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Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Bureau of Transportation Statistics

This 'Noise Map' Reveals the Loudest Areas in the Country

Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Houston has a problem. So does Chicago, New York, and big chunks of New Jersey. The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics recently released an interactive National Transportation Noise Map that highlights locations where you’re more likely to suffer from decibel distress, and those areas are highlighted for all of the wrong reasons.

The most common culprits in high-noise hot spots? Airports and interstates. While much of the country is subjected to a tolerable 50 decibels or less—the equivalent of a humming refrigerator—bigger cities like New York and Chicago can see up to 80 decibels, which is more akin to a rumbling garbage disposal or standing 50 feet from a passing freight train. For a comparatively quieter existence, rural locations like Twin Falls, Idaho, are mostly free of the angry red and purple blotches the map uses to indicate areas of high noise pollution.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 
The data tracks with some expected outcomes: In interstate-heavy regions like Memphis, the map flares up; Houston’s many airports (above) also account for greater noise levels.

In addition to being an annoyance, noise pollution has the potential to have adverse effects on your health, with studies linking long-term exposure to an increased risk of high blood pressure and other issues. Some perpetrators, like New Jersey's Teterboro and Newark International Airports, have recently proposed changes to help mitigate noise levels, including diverting flight paths away from hospitals and scheduling most of their traffic during daytime hours.

[h/t NPR]

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technology
Google Maps Is Getting a Makeover With More Icons and Colors
iStock
iStock

Prepare to get used to some big changes to your Google Maps app. The tech giant announced in a blog post that it’s changing the tool’s design to better highlight information that’s relevant to your journey.

The first update can be seen when switching between modes of transportation. If you’re driving from your home to work, for example, Maps will show you gas stations along your route, but switch to public transit and train stations will pop up instead.

The app’s color scheme has also been given a makeover. All points of interest (POI) that appear on the map are now color-coded. Looking for the nearest restaurant? Food and drink POI are orange. Need some retail therapy? Shopping icons are blue. Hospitals (pink), churches (gray), outdoor spaces (green), and more are included in the new system.

Within the larger categories, Google has introduced dozens of specialized icons to indicate subcategories. Banks are marked with a dollar sign, cafes with a coffee cup, etc.

“The world is an ever-evolving place,” Google Maps product manager Liz Hunt wrote in the blog post. “Now, we’re updating Google Maps with a new look that better reflects your world, right now.”

This overhaul is the latest way Google Maps is evolving to make life more convenient for its users. In the past year, the app has rolled out features that allow you to locate your parked car and to check how crowded attractions are at certain times. The new design changes will start appearing over the next few weeks.

Phones with maps app open.
Google

Color key for Google Maps.
Google

Icons for Google Maps.
Google
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Courtesy of Sotheby's
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History
Found: A Rare Map of Australia, Created During the 17th Century
Courtesy of Sotheby's
Courtesy of Sotheby's

More than 40 years before Captain James Cook landed on Australia’s eastern coast in 1770, renowned Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu created an early map of the Land Down Under. Using geographical information gleaned from Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in the 1640s, it was the first map to include the island state of Tasmania and name New Zealand, and the only one to call Australia “Nova Hollandia.”

Very few copies—if any—of the 1659 map, titled Archipelagus Orientalis (Eastern Archipelago), were thought to have survived. But in 2010, a printing was discovered in a Swedish attic. After being restored, the artifact is newly on display at the National Library of Australia, in the capital city of Canberra, according to news.com.au.

The seller’s identity has been kept under wraps, but it’s thought that the map belonged to an antiquarian bookseller who closed his or her business in the 1950s. For decades, the map sat amidst other papers and books until it was unearthed in 2010 and put up for auction.

The National Library acquired the 17th century wall map in 2013 for approximately $460,000. After a lengthy restoration process, it recently went on display in its Treasures Gallery, where it will hang until mid-2018.

As for other surviving copies of the map: a second version was discovered in a private Italian home and announced in May 2017, according to Australian Geographic. It ended up selling for more than $320,000.

[h/t news.com.au]

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