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# stars: fun

EMBO Practical Course: Bioinformatics and Genome Analysis, 5–17 June 2017.

# visualization + design

The 2017 Pi Day art imagines the digits of Pi as a star catalogue with constellations of extinct animals and plants. The work is featured in the article Pi in the Sky at the Scientific American SA Visual blog.

# $\pi$ Day 2017 Art Posters - Star charts and extinct animals and plants

2017 $\pi$ day
2016 $\pi$ approximation day
2016 $\pi$ day
2015 $\pi$ day
2014 $\pi$ approx day
2014 $\pi$ day
2013 $\pi$ day
Circular $\pi$ art

On March 14th celebrate $\pi$ Day. Hug $\pi$—find a way to do it.

For those who favour $\tau=2\pi$ will have to postpone celebrations until July 26th. That's what you get for thinking that $\pi$ is wrong.

If you're not into details, you may opt to party on July 22nd, which is $\pi$ approximation day ($\pi$ ≈ 22/7). It's 20% more accurate that the official $\pi$ day!

Finally, if you believe that $\pi = 3$, you should read why $\pi$ is not equal to 3.

All art posters are available for purchase.
I take custom requests.

Caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.
—Horace

This year: creatures that don't exist, but once did, in the skies.

And a poem Of Black Body.

This year's $\pi$ day song is Exploration by Karminsky Experience Inc. Why? Because "you never know what you'll find on an exploration".

## create myths and contribute!

Want to contribute to the mythology behind the constellations in the $\pi$ in the sky? Many already have a story, but others still need one. Please submit your stories!

This year's $\pi$ day art goes to space and there finds creatures that once called Earth home.

Well, I don't know if they called it home—at least a few thought it was a terribly inhospitable. All thought it was unforgivingly Darwinian.

Star chart of the first 12,000,000 digits of $\pi$. The 80 constellations honor extinct animals and plants. Azimuthal equidistant projection. (BUY ARTWORK)

## the digits of $\pi$ as a star catalogue

I asked the question: what happens if you interpret the digits of $\pi$ as a catalogue of stars? What would the patterns in the sky look like? And, would they have stories? A couple of weeks later—and a few adventures down the rabbit holes of topographical projections—I found the answer.

The digits of Pi are interpreted as a star catalogue. Starting from the beginning of $\pi$, each block of 12 digits is taken to be the $(x, y, z)$ coordinates of a star and its absolute magnitude, which defines its brightness at a fixed distance. After sampling 12 million digits, which yields 1,000,000 stars, the stars are projected onto the celestial sphere to generate longitude and latitude coordinates from the perspective of an observer who is placed at center of the stars. The distance to the star is used to calculate the apparent magnitude—how bright it will appear on the sky chart.

Star chart of the first 12,000,000 digits of $\pi$. The 80 constellations honor extinct animals and plants. Plate carrée projection. (BUY ARTWORK)
Star chart of the first 12,000,000 digits of $\pi$. The 80 constellations honor extinct animals and plants. Hammer/Aitoff elliptical projection. (BUY ARTWORK)

Of course, a star chart would not be complete without constellations. While the digits of $\pi$ are taken to be a universal catalog of stars, it is up to the observer to subjectively interpret the patterns and find stories in the sky. Among the 40,000 stars drawn in the chart, 80 extinct species are honored as constellations—creatures range across time periods and geographical location and play together in the sky. And much like the constellations that you might have seen in the real sky (the hunter Orion and winged-horse Pegasus) the $\pi$ in the sky patterns represent creatures that do not exist.

The twist? They all once did!

## chart variations

Charts are available in blue, black and white and sepia.

Star chart of the first 12,000,000 digits of $\pi$. The 80 constellations honor extinct animals and plants. Azimuthal equidistant projection. (BUY ARTWORK)
Star chart of the first 12,000,000 digits of $\pi$. The 80 constellations honor extinct animals and plants. Azimuthal equidistant projection. (BUY ARTWORK)

## poetry in the sky

This year's art is accompanied by a poem, Of Black Body, by Paolo Marcazzan. The poem is named after the idealized black body, an idealized material that absorbs all incident radiation.

There's plenty of nothing to see in space, Paolo insists, "there is nothing to see and you are seeing it. A truth that likes it here" and he hopes that you'll be find "drawn into our constellation, and cooling."

## stories in the sky

There are indeed stories in the sky and many of them haven't yet been told. Below are just some of them.

More stories are available in the details about each constellation. There, for each animal you can find the common name, Latin name, when it was extinct and a link to Wikipedia to learn more about the animal. Many have stories which they would love to share with you.

### raphus — egg guardian extraordinaire

Raphus and Pecatonica

The Dodo bird (Raphus cucullatus) is vigilantly guarding his eggs—the clusters of stars just north of &alpha Raphus (the first brightest star in the constellation) and south of β Raphus (the second brightest star). He hardly seems to care about the pestering River Mayfly (Acanthometropus pecatonica), who is trying to draw his attention.

