Monday, June 14, 2010

Real and virtual transportation networks


The Harvard Magazine highlights a new book that takes unique images of everyday objects.

The photo above comes from the book On the Surface of Things: Images of the Extraordinary in Science and shows aviation networks on top, and internet networks below. The similarities are more striking than the differences. Here is how the authors explain this image:
Comparing maps of communication past and present reveals parallel patterns. The upper image shows the movement of passengers on airplanes across the United States; the lower one, the flow of bits across the Internet. “It is the largest thing we have ever built,” says Whitesides, “and we have assembled it from transistors—the smallest things we know how to make. It is a chrysalis we are forming around the planet…a table where we sit to gossip, a suq where we buy and sell; a shadowy corner for planning mischief; a library holding the entire world’s information; a friend, a game, a matchmaker, a psychiatrist, an erotic dream, a babysitter, a teacher, a spy….The best and worst and most ordinary of us reflected—and perhaps distorted—in a silvery fog of bits.”


The gravity model seems to hold in the virtual world.
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