Visualizing the Invisible With Analog Devices

Visualizing the Invisible With Analog Devices

We live in an intensely digital world, and almost all of the visualizations and data we encounter are created or recorded by a computer. Still, there are devices that collect and “visualize” parts of the world around us. They turn things that are ordinarily invisible (electricity, magnetism, pressure, time) into things we can see, so that we can reason about them more effectively.

These tools fit into three different categories: the first two are devices whose names often end in -meter and -graph (we’ll call them meters and graphs), and the third category is physical and chemical processes.

Meters don’t always do much visualization. In fact, they often do the opposite of visualization, quantifying something that is already visual. Graphs can record data, and typically show a time series in a line chart. Physical and chemical processes make stuff visible using the properties of a material.


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