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(Science) Information is Beautiful - Part 1

The first of four posts about the finalists of one of the world's top data viz competitions

October 29, 2014

The winners of the “Kantar Information is Beautiful” awards will be known in just a few weeks. It is a competition that promotes excellence and beauty in data visualization, infographics and other forms of visual communication, and this year’s list of nominees includes several works related to issues of science or technology.

In this context, I’ll dedicate a set of four blog posts in which I identify and comment on works competing under the various awards categories: infographics, data visualization, interactive visualization, animated infographics, tools and websites. The winners will be announced on the 12th of November, in London.

Here’s the first set of visualizations that really caught my attention:

Category: Infographics

The science of jogging: How to run better? – OnLab

This infographic was produced to the supplement of the In Vivo magazine. The data used for its production comes from the Run Keeper application. This and other applications represent a rich source of information data today, allowing unprecedented mapping of information.

OnLab produced other works similar to the one presented here, among which are The birth of a human and An orbit but hardly alone.

The OnLab exists since 2001 and was founded by Nicolas Bourquin. It is headquartered in Berlin and Switzerland and develops projects of visual communication and editorial design. It’s worth taking a look.


What happens to a woman’s body during pregnancy? – Thiago Lyra (infographics) and Rubens Paiva (illustration)

This infographic combines the real image (photography) with several explanatory texts and diagrams that allow the reader to focus, both in the overall scope of the changes that a woman undergoes during pregnancy, as well as in specific aspects, such as the emergence varicose veins, why it happens and what actually happens to the blood vessels (diagram above the number 10 in the picture).

This work has a style both Thiago Lyra and Ruben Paiva adopted in previous infographic works, such as “What happens to the body when you spend too much time on the computer

Thiago Lyra also talked a little about his work with Visualoop, check it here.


Deep brain dive – Jason Treat, Kurt Mutchler, Anthony Schick, Bryan Christie

The work of Jason Treat has already been recognized by the community of visual communication. His award winning infographics Anatomy of speed is an example of  that. This work won the gold medal at the 21st edition of Malofiej and was considered one of America’s best infographics of 2013.

Deep brain dive is the result of a collaboration of several professionals and demanded the deconstruction of scientific information about what researchers know about the brain. In this video we can clearly understand the kind of information that was the basis for the production of the infographic.

Both the video and the infographic integrate information on two main aspects: 1 – the scale that is associated with brain structure and 2 – known structures of the brain. In particular, the concept of scale materializes in the presentation of various elements with very different actual sizes (eg, mouse, neuron, indicating micrometer as a unit height of the box considered for observation of structures in the brain).


Category: WEBSITE

HP: What matters – FFunction

In 2014, HP commissioned a survey asking 3500 policymakers to “locate” themselves in terms of the rapid change in information technology (IT). The result of this research is now available online and are interactive, allowing the reader to visualize in a clear and immediate way what information technologies represent to personalities with great political power. Many of the keywords associated with answers that were given show IT represents both an upside and a challenge for policy-making. However “future opportunities”, one of the buzzwords that arises in greater prominence, suggests that regardless of the challenges that IT presents, it is seen as a sign of optimism.

This initiative by HP is a great example of how we can use new  and more clear ways for presenting results of scientific studies using visual communication.


Global CO2 emissions continue to increase? – Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency

This website page constitutes a way of communicating visually some trends in global CO2 emissions in an interactive manner, based on data from the 2013 report of PBL Agency of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

The user can view information in the form of different types of graphs and charts and understand how investments in renewable energy and CO2 emissions have been evolving over the years in various countries.

Stay tuned for the second part of this post!

Written by Susana Pereira

Susana Simões Pereira, maths teacher and PhD in science teaching and communication. I enjoy games and photography and I'm passionate for science and art, specially when together in the same context. You can follow my updates on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.