The Post – Animal Deaths and Mental Shutdown

I’ve been following somewhat off and on, the massive fish and bird die-offs being mentioned in the news. I kept up with it when it was the red-winged blackbirds in Arkansas, then the additional birds in Louisiana, and even kept up with dead fish in Sweden and dead crabs on the coast of England. I was trying to create a mental picture of it all to see if there was any “connection” or “pattern” or even how they all related to each other geographically.

But if you’re like me, you can take in just so much “data” and then the mental picture evaporates, the brain seizes up, gives out one last exasperated gasp folds in on itself in a quivering mass of jelly. Needless to say, one too many animal death groups appeared in the news and suddenly, it was all one chaotic blubbering mass of info that my brain could no longer process.

At the science museum I volunteer at, we are working on displays for a new lab area. This area is called ‘visualization.’  Essentially it is the use of technology to display visually, large amounts of data points that are beyond the ability of the brain to contain, much less put in any kind of meaningful order. It is used in science and a variety of other situations where you need to review a lot of data, try to find some meaning or understandings so as to draw possible conclusions or form theories. Without these tools it would be impossible to deal with the huge about of information. To read more on this subject see the entry at Wikipedia.

Anyway, I was lost in the morass that was a growing number of reports of mass animal deaths around the world. Enter the amazing tool that is Google Maps and lo, there is salvation. They have a map that shows all the various animal death events around the world along with a sidebar giving details.  So I share with anyone out there who wants to see the big picture but can no longer do it in your head, the Google Maps “big picture” link. Just  click here.

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