Another great find by OPB’s Vince Patton: Check out this BBC tool for sizing up historic places and events. The mapping program overlays your zip code (or any other you choose) with the size and shape of icons such as the Twin Towers, the moon, the Great Wall of China or the Burning Man festival.
The idea behind the “Dimensions” project is to give these things a “human scale.” For example, you can compare the size of the 2010 Gulf oil spill or the Pacific garbage patch to your county and state (as in the map above). The site has an entire “Environmental Disasters” section that will create similar maps to illustrate the relative size of the Chernobyl radiation cloud, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the toxic cloud released at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, and the 2010 floods in Pakistan.
NPR’s Robert Krulwich wrote about the site in 2010, saying:
“When we read news stories, we often lack a sense of scale. We read about oil spills, we read about natural disasters in Pakistan and we have a vague idea of what went on, but we often wonder “How big was that, really?” And now, I am pleased to tell you, there’s a website that answers that question.”