Charts are fantastic! And, on the rare occasion that you find an old chart that possesses the charm of a previous era whilst maintaining valuable insights for today’s learners, you’ve found a true treasure.
A few years back, I’d looked for a chart covering electromagnetic radiation for my children, and I’d found some really nice options. One stood out, and while I’m not the only one who liked it, I never pulled the trigger. Again, it’s a very nice poster with nice reviews on Amazon, but it didn’t compel me to spend my money immediately.
Advancing to the current year, I realized my daughters were getting to the age where putting off getting the poster was no longer an option (at least in dad’s eyes,) so I figured I’d take another look to see what I could find. Eventually, I came across an old chart posted to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) flickr account. Quoting the image description:
If you’re into scientific antiques, you have to examine the details in this 1944 poster from the W.M Welch Scientific Company: “Chart of Electromagnetic Radiations.” It was found tucked away in the back of an unused office years ago, but now hangs framed in a high-traffic hallway populated by Lawrence Livermore engineers.
What a marvelous poster. Certainly, this was the poster for which I’d been waiting. Beyond the beautiful presentation, someone had also worked up a nice writeup of the chart’s provenance, which only added to its allure. Sure, Edward Tufte may not have installed this particular chart in his house, but even he would have to concede the impressive level of information density achieved.
Really, it looked like all systems were go. It’s licensed under Creative Commons 2.0, so getting this beautiful chart printed as a large-size poster would be a snap. All I had to do was go to FedEx Office to get some pricing and then quick talk to my beautiful wife. Easy peasy.
Although FedEx had some reasonable pricing, apparently the discussion with the wife posed a greater stumbling block than I had anticipated. Couldn’t she see the beauty of this poster? Why couldn’t we put this baby up on one of our walls as big as it could be printed?
After much bargaining, she agreed to let me put up a poster if I improved the appearance of the chart (it looked old, worn, and dusty to her), and we limited the largest side to 36 inches.
So, after putting in some time in Photoshop, I have a “dusted-off” version of the chart ready for printing. I tried to limit the edits to repairs related to color fading, and some extreme rips, as I thoroughly appreciate the aged appearance of the chart.
Following the license of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s original image upload, this updated version is also licensed by the Creative Commons 2.0 license.
Here’s the link to the full-size image as a JPEG (10000 x 6945 pixels, 50.2 MB.) Enjoy!
Finally, if you make a better version of the chart, I’d love it if you linked to it in the comments so I can negotiate for a larger poster 😉
Update January 19th, 2017:
Ryan from the IEEE History Center commented with a link to another nice writeup on this chart in the January 2017 edition of the Journal of the Caxton Club (starts on page 10.)