Wednesday, June 26

The Centroid


We like the idea of centres. Centres of gravity. Centres of concentration in yoga. Our human architectures look for centres. When we look at humans we seek the centre and people whose faces are symmetrical around the centre are considered better looking. Our home has its centre in the kitchen or living room. London's centre is measured from charing cross. Financial markets are mean reverting - an example of coming to the centre. People tend to congregate in crowds and centres. Recognise this tendency and therefore you can take advantage of it. Learn how to create your comfort spot. Learn how others come to the mean or centre. Learn why people are so attracted by the concept of centres. 

Fascinating to see the calculations so if you are interested in cartography or geography or economics or history or demographics or anthropology this article will be good to read. 



The  Centroid | Orion Magazine

On the road with the population of a restless nation

By Jeremy Miller

Published in the March/April 2013 issue of Orion magazine

ON A WARM DAY in March 2011, I find myself in the back seat of a white, government-issue Chevy Suburban, rolling over spongy pasturelands in the sparsely populated foothills of the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri. The vehicle is being piloted by Brian Ward, a geodetic advisor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dave Doyle, the chief surveyor with NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey division, sits in the passenger seat, looking intently at a dashboard-mounted GPS screen. “Almost there. Just a little farther on,” Doyle mutters as Ward slaloms through an agitated herd of beef cattle.

We are aimed at the mean population center—or centroid—of the United States, a hypothetical and highly mathematical point calculated every ten years as part of the decennial census. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population center is “the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all 308,745,538 residents counted in the 2010 Census were of identical weight.” Picture that if you can.

“Looks like we continue on and then veer left,” says Doyle, a gregarious man with a mane of salt-and-pepper hair, glasses resting precariously at the tip of his nose. The edge of the pasture gives way to a stand of leafless hickories and dogwoods covered in white blooms. Due to the unusually warm weather, the small, four-petaled flowers have emerged a few weeks earlier than usual.

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