Will Dean's Ideas Factory: Mapped out - the best way up (and around) the junction


Have you ever tried to get your head around Spaghetti Junction – or any of the, frankly terrifying, interchanges in the US – such as the swinging hoops of the New Jersey Turnpike and other big roads outside Newark Airport? On an ordinary map they make one's brain hurt.

A similar problem was faced by passengers on the London Underground before Harry Beck created his famous "circuit diagram" map for the Tube.

The Australian designer Cameron Booth has made a habit of tweaking existing transport maps and has taken all of the Route roads in the States and linked them in a Beck-style map, which you can see above.

A professional graphic designer based in Portland, Booth has an interesting sideproject of re- inventing maps. If you visit his site, cambooth.net, you can see his takes on the Washington DC subway; France's high-speed network and the other main American motorway network, the Interstate system.

They look great and must take an age – as Booth's detailed tutorial to making your own transport maps hints at: "Use numerical values for transformation and movement functions as much as possible, especially when you're moving things at angles other than right angles," reads one excerpt.

This fastidiousness is not only crucial, but makes his designs look fantastic too.

You can check out more of Booth's and others' transit maps at transitmaps.tumblr.com

Quit it with the lecture! The US teacher ripping up old lessons

Most people who've studied at university will be aware of the sensation of drifting off at the back of a lecture hall. This is mainly blamed on late-night high-jinks, but is it actually the lecture that's broken? That's the theory put forward in a fascinating article in Harvard University's magazine about one of its physics professors, Eric Mazur.

In the early Nineties, Mazur had been struggling to get his (very smart) students to understand simple problems – but once he allowed the class to discuss them with each other, they soon worked it out. This epiphany, Craig Lambert's article reports, led to Mazur giving lectures around the US on "peer instruction" or "interactive learning". Mazur's method managed to close the gender gap on test scores, aid knowledge retention and breed more scientists.

The system challenges the ancient idea of the student as a sponge absorbing information – even if that remains the main form of lectures in halls worldwide. Is it time for lecturers to stop with the lectures?

Read the original: ind.pn/harvlec

Take out the trash with air pressure

Cities filled with pneumatic-powered tubes that can suck away our rubbish may seem like the stuff of The Jetsons, or at least hi-tech transport. But could they provide a new way for New Yorkers (and eventually dwellers of other cities) to get rid of their garbage?

That's the view of freight expert Benjamin Miller and architect Juliette Spertus, who, reports Popular Mechanics magazine, want to build a pneumatic system for New York's High Line park (which is built on an old elevated railway). Their system is an upgrade of similar systems that exist in places such as New York's Roosevelt Island and would involve taking the park's litter down pressurised tubes attached to the bottom of the park. Whether it would work on a larger scale and is cost-efficient is up for debate, but it's a glamorous method for dealing with dirt.

Read in full at: ind.pn/nycairgarb

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