Posts Tagged ‘infographics’
“The nature of things betrays itself more readily under the vexations of art than in its natural freedom”*…
The British Library is hosting “Beautiful Science: Picturing Data, Inspiring Insight” in its Folio Society Gallery from now through May 26th. The show features selection’s from the Library’s extraordinary collection of scientific visualizations, charts, and maps.
Turning numbers into pictures that tell important stories and reveal the meaning held within is an essential part of what it means to be a scientist. This is as true in today’s era of genome sequencing and climate models as it was in the 19th century.
Beautiful Science explores how our understanding of ourselves and our planet has evolved alongside our ability to represent, graph and map the mass data of the time.
The exhibit features classic illustrations dating back to 1603, including John Snow’s map of London’s SoHo that’s credited with revealing a contaminated water pump as the source of a 1854 cholera outbreak; and it extends forward to beautiful modern visualizations of data from satellites and gene sequencers.
(Special bonus: Florence Nightingale’s extraordinary “rose diagram” infographic, demonstrating that more soldiers died of preventable diseases than in conflict during the Crimean War.)
* Sir Francis Bacon
As we delight in the distillation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1870 that Congress authorized the formation of the U.S. weather service (later named the Weather Bureau; later still, the National Weather Service), and placed it under the direction of the Army Signal Corps. Cleveland Abbe, who had started the first private weather reporting and warning service (in Cincinnati) and had been issuing weather reports or bulletins since September, 1869, was the only person in the country at the time who was experienced in drawing weather maps from telegraphic reports and forecasting from them. He became the weather service’s inaugural chief scientist– effectively its founding head– in January, 1871. The first U.S. meteorologist, he is known as the “father of the U.S. Weather Bureau,” where he systemized observation, trained personnel, and established scientific methods. He went on to become one of the 33 founders of the National Geographic Society.
But in the meantime…
… our friends at Flowing Data offer an expanded version of their earlier graphic survey of well-known movie lines [c.f., Diagramming (Famous) Sentences]. Click here for (a larger version of) the chart from which the image above is a small excerpt.
* David Mamet
As we aspire to speak aphoristically, we might recall that it was on this date in 1980 that the public learned of the FBI operation known as ABSCAM. Born in 1978 as a sting operation aimed at forgery and stolen art, it shifted to focus on public corruption; aided by a convicted con-man, the FBI videotaped politicians as they were offered bribes by a fictional Middle Eastern sheik in return for political favors. The investigation ultimately led to the conviction of a United States Senator, six members of the United States House of Representatives, one member of the New Jersey State Senate, members of the Philadelphia City Council, the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, and an inspector for the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service.
And of course, it provided the inspiration for American Hustle.
Here’s our most ambitious set of predictions yet – from what could happen in one thousand years time to one hundred quintillion years (that’s 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 years). As the song says, there may be trouble ahead…
As we remind ourselves that patience is a virtue, we might recall that it was on this date in 1989 that Ronald Reagan became the first U.S. president elected in a year ending in “0″ since 1840 to leave office alive.
This is a comparison of probation vs parole rates by state (plus DC). The data used are from 2011. I expected the two variables to be strongly correlated, but they aren’t. Whether this is influenced by state laws, the behavior of the people, the attitudes of judges, or the leniency of parole boards, I don’t know, though I suspect it is a combination of all of them.
For those wondering about the difference between probation and parole, you can read a detailed description here:http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=qa&iid=324. The most fundamental difference is that parole is a supervised release from jail while probation is a sentencing by a judge that requires supervision of the individual.
What I found most amazing about these data is that 4.6% of Georgia’s population is on probation. If you rule out minors from the population pool, more than 1 in 20 adults is on probation there.
* Mark Twain
As we remind ourselves that, America’s astronomical incarceration rates notwithstanding, crime is a universally human phenomenon, we might recall that on this date in 1965, the infamous British gangsters the Kray Twins were charged with demanding money with menaces in the County of London. Starting in the early 1950, Ronald and Reginald Kray used the cover of night club ownership to build a powerful gang, The Firm, that dealt in extortion, hijacking, armed robbery, arson, and murder. The Kray’s, who had become celebrities– friends of the likes of Frank Sinatra and Diana Dors– by the time of their 1965 arrest, beat that rap. But were convicted of a broader array of offenses in 1968, and imprisoned for (what turned out to be) life.
Still, in 1985 officials at Broadmoor Hospital discovered a business card of Ron’s, which prompted an investigation that revealed the twins – incarcerated at separate institutions – along with their older brother, Charlie, and another accomplice who was not in prison, were operating a lucrative bodyguard and “protection” business, Krayleigh Enterprises, for Hollywood stars– including Sinatra.
Ronnie was ultimately certified insane (paranoid schizophrenic) thus his time at Broadmoor, where he died in 1985. Reg was freed on compassionate grounds in 2000, at age 87, with inoperable bladder cancer; he died 8 weeks later.
From our old friend David McCandless and his ever-illuminating Information is Beautiful, a look at length… The image above is the beginning of a fascinating infographic in which he compares the relative length (code base size) of applications, devices, and (considering DNA to be “code”) organisms. There are some surprises (Mac OSX 10.4 is bigger than the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System; the software in a modern high-end car is bigger than both); and– as one sees when one scrolls all the way to the bottom, a poignant relevancy: the Healthcare.gov website (according to most-recently released figures) is much, much bigger still– over 8 times the size of Facebook’s code base, almost 4 times as large as the genome of a mouse.
*Blaise Pascal (often attributed to Mark Twain, who did also say it)
As we contemplate complexity, we might send efficiently-printed birthday greetings to Johann Alois Senefelder; he was born on this date in 1771. A playwright and actor who’d fallen into debt over printing problems with one of his plays, Senefelder began to experiment with cheaper ways of bringing his works to market– a less expensive and more efficient printing alternative to relief printed hand set type or etched plates. His invention, lithography, was the biggest revolution in the printing industry since Johannes Gutenberg’s movable type.
The principle is simple: an image is drawn with greasy crayon (traditionally, on Bavarian limestone) and chemically treated/fixed; the image areas of the stone accept oil-based ink and undrawn areas reject it. Today, photo lithography is the primary technique used to print magazines and books; but Senefelder’s original process of drawing by hand on litho stones is still in use in the fine arts.