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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY

Font for Digits Lets Numbers Punch Their Weight

from New Scientist

THE symbols we use to represent numbers are, mathematically speaking, arbitrary. Now there is a way to write numbers so that their areas equal their numerical values. The font, called FatFonts, could transform the art of data visualisation, allowing a single infographic to convey both a visual overview and exact values.

"Scientific figures might benefit from this hybrid nature because scientists want both to see and to read data," says Miguel Nacenta, a computer scientist at the University of St Andrews, UK, who developed the concept with colleagues at the University of Calgary, Canada.

Infographics are all the rage as a means to display information now that computers can gather and sort vast reams of data. However, fancy charts and images often obscure the actual data behind them. To get the best of both worlds, Nacenta's team designed a font in which a 2 has an area exactly twice that of a 1, a 3, triple, and so on.

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