At BBC News, Professor Marcus du Sautoy of the University of Oxford writes about diagrams that have substantially changed the way people look at the world or processed information. Pictured above is one created by Florence Nightingale, depicting fatalities among British forces from April 1854 through March 1855 during the Crimean War:
Although better known for her contributions to nursing, her greatest achievements were mathematical. She was the first to use the idea of a pie chart to represent data.
Nightingale had discovered that the majority of deaths in the Crimea were due to poor sanitation rather than casualties in battle. She wanted to persuade government of the need for better hygiene in hospitals.
She realised though that just looking at the numbers was unlikely to impress ministers. But once those numbers were translated into a picture - her Diagram of the Causes of Mortality in the Army in the East - the message could not be ignored. A good diagram, Nightingale discovered, is certainly worth 1,000 numbers.
On the chart, blue areas represent deaths by preventable diseases, red areas represent deaths by wounds, and black areas represent deaths by other causes.
Link via The Presurfer | Image: Dynamic Diagrams