Hypnotic Animations Show Why Trees Depend on Forest Fires


Eleanor Lutz is a matchmaker, but not for people. Instead she pairs knotty scientific topics with sublime visuals and publishes them on her blog, Tabletop Whale. And these aren’t random setups: She once illustrated the topography of Mars as a Victorian-era explorer’s map, connecting two periods of voyaging and discovery. Ikea assembly guides inspired an infographic on embryonic development. Recently she hitched diagrams of viruses to a trading card motif because, like baseball players or Pokémon species, each virus has a unique profile.

Lutz’s latest setup involves a category of plants that need fire to survive. Fire ecology, as it’s known among scientists, acknowledges wildland fires as instrumental to a functioning ecosystem—a point of view likely lost on most. “Most people tend to think about natural events from mostly a human perspective—like how forest fires or…



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