This week I worked with the delightful Daniel Grushkin on his feature BBW story about Bokan Mountain. Worth about 9 BILLION DOLLARS it’s full of precious heavy rare earth elements in Alaska.
While we were chatting it was clear this was going to get nerdy fast. The periodic table of elements is beautiful (and if you’re not familiar with how it was originally created I recommend this radio lab episode). I was fasinated that these rocks’ values go beyond their innate market price and their applied uses range from iphones to night vision goggles to Priuses.
Cobbling together notes from a U.S. Energy Department report I created this word map of they heavy rare earths and their applications.
But as I started to design the chart in InDesign two things were clear:
- The chart was better as a hand drawn graphic…
- This idea is basically a big fuck you to the reader. I mean really. This is getting crazy.
So, I went back to the periodic table. Of the 17 rare earths, we had photos of 16 (sorry Pm). By placing them on a simple grid and a black background it somehow made the rocks SEXY. Also, bringing back a hint of the word map was important—a few choice words gravitating towards their element made them sexy AND smart rocks.
So if this isn’t evidence that I over think things I don’t know what is. Time to relax and start a new issue.