In Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, a new visiting exhibit at the Galter Health Sciences Library, maps guide exploration of not only the physical world, but also of abstract ideas.
The 100 maps on display through September 23, 2015 represent a diverse array of human knowledge. One (pictured right) illustrates the relationships between 1,284 human diseases and 1,777 genes by connecting disease nodes that share at least one gene with associated mutations.
Another (pictured left) identifies emerging topics in science and technology based on 16 years of papers cited in Scopus and 3 million patents filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
“This exhibit reveals the power that a good visualization has to convey complex information,” said Kristi Holmes, PhD, director of the Galter Health Sciences Library and associate professor in Preventive Medicine-Health and Biomedical Informatics. “Visualizations tell the story of data in a way that isn’t readily evident when you’re only looking at raw numbers.”
The exhibit is curated by a team of researchers and professionals at the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center (CNS) at Indiana University’s School of Informatics. Every year, they issue a call for maps, peer-review submissions and produce a final set of 10 maps for display in public spaces.
The resulting collection of maps span across disciplines and come from many kinds of authors: NASA and colleagues plot movement of the oceans, the creator of a webcomic explores money and an artist plots the history of science fiction.
“You can really see the diversity of human perspective from how the data are conveyed through these different visualizations,” Holmes said.
Places and Spaces curator Katy Börner, PhD, founding director of the CNS, gave a lecture at Galter Library for the exhibit’s opening reception Thursday.
“The goal of this exhibit is to help people understand the complexity, beauty and value of science,” said Börner, who is also a professor of information science at Indiana University. “The exhibit gives them a ten thousand foot view of science and technology developments and trends.”
Visitors can view the maps and additional exhibit features, including an architectural display of Galter Library through the years and a graphic illustrating Feinberg research, on the library’s second floor.
A short film called Humanexus, which visualizes the evolution of human communication from the Stone Age onward, will also be screened in conjunction with the exhibit.
Members of the Feinberg community who feel inspired to make their own maps can turn to Galter Library’s newMetrics and Impact Core for information; the group creates many of their data visualizations using software developed by Börner’s team. Börner also teaches a free massive open online course (MOOC) on Information Visualization.
Additional talks and events related to the exhibit will be scheduled in the coming months. Check the Galter Library website for announcements.
Funding for Places and Spaces is provided by National Science Foundation grants IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-O534909 and IIS-0715303; the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; and Indiana University’s Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services and the School of Informatics and Computing.