Will Dean's Ideas Factory: Everything you wanted to know about your city

 

This column previously covered a neat experiment that was using open data for London's air quality to point out automatically areas of iffy air quality on Twitter.

Researchers and developers at University College London's innovative Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (Casa) have worked on a similar if more ambitious basis to create CityDashboard.

Their creations extract data from a variety of data feeds to create living profiles of cities around the UK. There are dashboards available for Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester and Newcastle.

The amount of information available on each depends on the relevant local feeds. "London's Datastore [data.london.gov.uk] has led the way to London being a great city for open data access," explains Ollie O'Brien, one of the Casa researchers behind the project. As such, the London board with TfL, Tube, live-traffic and bike-sharing data looks a lot busier, but thanks to figures from ScotRail, Defra and others, the dashboards for the other cities are pretty handy too (the Casa team are hoping to expand the others).

I asked O'Brien what the dashboard can be used for. "CityDashboard is an attempt to visualise a city's current state," he explained, via email. "By seeing a wide set of data on their city on a single screen, the hope is that local residents, commuters and visitors will be able to, at a glance, get a feel for how their city is doing – what people locally are talking about, how happy they are, what the weather is like and how their transport is moving."

citydashboard.org

World's slowest experiment is not one for drips

It's the scientific equivalent of the 639-year-long recital of John Cage's "As Slow As Possible" (a performance of which in Germany is currently in its 11th year and with a new note due on 5 July). In 1927, Professor Thomas Parnell, the first physics professor at Australia's University of Queensland, decided to create an experiment to demonstrate the surprising properties of everyday objects.

In this case, he wanted to demonstrate that pitch, a derivative of tar which looks and feels solid (and can even be smashed with a hammer), can actually display the properties of a liquid. Parnell took a heated-up sample of pitch, put it into a sealed funnel for three years and then removed the seal to see whether the pitch would drip (see picture).

And did it? Yes, except it dripped at such a slow rate that now, 85 years later, the pitch-drop experiment's ninth drip is only just beginning to form.

Thankfully, modern technology makes monitoring the drips easier than in Parnell's day – the university has set up a live webcam. Which, despite not much happening, is still better viewing than most things on ITV2.

Watch live!: ind.pn/longdrip

Fixing a city's coffee cup problem

It may be an uptown problem but, still, it's a problem all the same. Copenhagen, a beautiful city full of people swigging expensive cups of coffee, has a litter problem. Not from people chucking their rubbish on the floor (this is Scandinavia, after all), but from public bins being quickly "filled" by uncrushed paper cups, ie, by lots of empty space.

Blogger Sandra Hoj was sick of seeing bins surrounded by empty coffee cups, so she took decisive action, creating a tubular bin – The Test Tubes – for empty coffee cups to stack up in. On it, she wrote: "Empty Cups, minus lids."

Hoj erected them next to two bins in the city and waited to see the results. Six days later, not only had the tubes been filled (leaving the rest of the bin for other rubbish), but they'd been emptied. A success! Sort of. On day seven they'd been removed by local officials. Oh well.

classiccopenhagen.blogspot.co.uk

News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Extras
indybest
News
Joel Grey, now 82, won several awards for his role in Cabaret
people
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: SQL DBA (SSIS, ETL) - London, £60k

    £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL DBA (SSIS, ETL) - Central London, £60,000...

    Ashdown Group: 1st Line Support Analyst

    £18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: This role is a perfect opportunity for someon...

    Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

    £35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

    Freshtechit: Coldfusion Developer

    £50k ( neg) plus benefits : Freshtechit: ColdFusion roles available in Surrey ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness