Data Is Plural

... is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

2017.08.16 edition

Historic newspapers, terrorism prosecutions, brain scans, crude oil, and prime number psychology.

Historic newspapers. Chronicling America — a project run by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities — provides information about more than 150,000 historic newspapers and access to digitized pages from many of them. Its API lets you search the database and doesn’t require registration; its bulk data includes text from more than 12 million pages. For instance, here’s the Omaha Daily Bee’s front page on April 7, 1917, the day after the U.S. entered World War I. [h/t Ed Summers]

Terrorism prosecutions. “The U.S. government has prosecuted 808 people for terrorism since the 9/11 attacks. Most of them never even got close to committing an act of violence.” Those are the findings of The Intercept’s Trial and Terror database, first published in April and most recently updated last week. The underlying data — available on GitHub — contains each defendant’s name and demographic details, as well as each case’s description, status, charges, charge date, conviction date (if convicted), jurisdiction, and more.

Brain scans. The Open Access Series of Imaging Studies (OASIS) project is “aimed at making MRI data sets of the brain freely available to the scientific community,” with the goal of “[facilitating] future discoveries in basic and clinical neuroscience.” So far, the project has published two collections: a cross-sectional dataset of scans from 416 people, ages 18 to 96; and a longitudinal dataset, based on 150 people aged 60 to 96, each of whom were scanned at least two different times. [h/t Andrew Beam]

The U.S. petroleum supply and exports. The Energy Information Administration’s Petroleum Supply Monthly contains detailed data about how the United States obtains crude oil and petroleum products, and where that supply goes. In May, for instance, the U.S. refined nearly 314 million barrels of “finished motor gasoline” and exported 18.6 million barrels of it.

Prime psychology. Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24‑Hour Bookstore, has a new book coming out next month — one that he believes “is the first novel in English to feature, as a main supporting character, a possibly-sentient sourdough starter.” To dole out advance copies of the book, Sloan conducted the following contest: Try to choose the smallest prime number that nobody else will pick. Now he’s posted the results — a CSV listing the number of contestants who chose each prime number. (Seventeen was the most popular number among the contest’s 1,354 entries; the smallest unique prime was 409.)