A Visual Exploration of Complex Networks

From Seed Magazine:

Complexity is everywhere. It’s a structural and organizational principle that reaches almost every field imaginable, from genetics and social networks to food webs and stock markets. Contemporary scientific and technological accomplishments—including mapping the human genome, decoding neural networks and opening up the ocean to exploration—have seen our ability to generate and acquire information outpace our ability to make sense of it. With a surfeit of facts and few ways to synthesize them, “meaningful information” quickly becomes an oxymoron.

As our cultural artifacts are increasingly measured in gigabytes and terabytes, organizing, sorting and displaying information in an efficient way is crucial to advancing knowledge. From the incredibly vast (the history of science) to the very small (protein complexes), science’s visual dialect renders it both more dynamic and more innovative.

Collected here are a few of the many intriguing, and often beautiful, images that illustrate how the whole is more than the sum of its parts.


This network maps protein function by connecting proteins that share sequence similarity. Each of the 30,727 vertices represents a protein, and each of the 1,206,654 connections represents a similarity in amino acid sequence.

“Since proteins with more sequence similarity are more likely to have related function, the network is a reasonable map of protein function,” said designer Alex Adai. “Different areas of the network tend to emphasize different functional classifications. As a result, one can infer a protein’s function by the coordinate of the protein in the network.”

More here.