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2019-04-16 | J++ Newsletter #73
Source: Metro Newspaper UK (

The EU's uncertain future and a scientific breakthrough

European Parliament elections ahead

European politics is not only the ongoing Brexit chaos but also the European Parliament elections getting closer.

In preparation you can test your EU history knowledge at SVT (in Swedish), in a conceptually interesting quiz, where you are supposed to organize events relative others on a timeline (similar to the popular Swedish board game “När då då”), rather than knowing the answer exactly.

Also worth checking out is Politico's website for polls and projections of the next EU Parliament.

"Black holes and revelations"

Black holes are impossible to see by nature (as no light can escape them), yet this past week occurred an historical scientific breakthrough; the first ever image of a black hole!

An international collaboration (the Event Horizon Telescope) and NASA turned the gaze of several telescopes on the ground and in space towards the Messier 87 (M87) black hole all at the same time. Data from the observations were then processed by an image reconstruction algorithm to produce the image we have now all seen.
Read more on Nasa website and watch the reaction of Harvard scientist, Dr Katie Bouman, who led the creation of this new algorithm.
The code used is a series of open source Python modules that rely on several Python libraries like Pandas and Matplotlib. And for all Python coders out there it is a cool reminder of how wide and diverse our community is!


Helsingin Samomat (in Finnish) displayed a good example of election results maps after the Finnish parliamentary elections.
They combined a step by step animation with cartograms. While cartograms distort the overall shape, they're really good at reflecting proportions (see newsletter #66 for a cartogram of 2018 US House election resuts). Here the animation adds to the understanding and transitions from national maps to maps of urban and thus more densely populated areas.

Summer is coming

In popular culture this week marks the return of the TV series Game of Throne (for its final season).
Such a widespread pop reference can be used to put data in perspective as seen below with environmental data:

It can also inspire fun data visualisation like the one created by The Washington Post looking at characters deaths


  • Pandas Bokeh is a Python data visualisation library to produce interactive HTML based visualisations of Pandas data structures with a simple function (.plot_bokeh()).
  • ipyleaflet is a widget (plugin) for those of us using the Jupyter notebook. It will let you add interactive maps to your notebooks.

Resources provides skills specific and career resources for data journalists
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