We know space is big, but trying to understand how big is tricky. Say you stare up at the sky and identify stars and constellations in a virtual planetarium, you can't quite fathom how far away all those stars are (previously, twice). Even if you could change your point of view and zoom around in space to really see 100,000 nearby stars (autoplaying ambient music, and there are actually 119,617 stars mapped in 3D space), it's still difficult to get a sense of scale. There's this static image of various items mapped on a log scale from XKCD (previously), and an interactive horizontal journey down from the sun to the heliosphere with OMG Space (previously). You can get a bit more dynamic with this interactive Scale of the Universe webpage (also available in with some variants, if you want the sequel [ previously, twice], the swirly, gravity-optional version that takes some time to load, and the wrong version [previously]), but that's just for the scale of objects, not of space itself. If you want to get spaced out, imagine if If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel, and travel from there (previously). This past March, BBC Future put out a really big infographic, which also takes a moment to load, but then you can see all sorts of things, from the surface of Earth out to the edge of our solar system.
How Americans Die - a visual tour through surprising trends in mortality among Americans in the last several decades
The depth of the problem - this WaPo infographic hints at the immense challenges that Australian and Chinese search teams will face in recovering the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 black box from its suspected location at the bottom of the Indian Ocean
In a new exhibition titled Beautiful Science: Picturing Data, Inspiring Insight, the British Library pays homage to the important role data visualization plays in the scientific process. The exhibition can be visited from 20 February until 26 May 2014, and contains works ranging from John Snow's plotting of the 1854 London cholera infections on a map to colourful depictions of the Tree of Life. In a Nature Video, curator Johanna Kieniewicz explores some of the beautiful examples of visualizations that are exhibited.[more inside]
At the core of good science and engineering is the careful and respectful treatment of data. We calibrate our instruments, scrutinize the algorithms we use to process the data, and study the behavior of the models we use to interpret the data or simulate the phenomena we may be observing. Surprisingly, this careful treatment of data often breaks down when we visualize our data.
291 diseases and injuries + 67 risk factors + 1,160 non-fatal complications = 650 million estimates of how we age, sicken, and die
As humans live longer, what ails us isn't necessarily what kills us: five data visualizations of how we age, sicken, and die. Causes of death by age, sex, region, and year. Heat map of leading causes and risks by region. Changes in leading causes and risks between 1990 and 2010. Healthy years lost to disability vs. life expectancy in 1990 and 2010. Uncertainties of causes and risks. From the team for the massive Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010. [more inside]
[raises envelope to temple] Human bone cancer. Sea gooseberry larva. Bat embryos. [tears open envelope, blows inside, removes paper, reads] Some of the winners of the 38th Nikon Small World microphotography competition.
These days, it's easy to take visualizations of biological molecules for granted, what with the easy availability of an ever-increasing supply of high-resolution X-ray and neutron crystallography data, as well as freely available software that render them into beautiful and useful images that help us understand how life works. The lack of computers and computer networks in the mid-1950s made creating these illustrations a painstaking collaboration, requiring an artist's craftsmanship and aesthetic sense, as well as, most importantly, the critical ability to visualize the concepts that scientists wish to communicate. One such scientific artist was Irving Geis, who painted the first biological macromolecule obtained through X-ray data: an iconic watercolor representation of the structure of sperm whale myoglobin, as seen in the third slide of this slideshow of selected pieces. His first effort was a revolutionary work of informatics, including coloring and shading effects that emphasized important structural and functional features of the myoglobin protein, simultaneously moving the less-important aspects into the background, all while stressing simplicity and beauty throughout. The techniques that Geis developed in this and subsequent works influenced the standards for basic 2D protein visualization that are used today.
The rise and fall of personal computing - A neat (and in some ways, stark) visualization of the impact of mobile devices on computing
A hive plot (slides) is a beautiful and compelling way to visualize multiple, complex networks, without resorting to "hairball" graphs that are often difficult to qualitatively compare and contrast. [more inside]
Princeton's 5th annual Art of Science Competition "The Art of Science exhibition explores the interplay between science and art. These practices both involve the pursuit of those moments of discovery when what you perceive suddenly becomes more than the sum of its parts. Each piece in this exhibition is, in its own way, a record of such a moment."
OpenCPU provides a RESTful interface to the popular open-source statistical package R, enabling the user to perform calculations and create publication-quality or web-embeddable visualizations via standard web requests.
Visualization of the dark matter in 1/1000 of the gigantic Bolshoi cosmological simulation, zooming in on a region centered on the dark matter halo of a very large cluster of galaxies. ... The Bolshoi simulation is the most accurate cosmological simulation of the evolution of the large-scale structure of the universe yet made (“bolshoi” is the Russian word for “great” or “grand”). (The Formation of the Milky Way and its Neighbors is cool too.)
The Welikia Project goes beyond Mannahatta to encompass the entire city, discover its original ecology and compare it what we have today.
“If you display information the right way, anybody can be an analyst,” Tufte once told me. “Anybody can be an investigator.” - The Washington Monthly interviews informaticist Edward Tufte [via]
The International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge 2010 - "Researchers are generating mind-boggling volumes of data at exponentially increasing rates. The ability to process that information and display it in ways that enhance understanding is an increasingly important aspect of the way scientists communicate with each other and—especially—with students and the general public. That's why, for the past 8 years, Science and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) have co-sponsored annual challenges to promote cutting-edge efforts to visualize scientific data, principles, and ideas. This year's awardees span scales from nanoparticles to colliding galaxies, and from microseconds to millennia."
Fuck Yeah Fluid Dynamics celebrates fluid dynamics in all their fuck-yeahness.
Nathalie Miebach translates scientific data related to meteorology and ecology into woven sculptures and musical scores. She discusses her work in an interview with the Peabody Essex Museum. (via Mira y Calla)
Asteroid Discovery From 1980 - 2010: an animation of the solar system that highlights asteroids as they are discovered. I would suggest watching it in a high resolution.
One of the great things about Google Earth is how extensible it is using KML. You can use it to show off placemarks, build 3D structures, track wildfires or hurricanes, and much more. Google Earth can be used as a scientific visualization platform. OpenEarth is an open source initiative that archives, hosts and disseminates Data, Models and Tools for marine and coastal scientists and engineers. Their KML data visualizations using Google Earth display some of the possibilities. [via] [more inside]
Cool app lets you zoom in from a coffee bean to a carbon atom, so that you can compare sizes. Along the way, you see a grain of sand, a skin cell and many other tiny things. This is the first time I've ever had a sense of these objects' sizes. Cells are actually bigger than I thought they were. I wish the zoomer would keep going. I want to see some sub-atomic particles on the scale.
The Anatomy of Spiral Arms, shows how galaxies naturally evolve to form grand-design two-arm spirals. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D. [more inside]
Knowledge, in Real Time. "A new picture of science — and possibly future innovation — comes into focus with the mapping of scientists’ online research behavior."
2008 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge "The winners -- in categories including photography, illustration, informational graphics, and multimedia -- captured the crystalline beauty of diatoms, the expanse of the human circulatory system, a fairy tale tea party re-invented, and the dynamic life of a plant cell." (previously)
Gorgeous images, selected solely for their artistic appeal, from the pages of Physical Review B.
The Inner Life of an Intelligently Designed Cell? Remember The Inner Life of a Cell animation (discussed here)? Apparently the Discovery Institute (recently discussed here) is showing it in presentations with a new title and narration, and without attribution.
Scientific visualization challenge 2006: This year's winners captured inner details of a child mummy, mathematical surfaces rendered as glass objects, the highest mountain on Earth, air traffic by night, etc...
Proofs and Pictures: The Role of Visualization in Mathematical and Scientific Reasoning [video] "The picture is a telescope for looking into Plato's heaven." -- James Brown [cached]
Tsunami visualizations Visualizations of recent and historical tsunami episodes, collected by John McDaris at Carleton College. Includes large but visually effective animations, such as this NOAA visualization of the global propagation of the 26/12/04 tsunami (24MB Quicktime).
The results of the second annual Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge are out and include some dazzling imagery of a feeding tick, a volcano, and movies of a bat in action, an overview of the 2002 European floods, and a presentation on RNA interference.