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The Fundamentals of Everything

Information Graphic,

30" × 40"

2014

In 2012, I became interested in quantum physics after seeing media coverage of the discovery of the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider. I spent many nights reading through wikipedia articles and watching physics documentaries, and I realized that while particle physics is remarkably neat and straightforward, it is also incredibly unintutive and therefore very difficult to explain. While I was no physicist, the challenge of explaining quantum physics seemed like a solvable graphic design problem.

An episode of Brian Cox's documentary series Wonders of the Universe had a particularly memorable explanation of the origins of elements, which I used it as the basis of my design. After several attempts at the subject over the next 2 years, I settled on using a system of expanding regular polygons to represent the creation of elements, and a timeline to illustrate the expansion of the universe.

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Detail

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The Timeline

In the Standard Model, the fundamental particles and their interactions are relatively simple, even if they behave in unintuitive ways. The complexity of the universe is a product of time, so I concluded that a timeline would be the best way of expressing that.

The universe begins with some components and a big bang. Over time, the pieces separate and interact, producing everything we know, and the blue shape behind it represents the expansion of space itself.

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The New Periodic Table

The periodic table is the most recognizable representation of the atomic elements, but while it is perfect for demonstrating their chemical properties, the periodic table doesn't distinguish how the natural elements were created. For my explanation of the universe, I had to design a periodic table of elements that better suited my purposes.

To do this, I used a simple system where each element is represented by a black regular polygon. The element's atomic number determines the number of sides on the polygon, and the element's atomic mass determines the polygon's radius. Finally, the elements are categorized by the processes which created them, and when combined, they cascade into a shape that is both functional and beautiful.