For years after the Cold War, the stockpile of nuclear weapons has decreased. There is renewed interest in the whereabouts of nuclear weapons storage after announcements from leaders in the US and Russia about expanding or updating arsenals. It’s unclear whether either of these powers plan more bombs, though we do know the two continue to lead all other countries on numbers deployed and in storage. But where are those nuclear weapons? In the case of the United States and other nations, we can answer that question.
Los Alamos, New Mexico, is famous as the birthplace of the nuclear bomb. The Manhattan Project was housed at Los Alamos Laboratory, where the only bombs used in wartime were built. New Mexico was also home to the first nuclear weapon tests, though no weapons are known to be stored in the state. There are 10 states that are known to store nuclear weapons, as well as other labs and power plants across the country.
View Mother Jones: Nuke Facilities in the US in a full screen map
Research by magazine Mother Jones plotted locations on the BatchGeo map above from data released in 2011. While it mixes other nuclear facilities with bomb locations, you can use the grouping feature to select just the locations of nuclear weapons. Here are the locations of nuclear weapons in the United States:
- Naval Base Kitsap (Washington)
- Malstrom Air Force Base (Montana)
- Nellis Air Force Base (Nevada)
- Warren Air Force Base (Colorado and Wyoming)
- Minot Air Force Base (North Dakota)
- Pantex plant (Texas)
- Whiteman Air Force Base (Missouri)
- Barksdale Air Force Base (Louisiana)
- Naval Submarine Base (Georgia)
Many of these locations hold warheads awaiting dismantlement. More than half of the potential arsenal is in Amarillo, Texas, at the Pantex plant, which will dismantle them. There do remain some active missile silos, in Montana, North Dakota, and at Warren Air Force Base, which is in both Colorado and Wyoming.
While this data is from 2011, data suggests it’s only decreased slightly during that time. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists suggests the stockpile in the US fell by 633 between 2009 and 2016, or about 12%.
Historically, nuclear weapons are at an all time low. The trend downwards began in the mid 1980s, after a rapid increase by Russia during the Cold War. The United States arsenal peaked in 1967, though it wasn’t until the late 1970s that Russia surpassed the US. As the chart shows, all other countries barely register when compared to the United States and Russia.
Despite public gesturing by leaders of both countries, a treaty is still in place to continue decreasing United States and Russian nuclear weapons. The New START (STrategic Arms Reduction Treaty) sets limits for deployed missiles/bombers, deployed warheads, and launchers (deployed or non-deployed). According to the treaty, these limits must be met by early in 2018.
View Nuclear Weapons Worldwide in a full screen map
The Federation of American Scientists has compiled the data on many nuclear stockpile locations. Obviously missing from the map above is Russia’s weapons, though we can see some of the US arsenal stored outside of the United States. Additionally, other nuclear countries are shown, including the United Kingdom and Turkey.
The physical world is a complex place. It’s no wonder that there are so many ways to describe it using geographic data. But that data itself can be quite difficult to understand, with each format a little (or a lot) different from the others. We’ve compiled the most common data file types for GIS and other mapping data. We’ll explain how you would use each type, how you might convert them, and how they help you build a map.
Shapefile is a popular format for geographic data originally defined by Esri, the company behind ArcGIS and other GIS software. The singular “shapefile” is a misnomer, as there are actually multiple files needed to describe the geographic data in a shapefile. For every shapefile, at least three files are required:
- .shp is what gives it the name shapefile and where the geometric features are described, such as lines, points, and polygons.
- .shx is an index of the .shp file data, compiled into a binary format which makes it easier for applications like ArcGIS to access the data.
- .dbf is a database format that contains additional data that is not necessarily geographic, such as names/labels for your shapes.
While not required, another common file is .prj, which contains the projection details. This file describes how to convert three dimensional data (i.e., shapes on the earth) to a two dimensional representation.
And there’s more. Shapefiles can contain any of these files: .ain, .aih, .atx, .cpg, .ixs, .mxs, .qix, .shp.xml
To read shapefiles, you need software that understands the format. Several Esri products in the ArcGIS suite of desktop software support shapefiles, including the free ArcGIS Explorer. There is also an open source geographic data editor, QGIS, which can read and write shapefiles.
Before there was Google Maps, there was Google Earth. And before Google Earth, there was Earth Viewer, made by Keyhole, Inc., later acquired by Google. Earth View became Google Earth, and the Keyhole Markup Language became a popular format for describing geographic data.
