Late historian's 3D map of Notre Dame can help France restore it to impressive detail
Digitally recording historical sites could serve as insurance in the case of disaster.
- Notre Dame, France's famous medieval cathedral, was severely damaged by a fire on Monday.
- Fortunately, at least two recent projects have taken detailed 3D scans of the cathedral, which could help in restoration efforts.
- As laser-scanning and digital imaging technology gets cheaper, some suggest we should digitally record historical sites in the event they get damaged, or worse.
A fire destroyed Notre Dame's spire and wooden roof on Monday, causing devastating and possibly irreparable damage to the famous 856-year-old cathedral.
"It was one of the oldest — until today — surviving roofs of that kind," Robert Bork, an architectural historian at the University of Iowa, told Wired. "It's incomparable."
But some are hoping that recently compiled digital representations of Notre Dame could help France reconstruct it in the coming years. One such case digitally capturing Notre Dame came from the makers of "Assassin's Creed Unity," a video game released in 2014, whose designers took on the lofty challenge of recreating the exterior of the 856-year-old medieval cathedral for the game.
"We were able to find a lot of blueprints showing us exactly how Notre Dame was constructed," said Caroline Miousse, a senior game artist, in a 2014 blog post from Ubisoft. "But it also really just helped me a lot to talk to people. It's very difficult to take a big picture of Notre Dame and capture every single detail. You really have to take a bunch of pictures of everything and put them all together like a puzzle."
However, the most detailed imaging comes from the late art and architectural historian Andrew Tallon, who spent years using laser scanners to capture virtually every detail of the cathedral's interior and exterior. Laser scanners work by shooting beams and measuring how long it takes for the light pulse to travel from the device, to the object, and back.
Tallon, who passed away on November 16, 2018, had a specific way of compiling this massive amount of data, one that resulted in stunning 3D images.
"Each time he makes a scan, he also takes a spherical panoramic photograph from the same spot that captures the same three-dimensional space," wrote Rachel Hartigan Shea for National Geographic. "He maps that photograph onto the laser-generated dots of the scan; each dot becomes the color of the pixel in that location in the photograph."
Conserving world heritage sites with 3D mapping
Image source: Google / CyArk
Thanks to the Tallon's work, France might be able to reconstruct the spire and roof of Notre Dame in a way that resembles and respects the original design. Other groups have also been busy scanning world heritage sites in an effort to conserve the structures in the event of damage, or total destruction. One such group is CyArk, a conservation nonprofit whose mission is to "digitally record, archive and share the world's most significant cultural heritage and ensure that these places continue to inspire wonder and curiosity for decades to come."
In 2018, Google partnered with CyArk on a project that aims to capture digital representations of historical sites, and to eventually make them accessible to the public on the Google Arts & Culture platform.Chance Coughenour, Program Manager at Google Arts & Culture said "with modern technology, we can capture these monuments in fuller detail than ever before, including the color and texture of surfaces alongside the geometry captured by the laser scanners with millimeter precision in 3D. Detailed scans can also be used to assist restoration efforts."
- Silver lining: Late art historian's work, 'Assassin's Creed' could help ... ›
- Notre Dame Cathedral fire: How a video game and 3D laser scans ... ›
- Fortunately, There Are Incredible 3D Scans of Notre Dame ›
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
- Push Past Negative Self-Talk: Give Yourself the Proper Fuel to Attack the World, with David Goggins, Former NAVY SealIf you've ever spent 5 minutes trying to meditate, you know something most people don't realize: that our minds are filled, much of the time, with negative nonsense. Messaging from TV, from the news, from advertising, and from difficult daily interactions pulls us mentally in every direction, insisting that we focus on or worry about this or that. To start from a place of strength and stability, you need to quiet your mind and gain control. For former NAVY Seal David Goggins, this begins with recognizing all the negative self-messaging and committing to quieting the mind. It continues with replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones.
Is this proof of a dramatic shift?
- Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
- Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
- A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses
Dramatic and misleading
Image: Reddit / SICResearch
The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.
Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.
The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.
Let's zoom in:
- It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
- By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
- Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
- In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
- Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
- By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.
Image source: Reddit / SICResearch
This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?
- "The end is near."
- "The idiocracy grows."
- "(It's) like a spreading disease."
- "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
- "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
- "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
- "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
- "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."
Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:
- "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
- "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
- "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
- "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."
"Old people learning to Google"
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)
But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:
- "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
- "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
- "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
- "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."
A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.
The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.
One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.
Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.
It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.
CNN, Fox and MSNBC
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison
For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):
- Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
- MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
- CNN: 706,000 (-9%)
And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
- Master Execution: How to Get from Point A to Point B in 7 Steps, with Rob Roy, Retired Navy SEALUsing the principles of SEAL training to forge better bosses, former Navy SEAL and founder of the Leadership Under Fire series Rob Roy, a self-described "Hammer", makes people's lives miserable in the hopes of teaching them how to be a tougher—and better—manager. "We offer something that you are not going to get from reading a book," says Roy. "Real leaders inspire, guide and give hope."Anybody can make a decision when everything is in their favor, but what happens in turbulent times? Roy teaches leaders, through intense experiences, that they can walk into any situation and come out ahead. In this lesson, he outlines seven SEAL-tested steps for executing any plan—even under extreme conditions or crisis situations.
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