California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has been central to the US missile and rocket development and operations for decades, and from the beginning that technology's success rested on a corps of expert mathematicians, people known as computers. And from the beginning they were all women, in a time when such opportunities were few and far between. You can find pictures of them, but names have not been well-recorded ... until now. Nathalia Holt found many of those women and wrote about their experiences in her book, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. [more inside]
Graph TV uses IMDb data to visualize jumping the shark, among other things. Arrested Development. Breaking Bad. 30 Rock. Gilmore Girls. The Shield. [Via.] [more inside]
Are graphical calculators pointless? Graphical calculators are required by many college-level math courses, but they don't perform as well as mobile phones. Pedagogically, they may be less useful than a slide rule. [more inside]
R is quickly becoming the programming language for data analysis and statistics. R (an implementation of S) is free, open-source, and has hundreds of packages available. You can use it on the command-line, through a GUI, or in your favorite text editor. Use it with Python, Perl, or Java. Sweave R code into LaTeX documents for reproducible research. [more inside]
Wikirank is an analytical tool that measures the popularity of trending topics on wikipedia. You can compare up to four topics and generate nifty embeddable graphs.
Speaking of Edward Tufte (see below), sparklines are a type of information graphics characterized by their small size and data density named by Tufte. Sparklines were used by sites reporting the 2008 election and were first introduced on MeFi in 2005. There are now several ways to put sparklines on your own web site including: a simple jQuery plugin, a downloadable PHP library, a dynamic generator using a Python CGI program, and even a library for Ruby on Rails.
You used to be able to ask Edward Tufte questions on his website. He disabled the new questions part a few years ago so only a topic or two a month comes out now. But the old topics form years long conversations running to tens of thousands of words, generally polite and insightful. Here are some excellent threads: recommendations for graphing software, Book design: advice and examples, Medical information exchange: The patient, doctor, computer triangle, Evidence and assumptions in tree diagrams, Airport maps, Lists, Advice for effective analytical reasoning, a celebration of Megan Jaegerman's news graphics, Design of causal diagrams, the merits of ISO paper sizes.
Trackulous - Track Anything. There have to be ten dozen ways to track your weight online. MeFi users track thteir social athletic accomplishments at WeEndure and Runner+. But what if we wanted to track (and graph) Javelinas Sighted, Cookies Tossed, Fights with Boyfriend, or any other user-defined numerical quantity over time? And what if we wanted to share our statistics with our friends? For that, Trackulous - a simple, elegant, mobile-friendly web tool.
Lastgraph takes your username at Last.fm and generates a beautiful chart of your musical listening habits. [via] [more inside]