Virus trading cards
April 11 2016
This week’s infographic is a set of virus trading cards! Viruses are surprisingly symmetrical, and I love them because they remind me of a biological version of snowflakes. Each trading card shows you the structure of the viral capsid - the protein shell protecting the genetic material inside a virus. I wanted to make a collection that showcased a variety of viruses that are a current public health concern.
I picked three human diseases that I thought would be particularly relevant - HPV (which causes cervical cancer), Adenovirus (which causes the common cold), and Dengue (a close relative of the Zika virus). Edit: The Zika virus structure was not known at the time. I also included Chlorella Virus (which infects a non-human host) to add more diversity to the trading card collection.
To make these cards I used UCSF Chimera, a molecular modeling program used by many researchers. When scientists discover a new protein structure, they upload it to the Worldwide Protein Data Bank. Each entry is assigned a unique ID number, which you can use to look at the 3D protein model in many different magnifications. In this set of virus trading cards, I decided to show each viral capsid at two different magnifications - a coarse version on the left and a finely detailed version on the right.
- Molecular Modeling: Molecular graphics and analyses were performed with the UCSF Chimera package. Chimera is developed by the Resource for Biocomputing, Visualization, and Informatics at the University of California, San Francisco (supported by NIGMS P41-GM103311).
- Other Sources: Dengue information and structure, HPV information and structure, Adenovirus information and structure, and PBCV-1 information and structure. Fonts used: Abril Fatface Regular by Veronika Burian and Jose Scaglione, Cousine Regular by Ascender Fonts.
Here there be robots: A medieval map of Mars
February 27 2016
Although I’m not an astronomer, I love reading about Mars missions and looking through the free data released by NASA. This month I decided to create a map to showcase the wealth of knowledge scientists have accumulated over the past few decades.
Unlike other planetary maps, this map uses a Victorian style inspired by medieval cartographers. Victorian-style maps are from a time when most of the world remained a mystery, and travelers only knew about nearby lands. Now that people have mapped the entire globe, I think that Mars has taken over our collective imagination as the next mystery to explore. I wanted to use this thematic connection to tie together our history of exploration with our current adventures into unexplored lands.
To make this map I hand-traced topographic data from the USGS Color-Coded Contour Map of Mars to give the map a traditional aesthetic. The hand-traced topographic lines weren’t very exact, so I added an overlay of satellite imagery from the NASA Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter. I also used naming information from the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature and location information from the Mars 1:5 million-scale THEMIS Images.
To add a little something extra, I wanted to share some of the interesting history behind the geographic features on Mars. For example, craters on Mars are named after Earth towns, scientists, or famous artists. In this map I tried to make a strange planet seem familiar by prominently sharing the Earth origins of each crater name.
- Cartography: Color-Coded Contour Map of Mars” USGS Astrogeology Science Center, 2003, “Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature” NASA, USGS Astrogeology Science Center, International Astronomical Union, “Mars 1:5 million-scale THEMIS Images” NASA, USGS Astrogeology Science Center, International Astronomical Union
- Fonts used: Moon Bold by Jack Harvatt, Chipperfield & Bailey by Paul Lloyd, Titania by Dieter Steffman, Antiquarian™ and Antiquarian Scribe™ by Brian Willson, and various elements cannibalized from old maps in the NY Public Library's Digital Collection (1, 2, 3).
Planet Earth Control Deck
January 26 2015
It’s January already, which means it’s tax season! This year I decided to make an infographic celebrating NASA, one of my favorite tax-funded programs in America.
I wanted to show what Earth’s control panel might look like if it was a spaceship piloted by humans. It’s a bit too busy with all the flashing lights, but I was going for a mix between sci-fi and pinball so I’m still pretty happy with how it turned out. All of the data should be scientifically accurate, even if it’s moving too fast to read properly.
This might be the only infographic I post for a while - I’m working on a pretty extensive non-science art project right now, and it’s been taking up a lot of my time. I was also invited to be on the panel of judges for the Malofiej Infographics Summit in Spain, so I’m going to be out of town for few weeks. But I haven’t forgotten about this blog, and I’ll be back soon with more science!
- A lot of data went into this infographic. Here's where I got all the information:
- Hubble/ESA moon rotation video, NASA Visible Earth world rotation video, John Walker Astronomical distance calculator, Weather Underground historical Seattle weather, National Geographic star map, John Walker star location viewer, NASA Earth facts, NASA moon facts, NASA sun facts, US Census Bureau population estimate, European Synchroton Radiation Facility earth core estimate, USC Satellite Database, Voyager photo of Earth.