KML, used in .kml files, is an XML-based data format. It’s moderately human readable, since XML is written in plain text. For example, here’s a single point on a map, along with some metadata associated with the location:
<Placemark> <name>Paris</name> <Point> <coordinates>2.3522219,48.856614,0</coordinates> </Point> <ExtendedData> <Data name='Flag'> <value>http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/c/c3/Flag_of_France.svg/23px-Flag_of_France.svg.png</value> </Data> <Data name='Continent'> <value>Europe</value> </Data> </ExtendedData> </Placemark>
You can create KML files with BatchGeo that have many locations and can be loaded into Google Earth or other geographic software. In addition to points, KML can include lines and shapes, as well.
KMZ files, with the .kmz extension, is a compressed version of KML. It’s a binary format meant to increase the efficiency of sharing KML files, since the size is significantly smaller.
To convert KMZ to KML:
- Rename filename.kmz to filename.zip
- Decompress the file like you would other ZIP files (usually you can just double click).
After decompressing, you should have a KML file (it may be inside a directory/folder).
A common way to generate geographic data is with a GPS device, such as Garmin, Magellan, or even a smart phone. While the output formats vary greatly, they typically describe points or lines. For individual locations, you may need to save them periodically (sometimes called waypoints). Most commonly, the entire route will be stored as a series of points.
GPX files, with a .gpx extension, is the most common of the many GPS data output formats. Like KML, it is based on XML, so it is text-based markup. GPX can contain both waypoints and tracks/routes. For tracks, there will be multiple points that describe the route. That portion of the GPX file will look something like this:
<trk> <name>Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center to Vista Point</name> <number>1</number> <trkseg> <trkpt lat="37.8077333" lon="-122.4750286"> <name>TP001</name> </trkpt> <trkpt lat="37.80771" lon="-122.47502"> <name>TP002</name> </trkpt> <trkpt lat="37.8077" lon="-122.47502"> <name>TP003</name> </trkpt> ... </trkseg> </trk>
GPX is often used to track and share a certain route, such as a hike or run. It’s also the format accepted by OpenStreetMap, a community that has used GPS traces to create a map of the world.
GPI, with a .gpi extension is a Garmin file format. It’s one of many formats that OpenStreetMap recommends converting to GPX. You can see all the GPS trace formats on the OpenStreetMap site.
Geographic data may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to spreadsheets and other tabular data formats. That said, a spreadsheet is one of the easiest files to share and remains very human-readable. For that reason, you’ll often find location data stored in Excel, Numbers, Google Sheets, or other spreadsheet formats. Alternatively, spreadsheet-equivalent formats like CSV or tab-delimited files are a way to store data without requiring a specific spreadsheet application. These can typically be imported as a spreadsheet.
Unlike other formats that are specific to geographic data, there is no schema for how locations are stored in spreadsheets. Among the conventions, however, are to have separate columns for levels of data. For example:
- State of Province
These can be turned into geographic data by geocoding the address or location data. Some geocoders require the individual location pieces, while others want a single field.
Other methods of storing geographic data are to store latitude and longitude coordinates directly, usually in two columns.
Every point on the earth can be described by two numbers, neither larger than 180. Most of us even have devices that will tell us the exact point where we’re standing. The set of numbers are coordinates, referred to as latitude and longitude. Alone these numbers aren’t particularly useful. We instead want to add them to a map. There are many ways to enter latitude and longitude into Google Maps and other online maps. We’ll cover many of them below and even help you discover where you can find some coordinates to try it out yourself.
For now, let’s say you have a latitude and longitude and you’re ready to see it on a Google Map.
Use Google Search
That’s right, you can go straight to the simplest page on the Internet—google.com—and enter your latitude and longitude into the search box. Usually coordinates are listed with latitude first, then longitude. Double check that is the case and that you’ve included a comma between the numbers.
Let’s say these are your coordinates:
At the top of the search results, you’ll see an image representing those coordinates on a map. In this case, that’s somewhere along the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco! Click the image and you’ll be taken to the full Google Maps version of the same location. There’s a single map marker at the location you searched.
In fact, you can go directly to Google Maps and use its search. You can even get directions from one set of coordinates to another. Google Maps treats latitude and longitude like any other search term, allowing you to specify the exact location.
