Relativity's Reach

visualizing the resonance of Einstein's theory of general relativity

Date: Summer 2015
For: Scientific American

2015 marked the 100-year anniversary of the General Theory of Relativity, which Albert Einstein proposed after publishing the Field Equations of Gravitation paper in November 1915. Scientific American approached OCR to create a visualization that explores the impact of the general theory. After researching available data, we decided to create a visualization that takes a snapshot of scientific research a century after the general theory was proposed, to show which areas of physics research derived from the general theory are most active a hundred years later.

We created a three-dimensional landscape of scientific papers tagged with the General Relativity - Quantum Cosmology category on, a database which contains scientific papers that have been published or are under peer review. Using a list of about sixty keywords of subjects that relate to general relativity, we analyzed papers and grouped them according to which keywords they contained. More popular keywords have more papers near them, which push up to form “peaks” of the most popular keywords, like black holes and spacetime. The print visualization, as well as an interactive version, are on Scientific American’s website.

For a deeper look into our process, take a look at thispost on Medium.