Infographics through the ages highlight the visual beauty of science
Smithsonian Magazine - 05/12/2014
Tacked on to the appendix of a British government health report in 1858, a rose-shaped diagram presented a striking finding: during the Crimean War, far more soldiers died of disease in hospitals than of wounds on the battlefield.
The diagram’s author, famed mother of nursing Florence Nightingale, had a talent for statistics. Today, her rose diagram remains iconic, but Nightingale certainly wasn’t the first to visualize her data, nor would she be the last. An exhibit at the British Library entitled “Beautiful Science” displays 400 years worth of infographics, each with its own fascinating backstory.
The exhibit contains three sections: public health, weather and climate, and the tree of life. Each section features infographics and data visualizations from past and present—allowing visitors to draw conclusions about how scientific visuals have changed, or stayed the same, over the centuries.