You can even link to Google Maps by latitude and longitude point. For example, here’s the quickest way to the map at the Golden Gate coordinates:
Including more than one or two markers on a map is a bit more complex. Before we get to that, where do you find all these coordinates to map in the first place?
Find Latitude and Longitude Points
Before you can put latitude and longitude on a Google Map, you need to find the numbers. Once you start looking out for them, you may notice them all over the place. Any time you use maps or other location apps on your smart phone, there are latitudes and longitudes under the covers, for example.
You can get a GPS app for your phone that will show your current location. To be the most readily useful, ensure you can receive the coordinates in decimal notation. Often, a GPS app (such as iPhone’s Compass app) will display in degrees. To be ready for Google Maps, you’ll probably have to convert those coordinates, so it’s best to find an app that has them ready as a pair of decimal numbers.
A great way to find latitude and longitude points without having to visit the location is to use Wikipedia. Most articles for cities, places, and landmarks have the coordinates listed in the upper right of the page. By convention, Wikipedia shows these in degree notation. However, click the coordinates and you’ll be taken to a page that provides the decimal conversion.
Lastly, Google provides this tool, embedded below
You can enter an address, postal code, landmark, or other location and get its latitude and longitude values. You can even explore a map, find the spot you want, and click. Try it above.
Create a Google Map Listing Many Locations
It’s one thing to plot a single point on a map or to discover the coordinates for all your favorite places. Next you need to get them all on a map. For programmers, Google includes a Google Maps API. As we discuss in our tutorial, that’s definitely the hard way to map multiple locations.
Most users of our mapping tool simply have a spreadsheet with addresses. Simply copy and paste the entire spreadsheet and we’ll create a map that you can view online, embed in your website, and share with others.
The tool also works with latitude and longitude points. Just include them as two columns in your spreadsheet, then copy and paste all your data in. We created a more detailed walkthrough of mapping latitude and longitude points using BatchGeo, which goes through the process step by step.
Are you ready to try it out? Create your first map right now.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but how long is that line? When it comes to those two points, you may know them as GPS coordinates, or you may only have addresses. Even if you know each latitude and longitude, the math behind the distance calculation is complicated. There are several approaches and tools you can use to make it easier, even bringing the calculations to every row of a spreadsheet. We’ll cover a few options below to get you started with calculating distances.
Many Distances from a Single Place
Calculating a single distance is easy. In fact, we do it all the time using Google Maps and other directions services. Of course, that distance is typically a driving distance instead of the straight line distance. Nevertheless, when you find yourself needing to know multiple distances, the most common reason is you want to find out which locations are closest to single point, such as your current location.
Let’s say you have a spreadsheet of addresses of your city’s mechanics. Your car is broken down and you don’t want to have to push or tow it any farther than necessary.
Add your address, or the address of wherever you want to use as a reference location in the first row of your spreadsheet, just after the header row.
Now highlight and copy your entire spreadsheet (including the header row) and paste it into our simple map making tool. Click Validate and Set Options, then choose Advanced Options. Check the option to calculate distance from the first address. Then click Make Map.
View Santa Monica Mechanics in a full screen map
Now when you see the map, the distance is listed along with the other data with each marker. Since we used letters to label the markers, we know that Marker A is our first row, which is used to calculate the distance for all the other markers.
Break Out Your Digital Measuring Tape
Calculating the distance across all your locations is incredibly useful. Yet, sometimes you want to perform ad hoc measurements between many markers. That’s where the measuring tools that are part of BatchGeo’s Advanced Mode come in handy.
You can check whether Advanced Mode is active, and activate it if necessary, using the Pro menu in the upper right corner of any map. You must be a BatchGeo Pro member and logged in to use Advanced Mode. If Advanced Mode is active, you’ll see several buttons near the zoom controls in the upper left corner of your map.
Select the measuring tool, the button with a ruler icon. The hand cursor will become a plus sign target. Now click and hold where you want to begin a measurement (such as one of the markers). Next, drag the cursor to the end of your measurement. As you drag, you’ll see the current distance from the initial point to the current cursor. To switch between metric and imperial systems, click the scale on the bottom right of the map.
Deploy the Haversine Formula in Your Spreadsheet
The absolute best way to view geographic data is from a map, which is why BatchGeo lets you map Excel data (and other spreadsheets) with our simple copy-paste interface. However, if you need the distances in your spreadsheet directly, you’ll need to include a complex series of functions.
