THE DATA CENTRIC UNIVERSE
A map of the known universe
The November 2011 edition of Popular Science magazine was an issue all about data. Several top data visualizers from all over the world were asked to make a contribution to this edition, of which I was honored to be part of. My responsibility was to create two images of the known universe; one image of the known universe in 1950, and the other one in 2011.
THE KNOWN UNIVERSE
Scientists have been exploring the universe for centuries, and a lot was already known in 1950, but since 1950 modern telescopes have been used which allowed scientists to look much furter into space. The majority of the known usniverse has been discovered since 1950.
For this project I received a very large Excel file containing all the objects in space, with their corresponding name, location and discovery year. I used this data to create a projection of the universe to a 2 dimensional plane. Each of the light rings in the visualizations marks a factor 10 lightyears away. Using this logarithmic scale allowed for showing both objects nearby, such as the planets in our own solar system, as well as the galaxies and quasars that are most distant to us. The Earth is in the center of the image.
The visualization has been built in Processing.
Besides a print version for the magazine, Popular Science also has a web and an iPad version of their magazine. For the interactive versions I created a zoomable image of both the 2011 universe and the 1950 univers, similar to how Google Maps works. On the iPad users can pinch to zoom. The number of visible labels depends on the zoom level. When a user clicks or taps on a specially marked object, an image and some additional information is shown.
IN THE MEDIA
- exhibited at Ars Electronica, Austria, September 2012