Circular data waves

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Our work shows that infection is a cycle, where the symptoms of a recovered person end up essentially where they started.   To visualize this, I wanted to plot the data as a circle. I thought about printing a ring for each time point in the infection that changed height to report the value of each symptom. I also wanted to see the future, which would have me printing a ring for each of the 22 time points for each point in the future that I wanted to see. I would be printing for at least a week. Instead, I animated this by making a custom peg board with 12 radii containing 14 holes each. I made a peg with a length corresponding to the value for each symptom at each of the 22 time points. I didn’t stop to calculate how long it would take me to move the 168 rods found in each frame (~13.6 minutes, as it happens).

This graph shows what happens to mice when they start healthy, get malaria and recover.  You read this graph by looking at the central circle.  In the beginning, the animal is healthy and all symptoms are low.  The first symptoms to spike are NK cells and parasites.  The other symptoms follow with gamma delta T cells being the last to peak and resolve.  I tracked 22 time points in this movie, though you can see only 14 at a time; I couldn’t fit in any more holes on the board with my small drill press.

With many diseases, we develop immunity after a single bout.  Malaria is different; this repetitive infection cycle is what kids face in malarious countries.

In my dreams, I hoped to see waves for each symptom moving towards the center of the graph and a spiral wave moving around the donut. The inward movement is brutally clear and I wouldn’t want to be the patient battered by those waves. The spiral nature of these waves isn’t that obvious. I’m thinking that a simple circular heat map might do a better job of that because you could look straight down on it.   I could try shooting this animation from a steeper angle but then I will not be able to see the height of the waves as easily and it means another 5 hours of moving those dowels one at a time.

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