### desmodus — nightly escape attempt

Desmodus

Desmodus, the giant vampire bat (Desmodus draculae) is said to be trying to escape the dome of the sky each night. You might see his shape fluttering up into the top of the northern hemisphere.

### basilosaurus — chasing the light in the deep

Basilosaurus

The king lizard Basilosaurus (Basilosaurus cetoides) dives deeper and deeper at the bottom of the south hemisphere, as he chases the light of the bright magnitude 1.8 star α Basilosaurus, which sits at the very bottom of the chart.

### quagga and aurochs — figuring out the stripes

Quagga and Aurochs

There is plenty of land mass in teh north, where huge creatures like the mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), sturdy aurochs (Bos primigenius) and the comical Quagga (Equus quagga quagga) run again. The Quagga cannot figure out his stripes and is seen frequently talking to the Aurochs, seeking his advice about the predicament of his patterns.

### megalodon, rodhocetus and tecopa — the terror and the terrorized

Megalodon, Rodhocetus and Tecopa

At the tip of the southern hemisphere drama unfolds as the monster shark Megalodon (Carcharodon megalodon) gives chase to the Tecopa pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis calidae) and Rodhocetus (Rodhocetus kasrani). Rodhocetus was an early whale that possessed land mammal characteristics and the story goes that he escaped Megalodon and lived out his life on the land, never returning to the sea.

### camptor, mariana, alaotra and tadorna — I'm not a duck!

The south hemisphere also has plenty of calmer waters, where all manners of floating birds come for a swim and chat. These are represented by the triangular constellations of Camptor (Camptorhynchus labradorius, the Labrador duck), Alaotra grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus), Mariana mallard (Anas oustaleti) and the Korean crested shelduck (Tadorna cristata). Rumor has it Tadorna may have snuck into the sky without permission—while not seen since the 1960’s, some say the duck isn't actually extinct! Alaotra is frustrated that Tadorna seems to get all the attention. Often confused for a duck, Alaotra would love you to know that she's in fact a grebe. She's very proud of this fact, despite of being prone to falls due to some biomechanical issues having to do with foot placement.

### yersinia — don't come close

Yersinia

Don't let Yersinia's small size fool you. The Black Death (Yersinia pestis) may be the smallest creature in the sky, but she'll liquify your insides before you can memorize the 80 constellations. Perhaps out of all the creatures in the sky, this is the one we're happy to see go. But, because it's small, you can never be quite sure Yersinia isn't extinct but merely hiding. Or waiting.

### pipilo — flocking across

Pipilo

Pipilo is a rare flocking constellation and breaks the rule that a constellation should be a single connected component. Its stars are connected a loose pattern of pairs and show a flock of Bermuda towhees (Pipilo naufragus) crossing from the north to south hemispheres.

### o'ahu 'akepa — two is such a lonely number

O'ahu 'akepa

Like Pipilo, the O'ahu 'akepa (Loxops wolstenholmei) is the only other multi-part constellation. Here, a pair of akepas are chatting and spreading rumors that Tadorna isn't actually extinct.

### bron and compsognathus — big brothers and little friends

Bron and Compsognathus

It's hard to be bigger than Bron (Brontosaurus excelsus), who must pay great attention not to step on his frolicking friend Compsognathus (Compsognathus longipes), who seeks to find protection in Bron's shadow. Some believe that if Bron stretches his neck, he can look above the sky!

### pinta and cylindraspis — a friend for the end of the earth

Pinta and Cylindraspis

Ever since Cylindraspis (Cylindraspis indica) heard that Pinta (Chelonoidis abingdonii) was the last of his kind, he decided to keep him company. They can be seen going for a very slow walk at the bottom of the sky, kept their by their heavy shells. The last Pinta—a turtle named Lonesome George—died in 2012.

### xerces and Palaeoaldrovanda — flying flowers and hungry flowers

Xerces and Palaeoaldrovanda

Xerces (Glaucopsyche xerces) is the only thing that is more brilliant than the blue sky itself. Some say that butterflies are flying flowers and Xerces is never seen far from Palaeoaldrovanda. He must be careful though. Rumor has it Palaeoaldrovanda was related to the carnivorous plant genus Aldrovanda! Nobody wants to take that chance.

### araucaria — shelter for flying customers

Araucaria

Xerces (Glaucopsyche xerces) is the only thing that is more brilliant than the blue sky itself. Some say that butterflies are flying flowers and Xerces is never seen far from Palaeoaldrovanda. He must be careful though. Rumor has it Palaeoaldrovanda was related to the carnivorous plant genus Aldrovanda! Nobody wants to take that chance.

### araucaria — too large for the sky

Araucaria

Araucaria (Araucaria mirabilis) is truly a marvel and it is too big to fit in the sky! The constellation only shows the canopy and does not include the tree trunk—which was known to reach a height of 100 m. Araucaria offers plenty of protection and has many flying friends all around, including Urania, Moho and WhĒkau. Just a little further are the ducks (and a grebe), Camptor, Mariana, Tadorna and Alaotra. They would love to visit Araucaria but worry that they are too heavy to perch on her branches.

