Congressional Election Results

The Federal Election Commission keeps a record of vote tallies for all Presidential and Congressional elections going back to 1982. But trying to make sense of these records is a headache because the format changes just about every year. The vagaries of state election laws also mean it’s not always simple to figure out how […]

Natural Disasters

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains a storm events database that contains 42 types of natural disasters, ranging from rip tides to heavy fogs. Separately, NOAA keeps a significant earthquake archive. Dealing with natural disaster data can be tricky. All events are not equally dangerous. Hurricanes have claimed over a thousand lives in the U.S. since 1996 while wildfires have […]

County Health Rankings

Every spring, the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute releases a massive Excel file of health data for every county in America. The data has everything from traditional risk factors like smoking and obesity to information on health insurance coverage, access to healthy foods, exercise, and mental health

The Solar System

When it looked like the comet ISON had the potential to light up the night sky in late 2013, we immediately set out to see if it would be possible to track its progress and trajectory directly on This posed a small technical challenge since the universe has three spatial dimensions, while only has two. This means we had to choose an angle from which to view the solar system and project it onto the screen.

The Census

Anyone who has tried to get basic data from the Census Bureau understands the unique pain of navigating their website. Locating something as simple as “Median income by age, 2000-2010” requires crawling through an infinite series of pre-generated tables, figuring out which geographies the data is available for, and downloading the file–only to discover that […]

The Social Security Administration’s Baby Names Data

Every year around Mother’s Day, the Social Security Administration publishes the frequency of first names for every child born in the previous calendar year, down to any name that appeared at least five times that year. Since the data goes back to 1880, it’s possible to chart any given name over time.