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SA Visual

SA Visual


Illustrating science since 1845
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  • Profile

    The world of science visuals has become a large and varied place. In this blog we call out great art and design from our hallowed pages and elsewhere.

    The SA Visual writers:
    Michael Mrak, Jen Christiansen, Monica Bradley, Jason Mischka, Ryan Reid, Jason Arias, Liz Tormes and Bernard Lee.
  • A Look under the Hood of Online Data Visualization

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    Andy Kirk (of Visualising Data) recently published a clever image-driven post in which he uses automobiles to make a series of points about the practice of data visualization. Interestingly, cars also came to my mind when reflecting upon a data visualization gathering held a few weeks ago. OpenVis Conference is an annual event (now in [...]

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    On Climate Surveys, the People Agree—Mostly [Interactive]

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    It’s interesting to see how different points can pique the interest of different people looking at the same data set. My colleague Mark Fischetti (senior editor and partner-in-crime for many of the Graphic Science items in the magazine) was intrigued by bipartisan agreement on questions related to global warming in the survey results shown in [...]

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    How Do You Visualize the Brain? [Contest]

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    Here at Scientific American, we develop lots of infographics about the brain. From classic neural pathway diagrams, depictions of medical breakthroughs, and maps of the brain’s genetic activity, there are as many solutions for visualizing the brain as there are questions about how it works. Now it’s your turn. MIT’s EyeWire, FEI and Visually are [...]

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    Scientific American Graphics Win 2 Medals at Malofiej

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    The 22nd annual Malofiej International Infographics Summit (hosted in Pamplona, Spain by the Spanish chapter of the Society for News Design) concluded today with award announcements. I’m thrilled to report that Scientific American won a silver medal in the online category for Jan Willem Tulp’s flavor connection interactive, and a bronze medal in the print [...]

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    Evolution of the Scientific American Logo

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    Scientific American’s logotype has undergone subtle shifts, large leaps and occasional bouts of nostalgia. The image series below outlines the history of the publication’s identity, starting with its debut in August 1845 as weekly devoted primarily to inventions. For more on the history of the magazine, check out this graphic to see how cover topics [...]

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    Don’t Just Visualize Data—Visceralize It

    Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew (December 7, 1972). Image courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Center

    The title of this post borrows from ideas presented by Sha Hwang at the Visualized conference in New York City several weeks ago: He kicked off the data-visualization event with a talk that—in effect—challenged the audience to take a step back. Way back. And then to look again, with fresh unblinking eyes. What does a [...]

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    4 Ways to Venus: An Artist’s Assignment

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    Irving Geis (1908–1997) is probably best known for illustrations of biological macromolecules, such as his groundbreaking watercolor painting of myoglobin—an exhaustive and beautiful portrait of the first properly sorted protein molecule. (The work appears in “The Three-dimensional Structure of a Protein Molecule,” by John Kendrew, Scientific American, December 1961.) From 1948 through 1983 he lent [...]

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    How I Reconciled My Love for Art and Science

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    In college in the 1990s, I suffered an identity crisis. Was I a scientist or an artist? I loved the clarity and order inherent to the scientific process; ask questions, set up methodologies, collect data, analyze. Research projects and papers I co-authored on the topics of trace fossils and hydrothermal vent species were immensely satisfying. [...]

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    The Evolution of a Scientific American Information Graphic: Where the Wild Bees Are

    detail of December 2013 Graphic Science image

    Have you ever wondered how—and why—infographers push beyond familiar forms such as bar charts and network diagrams when translating information from a spreadsheet into an illustration? Data visualizer Moritz Stefaner explains the process behind his Graphic Science assignment for Scientific American in a post on his blog. Check out the final graphic in the December [...]

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    Looking toward the Future: Introducing SAVisual

    As Scientific American’s design director, I realize the weight this office brings to bear on me. SA has published groundbreaking art and graphics since its inception in 1845. From the first etchings to today’s 3-D illustrations and photography, it is an incredible legacy. In this blog we will call out great art and design from [...]

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