Posts for Tag: graph

Speed and Kinetic Energy of Sports Pitches, Shots and Kicks

Posted In: Science | Sports

I’ve been playing (and watching) alot of soccer recently with the kids and it got me thinking about how hard the pros can kick the ball compared to us. This got me thinking about how much energy athletes can impart to a soccer ball and how that compares to balls and projectiles in other sports. This is not a scientific study, as I just googled the fastest pitch, shot, serve, kick, throw etc. from a variety of sports and the weight of the respective balls/projectiles to calculate their kinetic energy and momentum. I added in the stats for a (sort of) human projectile for comparison as well (Usain Bolt).

The graph is color coded so orange refers to projectiles that require no additional equipment, while the blue requires a bat or racket or club to aid in hitting the ball. You can toggle between log and linear scale on the x-axis to better see the differences between different projectiles.

The hammer throw is interesting because it far exceeds the kinetic energy and momentum of the other balls. If you watch a video of olympic hammer throws, you’ll see how much energy these very large, strong athletes are able to put into the throw. I think another aspect is that the top kinetic energy projectiles are all throws where there is significant acceleration of the projectile over a longer period of time rather than an instantaneous kick or hit.

Switching to the speed tab, all of the fastest projectiles are aided by equipment to achieve their very high speeds, but generally these projectiles have lower weights. This is also seen in the momentum tab, where the heavier projectiles are mostly unaided by equipment, probably because of the challenge of imparting enough momentum onto a heavy ball/projectile would require accelerating an even heavier racket/bat.

Equations and stuff

The equation for kinetic energy is \(E = {1\over2} mv^2\),
where E is kinetic energy (expressed in joules or kilojoules), m is mass and v is velocity (or speed).

The equation for momentum is \(P = mv\), where P is momentum.

The difference between momentum and kinetic energy is slightly tricky. The momentum rankings seem to prioritize the mass of the projectile while kinetic energy is a balance between speed (velocity) and mass. In kicking, throwing or hitting a ball/projectile, the player needs to put impart the energy into the ball. In a collision, total momentum of the system (player and ball) is conserved but kinetic energy is not, although total energy is (some energy may be “lost” as heat, sound, etc). In terms of being “hit” by the projectile, I believe that kinetic energy is probably more important than momentum for gauging the overall effect of the impact, but the total energy is not the only concern.The area over which the impact would occur is also important. Honestly, the table tennis (ping-pong) ball is the only one I think I’d be okay getting hit by (at least at these world record speeds).

Data sources and tools:
Mostly google for ball weights and trying to find some mention of the “fastest” throw or kick or whatever. Calculations are made using the equations above and plotted using javascript library.

College Admissions By State

Posted In: College


Real Country Sizes Shown on Mercator Projection

Posted In: Maps

I remember as a child thinking that Alaska was as large as 1/2 of the continental US. Later, however, I learned that while it is the largest state, it is actually only about 1/5 the size of the lower 48 states. My son has also remarked that Greenland is very big. And while it is very big, it’s nowhere near the size of the continent of Africa.

The map above shows the distortion in sizes of countries due to the mercator projection. Pressing on the button animates the country ‘shrinking’ to its actual size or ‘growing’ to the size shown on the mercator projection. It was inspired by a similar animation that I saw on reddit and decided I wanted to try to build the same thing.

The mercator projection is a commonly used projection on computer maps because it has perpendicular latitude and longitude lines (forming rectangles). It is formed by projecting the glob onto a cylinder A variant of the was adopted by Google maps, which helped establish it as the informal standard for web-based maps (although Google maps now uses a globe view, instead of a map projection when zooming out to a very wide view).

Areas far from the equator are distorted in terms of their distances and are shown much larger than they actually are. This is one of the major issues with a projection of a globe onto a cylinder area. This is why Greenland, Russia and Canada shrink so much in the animation, they are fairly high in latitude in the Northern Hemisphere.

This next graph shows each country plotted with their actual land area and apparent land area as shown on a Mercator projection. The further the countries are from the 1:1 line the greater the overestimate of their size from the Mercator (also color coded to be red). It is a logarithmic plot showing many different orders of magnitude in country size. The table also shows the top 10 countries whose size is overestimated (and the difference in land area in square kilometers or as a percentage reduction from the size in the Mercator projection).

As it shows, Greenland is the country that has the largest percent difference between its apparent size in a Mercator projection and it’s real size (it’s only about 1/4 of the apparent size). And Russia is the country with the largest absolute difference between these two sizes.

mercator projection real size

Data and tools: This visualization was made using the Leafletjs javascript mapping library and country shapefiles (converted to geojson). I calculated the area in two ways, one assuming latitude and longitude are rectangular coordinates (i.e. Mercator projection) and the other was the actual area. Then I calculated the latitude and longitude coordinates for the outline of the “real” size by modifying the original latitude and longitude by the ratio of these two areas to draw the new smaller, “real” country size.

