Critique-II: Good One

February 15, 2010

in Student Posts

Group Members:

Jee Young Moon and Chaman Singh Verma

Source : 2nd Visualization: Big Bang

( Acknowledgment) Images are taken from Google site.



We like this visualization because its contents carry  lots of information in space efficient manner.  With an effective integration of colors, words, and geometry make this visualization to describe a story around it and it supports Tufte’s argument that visualization must augment rational thinking.

1. Problem Definition:

In cosmology, there are many great experimental and theoretical results to substantiate the facts that Universe is expanding with the Big Bang. The problem is to show pictorially the entire knowledge to explain this natural phenomenon.

Source of this Visualization:


Scientific American Magazine ( Issue # is not known, circa 2004)

Targeted Audience :


General public who is interested in science but with probably less formal education the field of  cosmology.

2. Abstraction

  1. Time:    Universe is continuously expanding with time.
  2. Location:    Galaxies are running away from each other in higher dimension but for human understanding we can assume it to be in three dimensions.
  3. Geometrical  Shape :    Assuming the universe is expanding as balloon shape with time.
  4. Empty Space:      Dark energy is pervading in the universe,

3. Mapping and Encoding:

  1. Time is shown in the Z-Axis in increasing order.
  2. At any given instance of time, XY plane show the locations of  galaxies and starts.
  3. Dark energy is shown with the black color and different galaxies are  shown with different colors depending on their age.
  4. Expansion is shown in the shape of a balloon by bounding curves.
  5. Ever expanding nature is shown by the arrows in the picture.
  6. Text as additional information. It also shows composition of the universe in a separate pie chart and experimental measurements to support universe expansion.
  7. Translucent color in balloon shape is used to show the past universe.  An vivid 5 billion ago universe in the visualization exemplify this effectively.

4.  Other choices:

  1. This visualization doesn’t show or reveal the information that galaxies are running away from each other or stars are born and die. There is no mapping  between the two instances of galaxies positions.
  2. Instead of showing expansion of universe as in the open-ended cone shaped balloon, this visualization were more effective if we had chosen closed shaped balloon or sphere.

5. Comparison with our mapping

We believe that mapping a 3-dimensional phenomenon into 2-dimensional paper/screen is difficult, therefore the present visualization is probably better than ours. Since they dissect it by time, they effectively show 3-dimension.

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