Here is a graph I produced today as I was studying some problems I’m interested in. The important thing is not what the graph represents physically: it’s just a bunch of trajectories in a Hamiltonian system. What is interesting is that the patterns look pretty and seem to have meaning.
So what do I mean? You look at it and you can not help yourself from finding a visual pattern in it. To me it looks like a sword and it has an aesthetic of its own. You might have seen a lot of ‘calculations’ turn to art before. For example, the Mandelbrot set and other fractals.
When I write papers and I put plots in them, there is always some choices made to make the plot pretty and relevant. There is this undeniable satisfaction in making the graphs look good.
A not so pretty plot can convey the same information, but it causes a lot less impact on a potential audience. I believe this is one reason why Astronomy is so popular: there are experts in false-coloring graphs taken on invisible light to make stunning pictures. I think that if Astronomy was just a bunch of dots without this image manipulation, people would not feel such a close connection to it.
Please let me know what the graph above means to you. And if you have a science picture that you really love and would like to share it, let me know about it as well in the comments.