It is said that for money you can have everything, but you cannot. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; knowledge, but not wisdom; glitter, but not beauty; fun, but not joy; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; leisure, but not peace. You can have the husk of everything for money, but not the kernel.
— Arne Garborg
The book is about objects that have impact on our world and our lives. "Each chapter of this book examines an object that is driving radical change in the global economy: how we communicate, what we eat, the way we spend our money. The stories are told through global reporting, original photography and illustration by award-winning artists, contributions from business visionaries, data visualization, and interactive features." (Quartz).
My illustration is of the human genome with a focus on the genes that have been implicated in disease.
We have about 30,000 genes and about half of these play some role in disease.
You can peruse what we know about the connection between genetics and illness at the Online Mendelean Inheritance of Man database. For example, a cursory search for "cancer" results in over 3,500 entries.
It's important to realize that these aren't genes that cause disease—its misregulation and mutations in them that are associated with disease (causality is complicated).
The illustration shows the genome as a single line, wound in an Archimedean spiral. Chromosomes 1–22 are shown binned into about 10,000 regions along the spiral. Regions that have genes associated with disease are marked with dots—the size of the dot shows how many such genes are found. Each region corresponds to about 286,000 bases.
We see that in about 73% of the 286 kb regions, there are no genes. In about 18% we see a single gene and in roughly 10% two genes or more.
regions genes 7,321 0 1,812 1 556 2 221 3 85 4 93 5+
Winding the genome up in a spiral creates a compact representation. Squishing a line onto a page can be tricky.
I show several versions of the illustrations below. In the book, the image is printed on a black background.
I've previously taken a more fine-art approach to cover design, such for those of Nature, Genome Research and Trends in Genetics. I've used microscopy images to create a cover for PNAS—the one that made biology look like astrophysics—and thought that this is kind of material I'd start with for the MCS cover.
A map of the nearby superclusters and voids in the Unvierse.
By "nearby" I mean within 6,000 million light-years.
It was now time to design my first ... pair of socks.
In collaboration with Flux Socks, the design features the colors and relative thicknesses of Rogue olympic weightlifting plates. The first four plates in the stack are the 55, 45, 35, and 25 competition plates. The top 4 plates are the 10, 5, 2.5 and 1.25 lb change plates.
The perceived weight of each sock is 178.75 lb and 357.5 lb for the pair.
The actual weight is much less.
Find patterns behind gene expression and disease.
Expression, correlation and network module membership of 11,000+ genes and 5 psychiatric disorders in about 6" x 7" on a single page.
Design tip: Stay calm.
Gandal M.J. et al. Shared Molecular Neuropathology Across Major Psychiatric Disorders Parallels Polygenic Overlap Science 359 693–697 (2018)
We discuss the many ways in which analysis can be confounded when data has a large number of dimensions (variables). Collectively, these are called the "curses of dimensionality".
Some of these are unintuitive, such as the fact that the volume of the hypersphere increases and then shrinks beyond about 7 dimensions, while the volume of the hypercube always increases. This means that high-dimensional space is "mostly corners" and the distance between points increases greatly with dimension. This has consequences on correlation and classification.