Review on visualization for Nobel Prize.

After announcing Nobel Prize-winners 2013, as many people do, I also had been interested in its history, like that: Why was just he/she picked up for the prize among other contributors of the field? Can we use the number of laureates in a country as a index of the country’s power? Or do the time series of the prize imply changing in requirements for being a big scientist?

And in the loop of searching resources and fiddling with Nobel Prize’s data set, I’d come across some data visualizations on the web, which aim for describing Nobel Prize from various views.

In the three consecutive posts from this, I am going to review these charts.


First, Giorgia Lupi’s elaborate data visualization for Nobel Prizes.

The brainpickings’ post provides the description of it, and the context, but the fundamental caption is that:

 “Visualized for each laureate are prize category, year the prize was awarded, and age of the recipient at the time, as well as principal academic affiliations and hometown. Each dot represents a Nobel laureate, and each recipient is positioned according to the year the prize was awarded (x axis) and his or her age at the time of the award (y axis).”


I want to see only the main, largest chart on the center of the picture.

It seems to be a informative rather than metaphorical presentation: both the color and the rows — the most eye-catching visual cues are  assigned to the categories of Nobel Prize, so that you can see how the data organized on there at a glance.

Rather, this clear structure also takes advantage the common knowledge, I mean, the six categories of the prize are prevailing common knowledge for the people in the world, so people can quickly find it represents six Nobel Prizes that are stacked vertically.

To be specific, the each row contains three different charts, and are join together — time series, bar chart, parallel chord. This is a type of combined visualization, if I call it.

I love the way the bar chats in [].  This not only separate from both sides, but also show me like a connector following cables. And somehow I see the image like a breadboard that are often used for Arduino projects.

(The image came from Wikipedia:ブレッドボード)

(The image came from Wikipedia:ブレッドボード)


If I dare to be picky, I don’t get it why the categories are listed in the order like this; chemistry, economics, physics, literature, physiology or medicine, peace. This seems not to be proper order for me. I think Nobel Prizes can be split into two main boxes, science and humanity. I want to enter economics into science because economists use highly sophisticated mathematics and seek for theories that explain and predict the wold in rigorous form like other science.

So the order should be like that: for science part — physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, economics, and for humanity — literature, then peace.

In fact, the bar charts show us the two boxes here. chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine, and economics share the almost same shapes, which means that being laureates of those prizes require high education profile, meanwhile literature and peace are not so.

This separation also holds true against distribution par universities on rightmost of the row.


And, if I would say more along with the line of tone, I found it is a little bit hard to conceive difference among the time series charts especially which go parallel. If there had been some more color that highlight the outliers, I would see the changes in dispersion over time, then compere with each prizes more easily.


But as a whole, I think this is a nice visualization for summary of distribution of Nobel Prize laureates.

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