### ardea and aepyronis — who can see beyond the sky first?

Ardea and Aepyronis

The story goes that Camelops (Camelops kansansus) played a joke on Ardea (Ardea bennuides) and Aepyronis (Aepyornis maximus). He said "You both have long necks. But who has the longest? The first who can stretch far enough and tell me what is beyond the sky wins." To this day, Both Ardea and Aepyronis are seen straining their necks trying to win the bet.

VIEW ALL

# Happy 2017 $\pi$ Day—Star Charts, Creatures Once Living and a Poem

Tue 14-03-2017

on a brim of echo,

capsized chamber
drawn into our constellation, and cooling.
—Paolo Marcazzan

Celebrate $\pi$ Day (March 14th) with star chart of the digits. The charts draw 40,000 stars generated from the first 12 million digits.

12,000,000 digits of $\pi$ interpreted as a star catalogue. (details)

The 80 constellations are extinct animals and plants. Here you'll find old friends and new stories. Read about how Desmodus is always trying to escape or how Megalodon terrorizes the poor Tecopa! Most constellations have a story.

Find friends and stories among the 80 constellations of extinct animals and plants. Oh look, a Dodo guardings his eggs! (details)

This year I collaborate with Paolo Marcazzan, a Canadian poet, who contributes a poem, Of Black Body, about space and things we might find and lose there.

Check out art from previous years: 2013 $\pi$ Day and 2014 $\pi$ Day, 2015 $\pi$ Day and and 2016 $\pi$ Day.

# Data in New Dimensions: convergence of art, genomics and bioinformatics

Tue 07-03-2017

Art is science in love.
— E.F. Weisslitz

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of our stereoscopic images which were at display at the AGBT 2017 Conference in February. The art is a creative collaboration with Becton Dickinson and The Linus Group.

Its creation began with the concept of differences and my writeup of the creative and design process focuses on storytelling and how concept of differences is incorporated into the art.

Oh, and this might be a good time to pick up some red-blue 3D glasses.

A stereoscopic image and its interpretive panel of single-cell transcriptomes of blood cells: diseased versus healthy control.

# Interpreting P values

Thu 02-03-2017
A P value measures a sample’s compatibility with a hypothesis, not the truth of the hypothesis.

This month we continue our discussion about $P$ values and focus on the fact that $P$ value is a probability statement about the observed sample in the context of a hypothesis, not about the hypothesis being tested.

Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Interpreting P values. (read)

Given that we are always interested in making inferences about hypotheses, we discuss how $P$ values can be used to do this by way of the Benjamin-Berger bound, $\bar{B}$ on the Bayes factor, $B$.

Heuristics such as these are valuable in helping to interpret $P$ values, though we stress that $P$ values vary from sample to sample and hence many sources of evidence need to be examined before drawing scientific conclusions.

Altman, N. & Krzywinski, M. (2017) Points of Significance: Interpreting P values. Nature Methods 14:213–214.

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2017) Points of significance: P values and the search for significance. Nature Methods 14:3–4.

Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2013) Points of significance: Significance, P values and t–tests. Nature Methods 10:1041–1042.

# Snellen Charts—Typography to Really Look at

Sat 18-02-2017

Another collection of typographical posters. These ones really ask you to look.

Snellen charts designed using physical constants, Braille and elemental abundances in the universe and human body.

The charts show a variety of interesting symbols and operators found in science and math. The design is in the style of a Snellen chart and typset with the Rockwell font.

# Essentials of Data Visualization—8-part video series

Fri 17-02-2017

In collaboration with the Phil Poronnik and Kim Bell-Anderson at the University of Sydney, I'm delighted to share with you our 8-part video series project about thinking about drawing data and communicating science.

Essentials of Data Visualization: Thinking about drawing data and communicating science.

We've created 8 videos, each focusing on a different essential idea in data visualization: encoding, shapes, color, uncertainty, design, drawing missing or unobserved data, labels and process.

The videos were designed as teaching materials. Each video comes with a slide deck and exercises.

# P values and the search for significance

Mon 16-01-2017
Little P value
What are you trying to say
Of significance?
—Steve Ziliak

We've written about P values before and warned readers about common misconceptions about them, which are so rife that the American Statistical Association itself has a long statement about them.

This month is our first of a two-part article about P values. Here we look at 'P value hacking' and 'data dredging', which are questionable practices that invalidate the correct interpretation of P values.

Nature Methods Points of Significance column: P values and the search for significance. (read)

We also illustrate how P values can lead us astray by asking "What is the smallest P value we can expect if the null hypothesis is true but we have done many tests, either explicitly or implicitly?"

Incidentally, this is our first column in which the standfirst is a haiku.

Altman, N. & Krzywinski, M. (2017) Points of Significance: P values and the search for significance. Nature Methods 14:3–4.