cluster: Eagle Nebula
  • Open Cluster: Beehive Cluster
  • Open Cluster: Butterfly Cluster
  • Emission Nebula: North American
  • Emission Nebula: Trifid Nebula
  • Emission Nebula: Lagoon Nebula
  • Emission Nebula: Orion Nebula
  • Open Cluster with Emission Nebula: Swan Nebula
  • Open Cluster with Emission Nebula: Christmas Tree Cluster
  • Open Cluster with Emission Nebula: Rosette Nebula
  • Globular Cluster: Hercules Cluster

There’s an interesting concentration of unnamed open and globular clusters just above the Sagittarius constellation, between 18-20HR latitude and -20° to -30° longitude. Another one can be seen next to Cassiopeia, just below Polaris between 1HR-3HR latitude, at 60° longitude. The only two visible spiral galaxies, Andromeda and Pinwheel, are located close between 0-2HR latitude and 30°-40° longitude.

The Relentless Passage of Time

We now know that the night sky isn’t as static as people used to believe. Although it’s Earth’s major pole star today, Polaris was in fact off-kilter by roughly 8° a few thousand years ago. Our ancestors saw the twin northern pole stars, Kochab and Pherkad, where Polaris is now.

This difference is due to the Earth’s natural axial tilt. Eight degrees may not seem like much, but because of this angle, the constellations we gaze at today are the same, yet completely different from the ones our ancestors looked up at.

If you liked exploring this star map, be sure to check out the geology of Mars from the same designer.

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History

The Shape of the World, According to Old Maps

What did ancient maps look like, before we had access to airplanes and satellites? See the evolution of the world map in this nifty infographic.

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The Shape of the World, According to Ancient Maps

A Babylonian clay tablet helped unlock an understanding for how our ancestors saw the world.

Dating all the way back to the 6th century BCE, the Imago Mundi is the oldest known world map, and it offers a unique glimpse into ancient perspectives on earth and the heavens.

While this is the first-known interpretation of such a map, it would certainly not be the last. Today’s visualization, designed by Reddit user PisseGuri82, won the “Best of 2018 Map Contest” for depicting the evolving shapes of man-made maps throughout history.

AD 150: Once Upon A Time in Egypt

In this former location of the Roman Empire, Ptolemy was the first to use positions of latitude and longitude to map countries into his text Geographia. After these ancient maps were lost for centuries, Ptolemy’s work was rediscovered and reconstructed in the 15th century, serving as a foundation for cartography throughout the Middle Ages.

Ptolemy World Map

1050: Pointing to the Heavens

The creation of this quintessential medieval T-and-O Beatine map is attributed not to an unknown French monk, but to the Spanish monk Beatus of Liébana. Although it shows several continents—Africa, Asia, and Europe—its main objective was to visualize Biblical locations. For example, because the sun rises in the east, Paradise (The Garden of Eden) can be seen pointing upwards and towards Asia on the map.

1154: The World Turned Upside Down

The Arabic geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi made one of the most advanced medieval world maps for King Roger II of Sicily. The Tabula Rogeriana, which literally translates to “the book of pleasant journeys into faraway lands”, was ahead of the curve compared to contemporaries because it used information from traveler and merchant accounts. The original map was oriented south-up, which is why modern depictions show it upside down.

Tabula Rogeriana

1375: The Zenith of Medieval Map Work

The Jewish cartographer Abraham Cresques created the most important map of the medieval period, the Catalan Atlas, with his son for Prince John of Aragon. It covers the “East and the West, and everything that, from the Strait [of Gibraltar] leads to the West”. Many Indian and Chinese cities can be identified, based on various voyages by the explorers Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville.

After this, the Age of Discovery truly began—and maps started to more closely resemble the world map as we know it today.

1489: Feeling Ptolemy and Polo’s Influences

The 15th century was a radical time for map-makers, once Ptolemy’s geographical drawings were re-discovered. Henricus Martellus expanded on Ptolemaic maps, and also relied on sources like Marco Polo’s travels to imagine the Old World. His milestone map closely resembles the oldest-surviving terrestrial globe, Erdapfel, created by cartographer Martin Behaim. Today, it’s preserved at the Yale University archives.

1529: A Well-Kept Spanish Secret

The first ever scientific world map is most widely attributed to the Portuguese cartographer Diego Ribero. The Padrón Real was the Spanish Crown’s official and secret master map, made from hundreds of sailors’ reports of any new lands and their coordinates.

Ribero 1529

1599: The Wright Idea

English mathematician and cartographer Edward Wright was the first to perfect the Mercator projection—which takes the Earth’s curvature into consideration. Otherwise known as a Wright-Molyneux world map, this linear representation of the earth’s cylindrical map quickly became the standard for navigation.

1778-1832: The Emergence of Modern World Maps

The invention of the marine chronometer transformed marine navigation—as ships were now able to detect both longitude and latitude. Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, a French geographer, was responsible for the 18th century’s highly accurate world maps and nautical charts. His designs favored functionality over the decorative flourishes of cartographers past.

Finally, the German cartographer and lawyer Adolf Stieler was the man behind Stieler’s Handatlas, the leading German world atlas until the mid-20th century. His maps were famous for being updated based on new explorations, making them the most reliable map possible.

Is There Uncharted Territory Left?

It is worth mentioning that these ancient maps above are mostly coming from a European perspective.

That said, the Islamic Golden Age also boasts an impressive cartographic record, reaching its peak partially in thanks to Muhammad al-Idrisi in the 11th century. Similarly, Ancient Chinese empires had a cartographic golden age after the invention of the compass as well.

Does this mean there’s nothing left to explore today? Quite the contrary. While we know so much about our landmasses, the undersea depths remain quite a mystery. In fact, we’ve explored more of outer space than we have 95% of our own oceans.

If you liked the visualization above, be sure to explore the world’s borders by age, broken down impressively by the same designer.

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