Today is Alzheimer’s day. Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease, deeply affecting individuals and their families alike. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and the only one we cannot prevent, cure or even slow down in its progression.
The very least you can do is to spend one minute to watch this video to understand just how bad Alzheimer’s is and share it with family and friends.
Sciences is part of Life
Science is so much more than its technical details. With careful attention to presentation, cutting-edge insights and discoveries can be clearly and faithfully communicated independent of those details; in fact, those insights and discoveries are precisely the ones that can drive us to want to learn the details.
We must embark on a cultural shift that places science in its rightful place alongside music, art and literature as an indispensable part of what makes life worth living.
Read more on the NY Times.
Science, religion, and the big bang
The friction between science and religion stretches back millennia and has been addressed by some of humanity’s greatest minds. In case you’ve missed the discussion, consider viewing this great animation.
20th century deaths
The purpose of visual design is to help the end users benefit from the information. A good graph gets someone who is not inclined to look at complicated data, to actually spend time on it and learn something worthwhile. Look at this visualization of the major causes of death in the 20th Century. Did you know that tobacco killed 15 times more people than illegal drugs? Or that people were more inclined to commit suicide than to kill other people? And that 20% of all deaths in the world were self inflicted, through war, murder, and ideology?
Remember good old Euclid and his work on geometric algebra? Something magic happens to the ancient theorems when Oliver Byrne (1810-1890) applies some color and principles of visual design. Excerpt from Byrne’s introduction: “We do not introduce colours for the purpose of entertainment or to amuse […], but to assist the mind in its researches after truth, to increase the facilities of instruction, and to diffuse permanent knowledge”. And remember, we are talking A.D. 1847. I love it!
In today’s world, data do not speak for themselves anymore. We scientists need to learn to communicate to non experts if we want decision makers and society at large to take us seriously. Think about it before you prepare your next presentation.
Ariel Waldman has created an innovative platform to involve everyone in space exploration. Ms Waldman is a very interesting character. Her background is in design and at some point she ended up without a job. She found outer space interesting and decided she’d apply to NASA, where she did get the job. Ariel advocates the importance of involvement in science for everybody, not just the typical PhD types. NB: She is also a fun and engaging speaker. Way to go Ariel!
American statistician Edward Tufte introduced the now classic concept of data-ink-ratio. Should we always follow his advice and eliminate unnecessary ink? Not always, if adding some non-data ink helps telling a story.
Read here about his work.