Scientific Visualization

1996 stuff, with links checked and updated in March 1998
Stuttgart links

NASA's list of links

Because mapping is one of my longtime main interests, it would be nice to have some examples of innovative uses of analytical and presentation technologies. One that strikes me as worthwhile is

Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care 1998 (SCI REF G1201 .E5 D3 1998), which does have a few online examples.

A perhaps-trivial example, but illustrative of the sort of ahah! that happens when one encounters a novel way of displaying information: an isochrone map showing "3 minute drive time isochrone around the corner of Wellington Avenue and Upper Cheltenham Place, Bristol."

And it looks like we'll need to consider Java applets, and so should start accumulating links:
A basic Problem which afflicts all in the sciences: we have access to vastly more data than used to be the case, and we have tools that let us manipulate and analyze data, and display and distribute the results, much more rapidly than formerly. Students and practitioners must continually learn and then apply new tools (mostly a matter of software, and thus largely of interface), and need to develop presentation skills as well as analytical acumen.
Making visual representations of data and the results of analyses has become an essential professional skill, but is not generally taught in any systematic way --indeed, seems to be seen as a distraction from important traditional elements of scientific curricula. The complexity (and rapid obsolescence) of software packages complicates the pedagogical problem still further: the student may be taught the ins and outs of a particular product, but what's really needed is to learn the general skills that will facilitate use of any product he or she encounters in later years.

It seems to be tacitly assumed that 'everyone' knows how to use a word processor, and that online help files (and Help Desk personnel) can make up for any deficiencies. The same should be true for spreadsheet programs (number processors, in essence), and could be extended to mathematical software like Maple and Mathematica, but the fact is that computer-based quantitative skills are not widespread among students --or faculty, for that matter. In general, people know what they have to know to get by; it's a time-consuming struggle to learn new tools, and hardly worthwhile unless there's some real application for their powers.

Considering visual web access: Visual Browsing in Web and non-Web Databases from Iowa State

Molecular Expressions Images from the Microscope (there's a Java Virtual Microscope that may be of interest)
If I think about what my most abiding interest in this subject is, it seems to me that it's the significance of pattern, the visual realization of underlying regularities in the complexity of the physical world (though it's clear that the 'regularities' are themselves often complex, chaotically or fractally). I'm interested in all sorts of means to extract and display and analyze patterns, and that must mean I'm also interested in what underlies the patterns themselves --what they express in their regularities, irregularities, deviations from the uniform or the random. 'What underlies' can often be represented mathematically, though I have few skills for sophisticated analysis of that level of order.
I've been interested in pattern for a long time, and in many manifestations, including (to enumerate those which have been especially acute) photographic, cartographic, musical, linguistic, anthropological. New tools that facilitate visual representation and encourage dynamic views are a perennial fascination, and my engagement with computers has often been centered on their (evolving) power to present and manipulate data --to extract and display information.
Quite a few books have influenced my thinking about pattern (D'Arcy Thompson and Edward Tufte are two prominent members of my personal pantheon), and here's another, recently discovered:
 AUTHOR       Stewart, Ian, 1945-
 TITLE        Life's other secret : the new mathematics of the living world 
 PUBLISHER    New York : John Wiley, c1998.
 SUBJECT      Biomathematics.
 Science Library        QH323.5 .S74 1998

Why graphs? What graphs?