I grew up in New Jersey. Lawyer types are well aware that an entire doctrine of constitutional law—the dormant commerce clause—developed around my home state’s ill-fated attempts to avoid becoming the nation’s sole repository for trash. All of which is to say, I know junk.
And this weekend was full of it. For one, today’s New York Times has a nifty article about (the growing problem of) space junk, which threatens to interfere with exploration, satellites, and other productive extraterrestrial activities. There are, however, some silver linings:
Just last week, researchers at a top Swiss university, the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, announced that they were designing CleanSpace One, a sort of vacuum cleaner in the sky — an $11 million one — that will be able to navigate close to a satellite and grab it with a big claw, whereupon both will make a fiery death dive.
The Swiss have only two satellites in orbit, each smaller than a breadbox, but they are concerned about what to do with them when they stop operating in a few years.
“We want to clean up after ourselves,” said Anton Ivanov, a scientist at the institute’s space center. “That’s very Swiss, isn’t it?”
But it gets worse, alas. Acolytes of Edward Tufte know of his legendary disdain for Chartjunk: infographic adornments that waste ink and add nothing to—and often obscure—the reader’s understanding of the data.
Yesterday Mashable published an infographic about the 2012 presidential candidates’ use of social media. It contains just 30 statistics—6 candidates, 5 stats apiece—that could have easily fit in a simple table. Instead, we got this!
(Disclaimer: strong stomach required.)