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Jul. 03, 2015

Beyond the Pie Chart

by Annie Minoff

Click to enlarge images
David McCandless does not like pie charts. “When I see a default [Powerpoint template] pie chart, I sag internally,” he admits. And for good reason. McCandless is a data journalist and “information designer.” Between his popular blog Information is Beautiful, and books (the latest is Knowledge is Beautiful) he’s shown over and over again the explanatory power of a well-researched, well-designed graphic. 
 
On stage at the Aspen Ideas Festival this week, McCandless took Ira and a ballroom full of Science Friday fans on a tour of some of the science and health graphics he’s constructed over the years. He explained that, for him, each new infographic begins with a question: “Stuff I don’t understand, things that frustrate and confuse me, that suggests to me there’s probleman information problemand I want to create a graphic that explains it” he said.
 
In the case of the infographic “Stellar Entities,” McCandless was frustrated with how we usually depict the cosmos: as uniform “points of light.” “That disguises the intense, exotic flora and fauna that exist in the cosmos, [like] blazars, quasars, supernovas, molecular clouds...these huge exotic and amazing objects,” he explained. 
 
In the audio slideshow below, McCandless shows Ira how he transformed the Milky Way into a beautiful cosmic bouquet: 
 
 
Special thanks to: David McCandless, Ruth Jobey, Information is Beautiful 
Audio and Video: Annie Minoff 
Photography: Olivier Douliery
About Annie Minoff

Annie Minoff is Science Friday’s SciArts producer. She's visited Olympic ski jumps and a nuclear reactor in the name of science.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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