Seeing is Believing

FEATURESeeing is Believing © ROBIN LYNNE GIBSON/GETTYGraphical presentation strives to make sense of exploding quantities of data BY ANNE HARDING The amount of information life scientists have at their fingertips has mushroomed and continues to grow. In a bid to better access and manipulate this flood of information rather than suffocate on its abundance, researchers are turning to evolving visual techniques. Without them, mor

Anne Harding
Apr 1, 2006
FEATURE
Seeing is Believing
Seeing is Believing
© ROBIN LYNNE GIBSON/GETTY

Graphical presentation strives to make sense of exploding quantities of data

The amount of information life scientists have at their fingertips has mushroomed and continues to grow. In a bid to better access and manipulate this flood of information rather than suffocate on its abundance, researchers are turning to evolving visual techniques. Without them, more data won't necessarily translate into better science.

These data visualization approaches involve finding ways to express massive quantities of information so that humans can comprehend them and spot patterns that provide information about the underlying system. Many projects are generating this escalating amount of data, including whole genomes, the human interactome (a map of every possible protein-protein interaction that could eventually contain some 1 billion interactions), and atlasing efforts such as mapping gene expression during Caenorhabditis elegans embryogenesis or in the human brain during different types of...