A Minor Blow-Up

A minor gripe about the European Southern Observatory’s press coverage of Supernova 1987A. I feel compelled to blog about SN 1987A because today marks the twentieth anniversary of its discovery.

Honestly, I appreciate ESO putting a graph on their web page of images. Even better, it includes color-coded dots with decent labels! But the good news stops there. Two major problems here: the label on the ordinate and the caption for the image.

Why say simply “V Magnitude” when you could add “Brightness” and make the message more clear?

And why cut the caption so short? “Light curve of the Supernova 1987A over a long period of time. Characteristic phases in the evolution of the supernova are indicated.” I mean, “a long period of time”? Just say “more than a decade” (so people don’t have to do the division in their heads). And how ’bout explaining some of those “characteristic phases” while you’re at it? I’d like to know a little more about radioactive tails; they sound kinda interesting.

Anyway, happy birthday, SN 1987A! And many happy returns…

Follow the Arrows

The above image comes from a Vanderbilt Medical Center Reporter article about mathematical modeling the behavior of tumors. Aside from the minuscule size (they seem to have no larger version online), there’s at least one bizarre omission.

In case you can’t read the teeny-tiny text in the image, it says, in clockwise order from top left: “tumor,” “tumor slice,” “tumor in lattice,” “tumor cells,” “mathematical representation of tumor growth and invasion,” and… Nothing. The last image in the series has no label. From the article, you can glean that the final result is a prediction of tumor growth, but it does seem as though that could be directly addressed in the teeny-tiny graphic.

Or maybe the message is that “mathematical representation of tumor growth and invasion” leads to… Pretty flower-like pictures? Small explosions? Low-res graphics and trapped white space?