Today let’s travel through time to learn about diagrams and the role they’ve played in communicating information and scientific knowledge.
The tour guide today is Clarissa Ai Ling Lee, a PhD candidate in the Literature Program at Duke University. This spring Lee was a guest contributor to Scientific American. In her three-part series, The Art and Science of the Diagram, Lee explains how diagrams have been used to communicate information about astrology, astronomy, geography, human anatomy, the physical sciences, the life sciences and, of course, natural history.
Lee begins her series by explaining how diagrams are used in math and physics and how they help to describe the invisible. In Part II of her series, she discusses natural history art, how diagrams of organisms transitioned from being abstract to representational during the Renaissance, and how cabinets of curiosities were their own form of diagram. And finally in Part III, Lee takes a look a volvelles, pop-up books and how a new technique called perspective changed scientific illustration during the Renaissance.
An informative series about how drawing has been used in the sciences,
Lee’s series can be read online at Scientific American. Follow these links:
- The Science and Art of the Diagrams: Culturing Physics and Mathematics, Part 1 (March 2013)
- The Science and Art of Diagramming: Culturing Life and Chemical Sciences, Part 2 (April 2013)
- The Art and Science of the Diagram: Communicating the Knowledge of the Heavens, the Earth and the Arcane, Final Part (May 2013)
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