The Beauty of Diagrams

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Series in which the mathematician Marcus du Sautoy explores the stories of some of the best known scientific diagrams.

Vitruvian Man – looks at the world famous Leonardo da Vinci’s diagram of the perfect human body, which has many layers of anatomy of architecture, and defines our species like no other before or after drawing.

The Vitruvian Man, produced in the 1480s when he lived and worked in Milan, has become one of the world’s most famous images.

Leonardo’s drawings form a vast work, covering every conceivable topic in spectacular detail: from the feet, hands, skulls and muscles and tendons, heart and lungs to buildings, bridges and flying machines.

Copernicus – The Polish priest and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus developed his extraordinary theory of a universe centered on the sun 500 years, was flying in the face of science and religion. Humanity had believed for thousands of years the Earth was the center of the cosmos, and not according to the risk was ridicule and accusations of heresy.

Newton’s Prism – A mid-1660s, Isaac Newton bought a pair of prisms in a show near Cambridge, which would be the basis of a series of experiments have unlocked a secret that had occupied scientists for centuries – the nature of light itself.

To explain what he had done, Newton created a diagram. The experiment is called an image is crucial and fundamental in the history of science, a time chart when the ancient world was overturned by modern science. Newton showed that white light is not pure, but made up of a number of different colors, the colors of the rainbow.

Florence Nightingale – Can a plot to save lives? Florence Nightingale is best known as the Lady of the Lamp, who cared for thousands of soldiers in atrocious conditions during the Crimean War of 1854-6. What is less known is that he was an exceptional statesman, and the first to use a statistical graph as a call to action.

After the war, Nightingale wrote a report on the passion of the soldiers had died in such large numbers and revealed the astonishing fact that 18,000 deaths, 16,000 were caused by infectious diseases in the hospital rather than battle wounds .

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