Hans Rosling Had a Way of Showing the Meaning In Data. We’ll Miss Him.

An affectionate sendoff for popular beloved global-health statistician Hans Rosling.

The world is going to miss Hans Rosling, the preternaturally entertaining Swedish statistician who died in February 2017. The man had a brilliant way of bringing dry statistics down to our level and helping us see the meaning behind them. He taught global health at Karolinska Institutet in Solna, Sweden, and gave a series of memorable TED talks.


Rosling was also one of the founders of Gapminder, an incredible “fact-tank” — as opposed to “think tank” — whose mission is supplanting the wealth of disinformation floating around out there with actual, data-backed facts. It’s eye-opening and a ton of fun if you like knowing things. Much like Rosling himself.

As a tribute to Rosling, here are some of the big truths he told in data.

1) The entire world is moving towards health and wealth.

Watch this. It shows how overall, though plenty of troubling disparities remain, the world has moved toward health and wealth in the last 200 years. And it’s a great example of how Rosling makes statistics so much fun and easy to understand.

2) There’s a connection between child survival rates and a strong economy.

Survival rates and a strong economy go hand-in-hand, though, as Rosling says, “It seems you can move much faster if you’re healthy first than if you’re wealthy first.” He notes that a decrease in Asian family size was followed by the area’s economic boom, and asserts further that wealth without an investment in health apparently can’t even last.

3) Family planning never happens until there’s a reasonable expectation that each child will survive.

Historically, it’s always required certainty that one’s children will survive before parents feel confident enough to stop having “spares.” Couples can only stop at their desired family size when there’s a reasonable expectation everyone is here to stay. Rosling shows how this has worked in the past, in his explanation of why the world population is pretty guaranteed to hit 11 billion and stay there for a while.

4) There’s a connection between poverty, survival rates, and family size.

Families grow in size when their children are likely to die in poverty. The reason? Couples feel the need to have a lot of kids just to ensure they have a family.

5) As a result of ongoing poverty, the population of Africa is expanding brutally.

While Asia’s population is leveling out as health increases and economies there thrive, the situation in Africa remains precarious. Ongoing poverty resulting from a range of factors keeps communities poor, child survival rates low, and families large.

6) International aid is the most practical way to control world population and promote well-being, and we’re making progress.

When international aid helps ensure that more kids survive, families eventually shrink in size, and economies expand, as the data shows over and over again. And there’s good news.

Tesla introduces new Model 3 at $45,000

The new version's battery has a shorter range and a price $4,000 lower than the previous starting price.

Tesla Model 3 (Photo: Tesla)
Technology & Innovation
  • Tesla's new version of the Model 3 costs $45,000 and can travel 260 miles on one charge.
  • The Model 3 is the best-selling luxury car in the U.S.
  • Tesla still has yet to introduce a fully self-driving car, even though it once offered the capability as an option to be installed at a future date.
Keep reading Show less
Mind & Brain
  • When it comes to educating, says Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, a brave failure is preferable to timid success.
  • Fostering an environment where one isn't afraid to fail is tantamount to learning.
  • Human beings are complicated and flawed. Working with those complications and flaws leads to true knowledge.
Keep reading Show less

Denmark has the flattest work hierarchy in the world

"It's about having employees that are empowered."

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
popular

Denmark may be the birthplace of the Lego tower, but its workplace hierarchy is the flattest in the world.

According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2018, the nation tops an index measuring "willingness to delegate authority" at work, beating 139 other countries.

Keep reading Show less

The surprising psychology of sex with your ex

We all know sleeping with your ex is a bad idea, or is it?

Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • In the first study of its kind, researchers have found sex with an ex didn't prevent people from getting over their relationship.
  • Instead of feeling worse about their breakup after a hookup, the new singles who attempted sexual contact with their ex reported feeling better afterwards.
  • The findings suggest that not every piece of relationship advice is to be taken at face value.
Keep reading Show less

Yes, Mega Millions just passed $1 billion. What does that look like?

It's hard to imagine such a number. But these images will help you try.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Megamillions_tickets.jpg
News/Social

The Mega Millions lottery just passed $1 billion for tonight's drawing.

What does that even look like, when represented by various currencies?

It takes just 6 numbers to win. You can only, however, purchase tickets up until 10:45 ET tonight.

Keep reading Show less

Relationship hack: Why class clowns make better partners

Want a happy, satisfying relationship? Psychologists say the best way is to learn to take a joke.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • New research looks at how partners' attitudes toward humor affects the overall quality of a relationship.
  • Out of the three basic types of people, people who love to be laughed at made for better partners.
  • Fine-tuning your sense of humor might be the secret to a healthy, happy, and committed relationship.
Keep reading Show less

Single algae cells can help deliver targeted medicine

Tiny and efficient, these biodegradable single cells show promise as a way to target hard-to-reach cancers.

Credit: O. Yasa et al./Adv. Mater.
Surprising Science
  • Scientists in Germany have found a potential improvement on the idea of bacteria delivering medicine.
  • This kind of microtargeting could be useful in cancer treatments.
  • The microswimmers are biodegradable and easy to produce.

Metin Sitti and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute in Germany recently demonstrated that tiny drugs could be attached to individual algae cells and that those algae cells could then be directed through body-like fluid by a magnetic field.

The results were recently published in Advanced Materials, and the paper as a whole offers up a striking portrait of precision and usefulness, perhaps loosely comparable in overall quality to recent work done by The Yale Quantum Institute. It begins by noting that medicine has been attached to bacteria cells before, but bacteria can multiply and end up causing more harm than good.

A potential solution to the problem seems to have been found in an algal cell: the intended object of delivery is given a different electrical charge than the algal cell, which helps attach the object to the cell. The movement of the algae was then tested in 2D and 3D. (The study calls this cell a 'microswimmer.') It would later be found that "3D mean swimming speed of the algal microswimmers increased more than twofold compared to their 2D mean swimming speed." The study continues —

More interestingly, 3D mean swimming speed of the algal microswimmers in the presence of a uniform magnetic field in the x-direction was approximately threefolds higher than their 2D mean swimming speed.

After the 2D and 3D speed of the algal was examined, it was then tested in something made to approximate human fluid, including what they call 'human tubal fluid' (think of the fallopian tubes), plasma, and blood. They then moved to test the compatibility of the microswimmer with cervical cancer cells, ovarian cancer cells, and healthy cells. They found that the microswimmer didn't follow the path of bacteria cells and create something toxic.

The next logical steps from the study include testing this inside a living organism in order to assess the safety of the procedure. Potential future research could include examining how effective this method of drug delivery could be in targeting "diseases in deep body locations," as in, the reproductive and gastrointestinal tracts.

Gary Shteyngart: reality catches up to dystopian fiction

Our modern-day Kafka on his new novel Lake Success and the dark comedy that in 2018 pretty much writes itself

Technology & Innovation
  • riding the Greyhounds of hell, from New York to El Paso
  • the alternate reality of hedge fund traders
Keep reading Show less