Let’s say you know the latitude and longitude points of those mechanics stored in columns B (latitude) and C (longitude) of your spreadsheet. Using a formula derived from this site, you could calculate the distance from Fleece’s Greases (row 3) to your location (row 2) using this formula:
=3958*ACOS(SIN(B$2*PI()/180)*SIN(B3*PI()/180) + COS(B$2*PI()/180)*COS(B3*PI()/180)*COS(C3*PI()/180-C$2*PI()/180))
You can change the 3,958 — the approximate radius of the earth in miles — to another unit, such as kilometers (6,371), meters (6,371,000), or feet (20,898,240). The rest is advanced math based on the spherical law of cosines. The important parts are the B$2 and C$2, which ensure you’ll compare other rows in the spreadsheet to your location, affixed in that second row. When you copy and paste this formula, the other fields will update to correctly reference the current row.
The haversine formula only works if you know your latitude and longitude points. If all you have is addresses, BatchGeo can help: create a map with measurements from a single distance (as in the first section above), and copy the data back out to your spreadsheet. Go to edit your map, copy the entire data, and you’ll see the distance as the final column when you paste into an empty spreadsheet.
The best part is that your map will still be there as a visual representation of the same data. Naturally, we think a map is a great way to augment the data in your spreadsheet. These different methods of calculating distances have varied levels of difficulty and usefulness, depending on the data you have available. Why not try creating a map now for free?
It’s been 100 years since 1917, a year clouded with events mostly centered in Europe. World War I had dragged on since 1914 with little hope of peace or victory. Though involved in the war, Russia had a lot more to consider when its government collapsed in February. Many of the events of 1917 fall into these two categories, but as you’ll see on the map below, there was a lot going on that year. Peruse the map, or read on for highlights from one hundred years ago.
View 1917: Map of Historical Significance in a full screen map
World War I
The Western Front is the most well known area of warfare, but it was hardly the only place to see action. The west was the primary battlefield, but remember the war initially broke out due to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in eastern Europe. Among the countries with WWI-related events, based on Wikipedia’s list, are Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Iraq, Ireland, Isle of Wight, Israel (then Palestine), Italy, Jordan, Mozambique, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United States. There’s a good reason it became known as a World War.
Using the map above, click the WWI category to restrict only those events related to WWI on the map. Now you’ll see how widespread the markers are, though there’s clearly a cluster around Europe and the Middle East. Most of the far-flung locations are declarations of war from the likes of the United States, Brazil, and China. Interestingly, one outlier was actually a battle. In November, Germany and Portugal battled near the border of modern-day Mozambique and Tanzania. Outside of very northern Egypt, on the Sinai Peninsula, that’s the only notable event of 1917 in Africa.
Other 1917 WWI events include a battle led by Lawrence of Arabia, anarchists in Milan, and a Russian mutiny in Ukraine.
In March 2017, members of the Tsar’s Imperial Parliament formed a provisional government, which encouraged Tsar Nicholas to abdicate his role of Emperor. Later in the year, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, would overthrow the provisional government and establish what eventually became the Soviet Union. Quite a year, right?
Most of the revolution took place in Saint Petersburg, the capital then known as Petrograd. It’s the marker near Finland, which has 14 separate events
As part of the Russian Revolution, other countries once ruled by Russia asserted their independence, including Georgia, Estonia, and Finland.
Other Political Events
With a war and a major revolution, there was plenty of politics happening all over the world. Among them: Sweden received two new prime ministers in the same year. Canada enacted its first income tax. And Mexico enacted a new constitution.
The United States joined the war early in 1917, but still had plenty of action on the homefront. In March, Jeannette Rankin could not even vote for herself when she became the first woman in the US House of Representatives (representing Montana). In the Caribbean, the US purchased the Virgin Islands and granted Puerto Ricans US citizenship.
You can see other political happenings on the map by clicking Politics the the Category selection.
1917 was definitely a year for war, politics, and revolution, but here are a few other highlights from the year:
- The NHL is formed in Montreal
- Children in Portugal claim to see Mary, mother of Jesus
- The first Pulitzer Prize is awarded in New York City
- Bombs, crashes, and explosions galore—click the Distaster category to see more
It was a raucous year and here we are, one hundred years later. Click around to see more, or plot some history with your own map today.