Why the U.S. has had more vice presidents than presidents

Trump is #45 but Pence is #48 – and other strange consequences of the curious office of vice president.

A map of vice-presidential birthplaces, until 2009.

Image: Library of Congress - public domain; additional graphics by Ruland Kolen
  • Initially, the vice presidency was a consolation prize for the runner-up in the Electoral College.
  • For a total of almost 38 years – about one-sixth of U.S. history – the office of vice president has been vacant.
  • As this map shows, Richard Nixon remains the only vice president to date born west of the Rockies.
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Photos: Courtesy of Let Grow

Yug, age 7, and Alia, age 10, both entered Let Grow's "Independence Challenge" essay contest.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • The coronavirus pandemic may have a silver lining: It shows how insanely resourceful kids really are.
  • Let Grow, a non-profit promoting independence as a critical part of childhood, ran an "Independence Challenge" essay contest for kids. Here are a few of the amazing essays that came in.
  • Download Let Grow's free Independence Kit with ideas for kids.
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Perhaps all atlases should be this subjective

To get a sense of faraway places, these 'atlases' let the locals give you their perspective.

A subjective map of what it's like to live in a sketchy part of the Hungarian capital: "It's not the worst part of Budapest, however it's better to keep your eyes open."

Image: Subjective Atlas, reproduced with kind permission.
  • Most atlases are terrible: nothing more than glorified road maps.
  • These 'Subjective Atlases' offer bottom-up views of places, provided by people who actually live there.
  • Each of the 12 atlases so far is unique, and surprising – but don't expect to drive by them.
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Meanwhile, Antarctica's snow is turning green

Penguin poop and climate change are fuelling the spread of 'snow algae' down the Antarctic Peninsula

Some of the areas on the Antarctic Peninsula where the snow is turning green.

Image: Nature Communications, CC BY 4.0
  • On the Antarctic Peninsula, so-called snow algae are turning the snow green.
  • The algae thrive on temperatures just above freezing, which are increasingly common.
  • Antarctica's green snow could lay the groundwork for a whole new ecosystem.

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Austria like you’ve never seen it before

And after these 10 surprising maps, the Alpine republic will never look the same again.

Image: Austrian Maps
Strange Maps
  • Austria has an almost-exclave, connected to the motherland via a single dot on a mountaintop.
  • Habsburgs were so fancy, they were buried in three different locations across Vienna.
  • These and other absurd and obscure facts about Austria are the subject of a highly entertaining Twitter account.
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London is a forest, and this map explores its trees

TreeTalk finds rare arboreal treasures among London's common foliage.

One of London's many thousand Norway maples, just one of over 600 tree species gathered on this interactive map.

Image: TreeTalk
Strange Maps
  • The world's largest urban forest, London counts nearly as many trees as it does people.
  • TreeTalk identifies about 700,000 of them, both common species and rarities.
  • Explore them yourself, or have the algorithm pick out a route from a starting point of your choice.
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Hey, methane leakers: Now we know where you live

A European start-up uses satellite data to pinpoint individual sources of abnormal methane concentration.

World map of abnormal methane emissions, thanks to a tech start-up and satellite data.

Image: Kayrros
Strange Maps
  • Just 100 sources of methane emit 20 megatons each year.
  • Thanks to satellite data, individual culprits can now be found.
  • The new tech could be used to police 'abnormal' methane emissions.
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