Bitcoin Energy Consumption – Does It Consume More Electricity Than Your State?

Posted In: Energy | Money

This visualization looks at the staggeringly high energy use of Bitcoin and puts it into context: comparing it to electricity usage of US states. Unfortunately for Bitcoin, high energy usage is an intended feature of the system, rather than an unintended consequence. This is because mining is an increasingly energy intensive process, based upon increasingly computationally intensive calculations that are performed on high powered computers and graphical processing units.

Currently, 28 out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia all have lower electricity consumption than estimated annual bitcoin electricity consumption (~73 TWh per year). These states are highlighted in variations of yellow. This is approximately equal to the average annual electricity usage across all US States. States with higher electricity consumption than bitcoin are highlighted in shades of red.

When dividing the total energy use (73 TWh) by the current number of transactions (93 million), we get an average energy consumption of 783 kWh per transaction. Click on the “Energy per Transaction” button to see this visualization. What’s crazy is that a transaction is simply a transfer of bitcoin between “wallets”, recording the transaction, and a validation of the process. There’s no good reason why verifying digital transactions should take this much energy, except that it was built into the fundamental process of validating and mining bitcoin. 783 kWh is larger than the monthly per capita electricity consumption in 10 US states. It could also drive you and your family over 2000 miles in an electric car (e.g. Tesla Model S).

I’m not expert enough in this area to know how much more energy consumption will rise into the future, but if crypto advocates’ predictions come true and bitcoin is used extensively, millions of transactions will occur per hour instead of per year and the price of bitcoin may rise much higher than it currently is. If the price rises, then miners will be willing to expend more energy to “mine” the more valuable bitcoin. Needless to say, this sounds like a very bad idea from an energy consumption and sustainability standpoint.

Data and Tools:
State energy data comes from the US Department of Energy. Estimates of Bitcoin energy use come from Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index. The choropleth map is visualized using javascript and the Leaflet.js library with Open Street Map tiles.

bitcoin energy

Solar (Sun) Intensity By Location and Time

Posted In: Energy | Science

This visualization shows the amount of solar intensity (also called solar insolation and measured in watts per square meter) all across the globe as a function of time of day and day of year. This is an idealized calculation as it does not take into account reductions in solar intensity due to cloud cover or other things that might block the sun from reaching the earth (e.g dust and pollution).

As would be expected, the highest amount of solar intensity occurs on the globe right where the sun is overhead and as the angle of the sun lowers, the solar intensity declines. This is why the area around the equator and up through the tropics is so sunny, the sun is overhead here the most. If you click on the map you should see a popup of the intensity of sunlight at that location.

As the earth rotates over the course of a day, the angle of the sun changes and eventually the angle is so low, the sun is blocked by the horizon (this is sunset).

  • The default is to show the sunlight intensity for the current date and time but you can change it by moving the sliders for hour or day.
  • You can also toggle between the orientation of the surface that you measure the sunlight on. The default shows the intensity of sunlight on a horizontal surface. The other option shows the intensity on a surface that is oriented to face the sun (i.e. perpendicular)

Again, the intensity will depend on the angle it makes with the sun and so it depends on your location on earth (i.e. latitude). Latitudes around the equator will receive more sunlight because their angle is closer to perpendicular.

Shifting through the days of the year, you can start to see the cause of the seasons as the amount of sunlight changes and more or less sunlight goes to each of the northern and southern hemispheres.

Calculations and Tools:
The calculations for solar intensity are based on equations from “Renewable and Efficient Electric Power Systems” by Gilbert Masters Chapter 7. Calculations were made using javascript and visualized using the Leaflet.js library with Open Street Map tiles.

This was a fun project for me to learn online mapping tools and programming.

When Can I Retire? Early Retirement Calculator / FIRE Calculator

Posted In: Financial Independence | Money

How long do I need to save before I can retire?

This early retirement calculator / visualizer is designed to project the number of years until you can retire, based upon a few key inputs such as annual income and spending, income growth rate, expected annual spending in retirement and asset allocation. It is a pre-retirement calculator that is useful before you retire to get a sense of how many years it is likely to take to accumulate enough money to retire. The three primary modes that are available in the early retirement calculator are: (1) constant, single fixed-percentage real return rates, (2) historical series of real returns are applied to account for likely variability in future returns and (3) monte carlo simulation of the variable returns based upon user-specified input parameters.

This interactive calculator was built to let you play with the inputs and help you understand how savings rate and retirement spending strongly determine how long it will take you to save up for retirement. Note: it does not simulate the post-retirement period when you start to draw down your savings. That can be done on this post-retirement calculator (Rich, Broke or Dead) which compares the frequency of various outcomes in retirement (running out of money, ending up with way too much money, and life-expectancy).