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Don't Go Bananas Over Radiation

In light of current events, the topic of radiation and its consequences is in the media spotlight. There is a plethora of information available on the radiation levels we are likely to encounter on a regular basis, as well as sources of radiation that are unlikely to affect the greater population. This data can become a source of fear-mongering among hypochondriacs and plebeians alike, which is why I created this infographic to put this esoteric radiation data into an easily digestible format and hopefully put radiation into perspective. The basis of the analysis of radiation levels in this graphic is based on the radiation emitted by an innocuous item, a banana. A fraction of all potassium atoms are unstable isotopes; the high potassium content in bananas make them one of the more radioactive foods, emitting approximately 0.0007 mSv of radiation. By obtaining the radiation levels of various things, those we expect radiation from and those we don’t, I related the radiation dosage in terms of the number of bananas a person would need to consume to be exposed to an equivalent amount of radiation. The goal I hoped to achieve with my infographic was to show that encountering radiation in our lives should not be a source of worry by relating a serious subject to something banal and vaguely amusing. My visualization of the presentation evolved drastically as I gathered information and encountered limitations presented both by image editing mediums and especially my own skill set. At first I imagined using individual banana counts to show equivalences, but the large values of some of my data points made this a cumbersome option. I then attempted to use a dial chart to create a ‘banan-o-meter’ but once again, my limited ability kept me from creating a cohesive graphic. Through trial and error, I created a graphic that combined both the concept of equivalence and the establishment of a point of reference for the consequences of radiation.
I attempted to incorporate Robin Williams’ four principles of design (C.R.A.P.) in my graphic. I created contrast to attract and hold visual interest by juxtaposing a neutral gray background against a vibrant orange color in the graphic and text. I felt that this combination was contradictory enough to distinguish my visual elements but not so much as to blind my audience. The contrast between a cool gray and a vibrant oranges, greens, and yellows is an element I repeated in my graphic. Another repetitive element was scale format of my graphic and the images of bananas. I feel that this repetition creates cohesiveness visually, as well as in my argument. The alignment of my graphic is simple and concise, a circular format to create movement of the eye to connect all elements and the placement of my reference point (radiation sickness dosage) in the center target position of my image. This circular configuration also incorporates proximity into my graphic, linking the radiation equivalents of similar items together and simultaneously separating them from the reference point image. Overall, I feel that these elements allowed my image to become an informational graphic.

Data Sources:
Image Sources (all from creative commons searches, licensed for reuse)
TSA scanner:
Smoke detector:
CT Scan:
Nuclear Reactor:


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