Posts Tagged ‘infographics’
Everything has a limit – or does it?…
Some maximums will never be surpassed, but as the author Arthur C Clarke once said, “the only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
See a larger version of the graphic above at “Ultimate limits of nature and humanity.”
* Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
As we bump up against boundaries, we might send compressed birthday greetings to Aaron “Bunny” Lapin; he was born on this date in 1914. In 1948, Lapin invented Reddi-Wip, the pioneering whipped cream dessert topping dispensed from a spray can. First sold by milkmen in St. Louis, the product rode the post-World War Two convenience craze to national success; in 1998, it was named by Time one of the century’s “100 great consumer items”– along with the pop-top can and Spam. Lapin became known as the Whipped Cream King; but his legacy is broader: in 1955, he patented a special valve to control the flow of Reddi-Wip from the can, and formed The Clayton Corporation to manufacture it. Reddi-Wip is now a Con-Agra brand; but Clayton goes strong, now making industrial valves, closures, caulk, adhesives and foamed plastic products (like insulation and cushioning materials).
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time”*…
Benedikt Groß (designer of a cool typeface made up of satellite imagery, among many other nifty things) has created Population.io, a new site (still in Beta) that visualizes a user’s place in the world’s population in a series of elegant tables and charts… including one that estimates the time of the users death (at least loosely– that is, based on average life expectancy where he/she lives).
* Mark Twain
As we settle into the global village, we might send speculative birthday greetings to Philip Kindred Dick; he was born on this date in 1928. A novelist, short story writer, essayist and philosopher, Dick published 44 novels and 121 short stories, nearly all in the Science Fiction genre. While he was recognized only within his field in his lifetime, and lived near poverty for much of his adult life, eleven popular films have been based on his work since his death in 1982 (including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau, and Impostor). In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923; and in 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.
It’s tempting to consider information visualization a relatively new field that rose in response to the demands of the Internet generation. “But,” argues Manual Lima in The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge, “as with any domain of knowledge, visualizing is built on a prolonged succession of efforts and events.”
While it’s tempting to look at the recent work, it’s critical we understand the long history. Lima’s stunning book helps, covering the fascinating 800-year history of the seemingly simple tree diagram.
Trees are some of the oldest living things in the world. The sequoias in Northern California, for example, can reach a height of nearly 400 feet, with a trunk diameter of 26 feet and live to more than 3,500 years. “These grandiose, mesmerizing lifeforms are a remarkable example of longevity and stability and, ultimately, are the crowning embodiment of the powerful qualities humans have always associated with trees.”
Such an important part of natural life on earth, tree metaphors have become deeply embedded in the English language, as in the “root” of the problem or “branches” of knowledge. In the Renaissance, the philosophers Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes, for example, used tree diagrams to describe dense classification arrangements. As we shall see, trees really became popular as a method of communicating and changing minds with Charles Darwin…
More on the highly-recommended Farnum Street blog.
* Rodney Dangerfield
As we look to our roots, we might recall that it was on this date in 1955 that Capitol Records released what it claimed to be (and what surely was) the shortest “song” ever recorded. Earlier in the year, Les Paul and Mary Ford has released a single, “Magic Melody,” that concluded with the well-known “shave and a hair cut” musical phrase– sans the traditional “two bits” sting. Disc jockeys around the country complained that the track ended too abruptly, that it left the listener hanging. So Les Paul went back into the studio to record “Magic Melody- Part 2″– which consisted solely of the two “missing” notes. It ran for about one second.
From Google Maps, an altogether-engrossing geographical trivia game: Smarty Pins.
* Terry Pratchett
As we find our bearings, we might spare a thought for Florence Nightingale; she died on this date in 1910. Famed for her work as a nurse in the Crimean War, she went on to found training facilities and nursing homes– pioneering both medical training for women and what is now known as Social Entrepreneuring. Less well-known are Nightingale’s contributions to epidemiology, statistics, and the visual communication of data in the field of public health. Always good at math, she pioneered the use of the polar area chart (the equivalent to a modern circular histogram or rose diagram) and popularized the pie chart (which had been developed in 1801 by William Playfair).
In 1813, Isaac Eddy and James Wilson created a “Chronology Delineated,” a history from 4000 BC to 1813 AD in the form of a large, living tree on which each branch representing an empire or state.
* Percy Bysshe Shelley
As we get down with Gibbon, we might note that this, the first day of July, kicks off National Blueberry Month, National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, National Hot Dog Month, National Ice Cream Month– and perhaps most saliently, National Anti-Boredom Month.
* George William Russell (AE)
As we bird-dog Beatrice, we might send sardonic birthday greetings to Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce; he was born on this date in 1842. A journalist, editor, short story writer, fabulist, and satirist, Bierce is probably best remembered for his short-story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (which Kurt Vonnegut considered the greatest American short story, a “work of flawless genius”) and, pace Dante, for his scathingly satirical lexicon The Devil’s Dictionary…
- Advice, n. The smallest current coin…
- Boundary, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other…
- Year, n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments…
Danish duo Mikael Wulff and Anders Morgenthaler create visuals depicting the everyday struggles, irritations, and insights of their fellow Westerners. Their official-looking graphs illuminate the unofficial statistics of our daily lives, offering insights that are at once unexpected and glaringly obvious.
They publish their work every day on Wumo, their webcomic and newspaper cartoon strip (formerly known as Wulffmorgenthaler); they’re archived at Kind of Normal.
* Friedrich Nietzsche
As we exult in explication, we might send consoling birthday greetings to Rufus Porter; he was born on this date in 1792. A visionary and prolific inventor, Porter had painfully little business sense. He held over 100 patents, including a fire alarm, a signal telegraph, a fog whistle, a washing machine, and a revolving firearm… He sold his patent for the lattermost to Samuel Colt for $100 in 1844. With those proceeds, Porter published the first issue of Scientific American (on August 28, 1845)– but sold that business 10 months later.