The Most Compelling Science Charts of 2022

Words alone cannot capture all the wonder (or horror) of all the stories science had to tell this year. That’s where the graphics come in. Whether it’s visualizing the most important data emerging around the COVID pandemic, explaining some mind-blowing idea in quantum physics, or synthesizing the incredible journey of a parasite through three different hosts, american scientistThe graphic editors at have helped cover a lot of exciting topics this year. Here’s just a small sampling of our favourites.

Two years after COVID, mountains of data

In March we published a special problem about how COVID had changed the world since it was declared a global pandemic two years earlier. The graphics team was already well-versed in visualizing things like COVID infection or death rates, but measuring the broader, more nuanced effects of the pandemic required more research. We worked with three different researchers to collect the most detailed and accurate data we could find to help tell the story of how COVID had impacted everything from the economy to education and, of course, health in the US and abroad. all the world. This chart is just one piece of a broad exploration of the the uneven number of the pandemictold mainly through graphics.

Deviation in Google search intensity.
Credit: Jen Christiansen; Source: “COVID-19 Winners and Losers: Global Evidence from Google Search,” by Kibrom A. Abay at al. Policy Research Working Paper 9268, World Bank Group, Development Economics Development Research Group, June 2020

Omicron variant decoding

As we reflected on the havoc COVID had already wreaked, the virus that causes the disease continued to do its thing: mutate and spread. By early 2022, Omicron had become the dominant strain in the US, its seemingly limitless infectivity surpassing all previous variants. We use graphs to break down Omicron’s triple strategy: wore a costume (is shown on the graph), stabilized its spike protein and snuck into the “side door” of cells in our airways. Fortunately, it also lowered its defenses, making it less deadly than other variants.

Credit: Veronica Falconieri Hays

How Politics Impacts Health

A new investigation revealed that not only people in Republican-leaning US counties die at higher rates than those in Democratic areas, but the gap between the leading causes of death is constant and widening. Data on factors like COVID deaths and firearms helped tell the story of how political choices are hurting people in the most politically conservative pockets of the country.

Credit: Amanda Montañez; Source: “Political environment and death rates in the United States, 2001-19: population-based cross-sectional analysis,” by Haider J. Warraich et al., in bmj, vol. 377. Published online June 7, 2022

Getting hot (in a bad way)

The summer of 2022 was scorching, but the data indicates that it will end up being one of the best of the rest of our lives. american scientistAndrea Thompson’s resident climate expert offered a sober distillation of the science of extreme heat in a world increasingly affected by climate change. The charts in this story reveal how climate and weather trends led to some of the warmest months on record, as well as how future summers are projected to play out.

Changing summer temperatures in US cities.
Credit: Amanda Montañez; Source: Climate Central

Your Periodic Reminder That Parasite Life Cycles Are Insane

Need a break from all the bad news? Here’s a little graphic palate cleanser: we visualize the parasite life cycle solid schistocephalus, which requires ingestion by a copepod, a fish, and a bird, in that order, to survive and reproduce. You’ve never seen something so gross illustrated so beautifully.

Parasite life cycles.
Credit: Daisy Chung

New in Quantum Physics: Telepathy?

For those who like to keep their brains sharp by reading about the latest advances in quantum physics, here’s a mind-blowing achievement: A group of researchers in China conducted an experiment to prove something called quantum pseudotelepathy. Using the framework of a Mermin-Peres magic square, a game in which two players win by correctly guessing each other’s secret moves, this story uses graphics to help explain how players could theoretically employ the rules of quantum mechanics. to share information telepathically. (more or less), bypassing the usual limitations of the game (outlined in the graph).

Graphic of the Mermin-Peres magic square game.
Credit: Lucy Reading-Ikkanda

Deconstructing the spectacular images of the JWST

A American Scientist, we like to visualize many things, but what about visualizing What are things displayed? Yes, we do that too. Some of the most amazing photographs of 2022 come from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which began taking snapshots of the cosmos in unprecedented detail earlier this year. But how, exactly, is the data encoded by this magnificent instrument translated into the beautiful, twinkling images we’ve been drooling over since July? East graphics-focused story reveals the science behind the images, from the four instruments that make up the telescope to the techniques scientists on Earth use to distill the data for the consumption of our human eyes.

JWST Image Chart.
Credit: Jen Christiansen (graphic); Production team from NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI and Webb ERO (image source)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *