Sunday, May 25, 2014

Explaining Snow, Minard, and Nightingale

Big Bang Data // Visualizaciones históricas a través de mapas gráficos (Voe eng) from CCCB on Vimeo.

The Big Bang Data exhibit, which you can visit if you go to Barcelona before October, or to Madrid between February and May 2015, showcases some classic visualizations, such as John Snow's cholera map, Charles Joseph Minard's Napoleon's Russian campaign chart, and Florence Nightingale coxcombs. I was in asked to explain how to read them, and their historical significance. The video above is in Spanish, but it has English subtitles.

(Side note: In the video you'll see me wearing another t-shirt from my collection, the one with Darwin's popular sketch of the tree of evolution.)

UPDATE: A student of mine, David Gisbert, has visited the exhibit. He sent me a couple of photographs:


  1. Hi, Professor Cairo,
    Great t-shirt, “I think”.
    I love these drawings and data visualisations that change the current scientific paradigm, like Galileo’s moon drawings or Darwin’s dendrogram and, of course, Snow’s map.
    There is one map that I think could be part of this select group, and I believe you know it: the map of seafloor made by Marie Tharp. She put the “slices” of the ocean floor (recorded using sonar) side by side and discovered de mid-ocean ridge, a discovery that changed the current scientific view regarding the immobility of continents and proofed that Wegener was correct. Here’s the story:

  2. I was not aware of Tharp's work. It's beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Dear Professor, I think you would appreciate this website where you can find Minard's numerized maps. His work has been numerized by the Ecole des Ponts where he studied.
    F. Bordignon (one of your ddjmooc student...)

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