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During the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, Great Britain, France, Portugal and Spain controlled vast territories across the globe through a combination of seapower, economic control and brute force. This video from the Portuguese visualisation designers Pedro M Cruz and Penousal Machado charts the rise and fall of these four largest maritime empires, from 1776 and the American War of Independence, right up to 2009, when the once-expansive land claims of these nations barely extended beyond the European continent. The duo illustrates the centuries-long process of decolonisation as a kind of mitosis, with newly independent nations splitting off from the colonial powers. According to Cruz, the soft, cellular bodies used for the visualisation are meant to convey the ‘volatility and dynamic nature’ of these empires over time.
Jocelyn Bell discovered pulsars. The Nobel Prize went to her supervisor
Animals and humans
A bluesy ballad tells the story of Old Bet, the first circus elephant in the US
In this 1975 lecture, the maglev train’s inventor deconstructs his ingenious design
Information and communication
There are many ways to make a flat map of the world – each of them a unique distortion
What is it like to clean the world for tomorrow while the rest of a city sleeps?
The nearly forgotten origin myth of Hawaii’s third-gender healers, as told by one
A whirlwind tour of Hong Kong’s high-rises is an awesome meditation on urbanity
Sports and games
After a day’s toil in California’s fields, labourers let loose in street races
History of technology
Remarkable historical footage is locked behind paywalls. It’s time to set it free