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Ear to the Ground

Map Simulates Births and Deaths the World Over

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Posted on Oct 31, 2013
Screenshot/World Births and Deaths in Real-Time (Beta)

Looking for something to put things into perspective? Check out this real-time map to remind you how transient life is, but also, how quickly the world is becoming populated.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2050, the world’s population will increase from 7 billion to more than 9 billion inhabitants at the rate at which it’s been growing over the past few decades. The immensity of these numbers piqued mathematician and software developer Brad Lyon’s interest and inspired him to design a visual that reflects this data.

Last year, Lyon joined forces with designer Bill Snebold to create an interactive simulation of births and deaths in the U.S. “Now,” says The Atlantic’s health editor James Hamblin, “Lyon takes on the world.”

Just one look at the map will give you a rough idea of how many babies are coming to life every second, and how big that number is compared with people dying. Whether that’s alarming or heartening, however, is left up to the eyes of the beholder.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

The Atlantic:

“This one for world births/deaths is certainly more overwhelming than the one for the U.S.,” Lyon told me, “and the rate at which they must be occurring gives another glimpse into how big the world is….

“What got me interested initially,” Lyon said, “was simply curiosity about what the pattern of births and deaths might be like, based on the current rates, coupled with the desire to learn more about some of the newer technologies for the web….

“The visualizations here, while pulling together some numbers,” Lyon said, “are still qualitative because we of course don’t know what the pattern is really like. However, we do know where the numbers end up, so they must get there somehow.”

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