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A Visual Guide to the Women Venus's Geography Is Named For

When space tourism is in full swing, you’ll need to know how to get around foreign planets. One designer is already making maps to guide us.

Scientist and information designer Eleanor Lutz, a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Washington’s biology program, has previously mapped Mars, turned viruses into trading cards, and made an animated guide to North American butterflies. Her latest infographic is a map of Venus, but it includes more than just a guide to the second planet’s topography. Almost all the features on Venus are named after women, mythological and real, and Lutz’s map explains where these perhaps unfamiliar names come from.

Venus may have had oceans in its distant past, but if they did exist, they have long since evaporated, leaving a boiling hot world with a crushing carbon dioxide atmosphere. That leaves a lot of topography to cover—chasms, craters, mountains, plains, valleys, and more. According to the conventions adopted by the International Astronomical Union, these features are named after specific groups of women, largely mythological. (You’ll notice that a few features are named for men; these were named before the women-only convention was established.)

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Chasms, for instance, are named after moon and hunt goddesses, while high plains are named for various goddesses of prosperity. Only a few features are named for real women—large craters are named after famous women like Beatrix Potter or the Chinese physician Shih Mai-Yu, while small craters have generic female names like Roxanna, Lillian, and Miriam. The public got to suggest some of these names back in 1991, the year after the Magellan spacecraft arrived at the planet, and the monikers were subsequently approved by the International Astronomical Union.

Lutz has color- and symbol-coded the guide to the names of the planet’s features: red is for small craters named with common names; a circle with a cross in it marks steep slopes named after goddesses of the hearth and home; and yellow is for craters named for famous women. Each feature on the map is marked by its name and who that person was or what mythology they come from. Carmenta Farra, a pancake-like feature on the planet, is named for the Roman goddess of springs. The oval topographical feature Xquiq Corona is named after a Mayan fertility goddess. Toci Tholus is a ridge honoring an Aztec earthquake goddess.

The map is incredibly intricate, so you need to really zoom in to explore it. You can buy a poster (or a phone case, or a pillow, or a tote bag) of the design on Redbubble to really pore over it. Posters start at $13.

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IA Collaborative
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Lovely Vintage Manuals Show How to Design for the Human Body
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IA Collaborative

If you're designing something for people to hold and use, you probably want to make sure that it will fit a normal human. You don't want to make a cell phone that people can't hold in their hands (mostly) or a vacuum that will have you throwing out your back every time you clean the house. Ergonomics isn't just for your office desk setup; it's for every product you physically touch.

In the mid-1970s, the office of legendary industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss created a series of manuals for designers working on products that involved the human body. And now, the rare Humanscale manuals from Henry Dreyfuss Associates are about to come back into print with the help of a Kickstarter campaign from a contemporary design firm. Using the work of original Henry Dreyfuss Associates designers Niels Diffrient and Alvin R. Tilley, the guides are getting another life with the help of the Chicago-based design consultancy IA Collaborative.

A Humanscale page illustrates human strength statistics.

The three Humanscale Manuals, published between 1974 and 1981 but long out-of-print, covered 18 different types of human-centric design categories, like typical body measurements, how people stand in public spaces, how hand and foot controls should work, and how to design for wheelchair users within legal requirements. In the mid-20th century, the ergonomics expertise of Dreyfuss and his partners was used in the development of landmark products like the modern telephones made by Bell Labs, the Polaroid camera, Honeywell's round thermostat, and the Hoover vacuum.

IA Collaborative is looking to reissue all three Humanscale manuals which you can currently only find in their printed form as historic documents in places like the Cooper Hewitt design museum in New York. IA Collaborative's Luke Westra and Nathan Ritter worked with some of the original designers to make the guides widely available again. Their goal was to reprint them at a reasonable price for designers. They're not exactly cheap, but the guides are more than just pretty decor for the office. The 60,000-data-point guides, IA Collaborative points out, "include metrics for every facet of human existence."

The manuals come in the form of booklets with wheels inside the page that you spin to reveal standards for different categories of people (strong, tall, short, able-bodied, men, women, children, etc.). There are three booklets, each with three double-sided pages, one for each category. For instance, Humanscale 1/2/3 covers body measurements, link measurements, seating guide, seat/table guide, wheelchair users, and the handicapped and elderly.

A product image of the pages from Humanscale Manual 1/2/3 stacked in a row.

"All products––from office chairs to medical devices—require designs that 'fit' the end user," according to Luke Westra, IA Collective's engineering director. "Finding the human factors data one needs to achieve these ‘fits' can be extremely challenging as it is often scattered across countless sources," he explains in a press release, "unless you've been lucky enough to get your hands on the Humanscale manuals."

Even setting aside the importance of the information they convey, the manuals are beautiful. Before infographics were all over the web, Henry Dreyfuss Associates were creating a huge compendium of visual data by hand. Whether you ever plan to design a desk chair or not, the manuals are worthy collectors' items.

The Kickstarter campaign runs from July 25 to August 24. The three booklets can be purchased individually ($79) or as a full set ($199).

All images courtesy IA Collaborative

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Theo Rindos
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Graphic Designer Visualizes America's Major Rivers as Subway Routes
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Theo Rindos

Mark Twain spent his early years navigating America's winding waterways, but the steamboat pilot-turned-author was also a fan of modern transportation: He was one of the first passengers to ride the London Underground's longest tube line—the Central Line—when it first opened in 1900. Needless to say, Twain would probably be a fan of the map below, which visualizes U.S. rivers as subway lines.

A map depicting U.S. rivers as subway routes, by graphic designer Theo Rindos
Theo Rindos
 
 
A map depicting U.S. rivers as subway routes, by graphic designer Theo Rindos
Theo Rindos

Created by graphic designer Theo Rindos (and spotted by CityLab), the map is inspired by Harry Beck's original London Tube map from the 1930s. It's based on data culled from the U.S. Geological Survey, Google Maps, and Wikipedia.

"I have always been fascinated by transit maps and river systems, and I thought, 'Why not put them together?'" Rindos tells Mental Floss. Beck's design style "has been kind of a staple for many city transit systems because it's so easy to understand and is so beautiful. The rivers of the United States are complex, and I wanted to see if I could achieve a similar outcome."

The source of each river is denoted with a solid-colored circle. White circles indicate where these waterways converge and split, and neighboring cities and towns are marked as "stations." That said, the map doesn't feature every single U.S. river: It includes ones important to the transportation and shipping sectors, but for aesthetic reasons, Rindos opted to leave out awkwardly shaped rivers and turned smaller ones into bus routes.

You can purchase Rindos' map here, or visit the designer's website to learn more about his work.

[h/t CityLab]

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