Lost & Found News: Human Migration, Solar Impulse, Discerning Dogs

News to ponder that you may have missed:

Lost:  Holiday Vacation Travel to Human Migration Mapping

When someone says “holiday vacation travel” what comes to mind?

Do you envision new sights and familiar haunts?  Do you remember the hustle bustle, joys and frustrations of moving luggage and people from point A to point B?  Do you think of the countless faces of those known and unknown who become an indelible part of your mental snapshots of certain times and places?

But when someone says ” human migration mapping,” what comes to mind?

Do you remember of the eager anticipation and secret dreads of your own travels home to be with friends and family?  Do you envision smiling faces, colorful celebrations, parades with dragons, banners of red and gold and delicious food?

Or, do you think smart phones, location positioning apps and heat mapping imagery?

Here is an image of an interactive “heat map” that traced the trips of individual cell/app travelers during the Chinese Lunar New Year and Spring Festival which covered about 40 days worth of travel in China during February and March 2015.

Human Migration Mapping
The Baidu Migration interactive map posted online by the Chinese Internet portal Baidu Photo: qianxi.baidu.com via Telegraph.co.uk

This was all the media rage a few weeks ago.  Did you see the image then?  Did you watch it change and grow?

“You’re basically looking at the serious intensity of travel in this holiday. It’s not just the world’s biggest human migration, it’s the biggest mammalian migration,” Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo said.

Admittedly, heat mapping is fascinating stuff.  Watching a segment of the biggest “mammalian migration” (estimated at 3.4 billion trips), in real-time, is compellingly addictive in the digital age.  But all those lines represent real people traveling to be with friends and family.  Let’s not forget the wonderful celebrations of family and community that heralded The Year of the Goat, 2015.

When we allow the media to focus on process and technology over people and purpose it alters our perceptions of cultural and community and we all lose.

After all, college students are starting to head south and hit the beaches for spring break.  Do we really want to start thinking about it as a “mammalian” or have the media fixate on what their human migration heat map would look like in real time?


Found: Solar Flight at 1.26 Solar Cells Per Mile

Solar flights have always seemed part of our destiny.  And now it’s a little closer!  The Solar Impulse, a single seat aircraft powered by the sun, set off on a historic flight around the world from Abu Dhabi this week.  It completed the first two legs of its journey.   But journeys end won’t be until sometime in July

While the prospect of solar flight sounds exciting near, the current reality still feels awkward in its dimensions and sobering in its numbers when it comes to energy sustainability.

Here are some key Solar Impulse facts to ponder:

Solar Impulse
Solar Impulse compared to Boeing 747
Weight -- 5,070 pounds (approx. 395,000 lbs less than a Boeing 747)
Capacity -- one man (400-500 passengers plus cargo less than Boeing 747)
Wingspan -- 236 feet (approx. 9 feet longer than a Boeing 747)
Power -- 17,248 ultra-efficient solar cells
Batteries -- recharge lithium batteries weighing 2077 lbs (for night-time flights)
Engines -- four electric motors
Best speed -- 25 knots, 28 mph (472 mph less than a Boeing 747.  But hey, it still beats a glider!)
Journey -- 21,700 miles (will take 25 flight days spread over 5 months)

~~compiled from Chicago Tribune – Solar-powered plane lifts off for historic 21,700-mile fuel-less trip and Solar Impulse website

While we may have to wait a bit longer for our own first solar flight, I wish all involved with the Solar Impulse a safe and successful journey!


Lost:  Discerning Dogs As Man’s Furry BFF?

Dog owners have long claimed that dogs are Man’s Best Friend.  They’ve also claimed, to considerable eye rolls by the non-dog loving population, that dogs know exactly what their human BFFs are saying and, even, thinking.

Well, dog lovers now have some backing from the researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna.  It seems, when it comes to emotions, our faces give us away.

Discerning Dogs
Experimental set-up used to test whether dogs can discriminate emotional expressions of human faces. Credit: Anjuli Barber, Messerli Research Institute
"Our study demonstrates that dogs can distinguish angry and happy expressions in humans, they can tell that these two expressions have different meanings, and they can do this not only for people they know well, but even for faces they have never seen before," says Ludwig Huber, senior author and head of the group at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna's Messerli Research Institute.

From Dogs know that smile on your face at phys.org

So now that we know dogs can read the emotions on our faces, will we still be as open in what we express to them?  Or will we start monitoring ourselves and showing our poker faces?  And once dogs know we know they know — will dogs still trust our happy face?  Or will discerning dogs no longer want to be our furry BFFs?

By the way, don’t you think that explains a whole lot about cats!  Like, they know how to read our emotions too and take great delight in playing us like fiddles…



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