I’ve been dabbling in data visualization using Tableau over the past year, and trying to find a way to incorporate the software into my research. Tableau is well-crafted for making polished and accessible graphs and visualizations, but often if I’m working on a academic paper or presentation it doesn’t integrate naturally into the traditional publication format (i.e. LaTeX or slideshow). One of the big literature reviews that I did this year was focused on the scalar meson states below 2 GeV, and how the identification of these states as quark-antiquark meson states is difficult to reconcile with the patterns we see in the data. I thought this might be an interesting subject to craft a short dataviz presentation about because I find the nonet diagrams to be beautiful representations of the mathematical group structure underlying QCD (regardless of your familiarity with group theory).
In the Data Story, the first few slides are primarily background information and a (brief!) introduction to quarks as well as the internal structure of protons, neutrons, and other hadrons. The nonet diagrams are a modification of spider-plots in Tableau, which are not a native feature and require calculating a coordinate transformation to feed into Tableau, in which I used a radial dimension to indicate the relative mass differences between the states. I’m not completely convinced this is the best way to display this information, but I love how it plays off of the traditional Eightfold Way representation of the hadronic states rooted in group theory. I also augmented these plots with some basic line plots in order to better show the differences in mass hierarchy between the pseudoscalar/vector systems and the scalar system.
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