Sometimes there's nothing like a great infographic for showing what data only says.

Making scientific data a visual thing can really drive home a truth. It's amazing how saying something without words can be this powerful.

Cold, hard numbers are nice for experts. But how can the rest of us understand them?

Visualizations and infographics are everywhere these days — TV, mobile devices, wherever you look. They seem like a very modern, friendly way of getting a science-y point across. But as the Nature video below explains, they actually have a long history that includes some surprises, including a historical name you may recognize.

Remember Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, the “lady with the lamp"?


She was actually an eminent statistician. Who knew?

Nightingale translated war statistics into something regular folks could understand.

This infographic is her most famous work:

It made its point about the benefits of sanitary practices so eloquently that it changed the way science was done in the 1880s. Even politicians could understand it. (Joke. Well, they could.)

It's easy to understand what it says, once you realize the picture on the right is "before" and the one on the left is “after." The blue area shows preventable diseases that could be controlled by more sanitary practices. “Before" shows the original amount these illnesses, and “after" shows what happened after things got cleaned up. Simple and powerful evidence for her cause.

Another example? The Human Genome Project.

Mapping human and animal genes has involved the collection of a gargantuan amount of data. Infographics to the rescue.

Here's an example. To show the genetic material that a person has in common with a chimp, a dog, a chicken, and a platypus, scientists spun the data into circles that show a human chromosome in the bottom half and any genetic material the animal has in common in the top.

Here, doggie!

Each of the 22 chromosomes has its own colored circle, and there are also circles for the male and female X and Y chromosomes. These circles are used all the time in scientific literature because they make it so easy for scientists to see what they've got.

And check out this more hypnotic, lovely way to show ocean currents.

This beautiful animation of ocean-current data collected by satellites and buoys speaks for itself. This isn't made-up movement. It shows what the data actually says. Wow.

Turning data into animations — OK, cartoons — like this doesn't make light of it.

It just lets more people in on the wonder of discovery.

And now, the video:

Heroes
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelvin Octa from Pexels

Newborn babies don't seem to do much beyond eating and pooping and, of course, hiccupping. A lot. Parenting advice on how to cure a baby's hiccups runs the whole gamut. It's recommended parents try everything from nursing to stop feeding the baby so much, from giving the baby gripe water to letting the hiccups play their course. But when your baby hiccups too much, you shouldn't freak out. There's a good reason why.

A new study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that hiccups play an important role in a baby's development. Researchers from the University College London found 217 babies for their study, but only looked at 13 newborns with persistent hiccups. Ten of those babies hiccupped when they were awake, and three hiccupped during their "wriggly" sleep. We have no idea how the scientists got any work done with all that cuteness lying around.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
popular