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The 14 Best Visual Capitalist Infographics of 2014



The 14 Best Visual Capitalist Infographics of 2014
For the final post of 2014, we’ve decided to come up with a list of the best original infographics of 2014 that were posted on the site. We based the list on a variety of criteria including views, comments from our audience, social media shares, and our own subjective opinion.

Click on any link below to visit the full version of each infographic on the list.

Also, if you don’t already get our daily infographics and other visual content, make sure you connect with us here.

14. How 3D Printing is Shaping Business

How 3D Printing is Shaping Business

Our 3D Printing infographic showed how additive manufacturing technology works, as well as how it may impact industries in the future. While consumer electronics is currently the biggest market with 22% market share, as adoption increases, 3D printing is expected to set to change the business of medicine, defense, vehicle manufacturing, jewelry, and much more.

13. How to Test for Fake Gold or Silver

How to Test for Fake Gold or Silver

This summer, working with, we showed how bullion buyers can test for fake gold or silver. In recent years there have been various concerning cases of bullion counterfeiting, and so investors should be aware of these methods to ensure their gold and silver are the real deal.

12. A New Vision of the Mining Company of the Future

A New Vision of the Mining Company of the Future

We presented a vision of the Mining Company of the Future in this infographic and accompanying video version. Mining companies today face a complexity of problems: spiraling costs, government intervention, deepening pits, lower ore grades, and declining productivity are just some of the issues. These graphics convey a framework developed by KIN Catalyst through years of conferences, consultation, and hard work.

11. Is Vancouver a Legitimate Tech Hub?

Is Vancouver a Legitimate Tech Hub?

If you’re asking yourself if Vancouver is able to directly compare with Silicon Valley, the answer is a resolute “no”. To put things in perspective, Silicon Valley boasts at least 10x more tech employees, 20x more venture capital deals, and an unsurpassed track record of success. In fact, California alone grabbed a hefty 47% of all North American venture capital funding in 2013. However, the Canadian city is trending in the right direction and in this infographic we look at the evidence on both sides.

10. Peak Population

Peak Population

By 2100, our global population is to be between 9.6 and 12.3 billion. In the first part of our Peak Population Series we look at the crunch that a growing global population will put on natural resources.

9. Medical Marijuana in Canada

Medical Marijuana in Canada

On April 1, 2014, Canadian legislation changed significantly around medical marijuana. In our Medical Marijuana in Canada infographic we look at the new regulations, the market for medical cannabis, and its uses and treatments.

8. Everything You Need to Know About the Swiss Gold Referendum

Everything You Need to Know About the Swiss Gold Referendum

In November, Switzerland had a potential game-changing referendum on their central bank’s use of gold. The vote ended up being a firm “no”, but in this Swiss Referendum infographic we looked at the potential implications that a “yes” vote would have brought in Switzerland and the rest of the world.

7. The Definitive History of Bitcoin

The Definitive History of Bitcoin

We put together an ambitious five year history of Bitcoin together all the way from its inception to the end of 2013. See the Definitive History of Bitcoin in all of its glory as every notable event is compiled in one place in beautiful detail.

6. The Many Phases of Silver (Silver Series)

The Silver Series

In the first part of our new Silver Series presented by we covered the many phases of silver: its uses as a monetary, health, and industrial metal.

5. The Narwhal Club: Home to Canada’s $1B Tech Startups

The Narwhal Club

The Narwhal Club is Canada’s answer to Aileen Lee’s idea of a “Unicorn Club” for $1B+ valued startups in the United States. Working with Garibaldi Capital Advisors we compiled and curated a list of all tech startups in Canada worth over $1 Billion, including many companies that are on the verge of success.

4. Space Wars: The Private Sector Strikes Back

Space Wars: The Private Sector Strikes Back

The space industry is rapidly changing, and there are about a dozen private companies that are helping to shape the future of space travel. From space tourism to dreams of harvesting asteroids, we cover the movers and shakers of Space’s Private Sector in this infographic.

3. Inside Tesla’s $5 Billion Gigafactory

Inside Tesla's $5 Billion Gigafactory

Recently, Tesla made the bold decision to build a $5 Billion factory to mass produce batteries with economies of scale. In this infographic on the Tesla Gigafactory, we look at the implications of this decision with regards to natural resources such as graphite, cobalt, and lithium.

2. A Year’s Extraction of Metal Shown Next to Landmarks and Cities

A Year's Extraction of Metal Shown Next to Landmarks and Cities

In this infographic slideshow, we asked ourselves how big a year’s extraction of various metals would be if they were put in a hypothetical cube. Some of the answers will surprise you.

1. The Gold Series

The Gold Series

In our Gold Series, we covered everything on the yellow metal including its rich history, supply and geology, demand and uses, investment upside, and predictions for the future. Spanning five infographic parts, The Gold Series is a world class collection of informational and educational content on the fundamentals of gold investing. This series was viewed more than any other infographic this year.




The 44 Closest Stars and How They Compare to our Sun

This graphic visualizes the 44 closest stars, revealing key facts such as distance from Earth, brightness, and whether potential planets are in orbit.



44 closest stars

44 Closest Stars and How They Compare to our Sun

Humans have been fascinated by the stars in the night sky since the dawn of time.

We’ve been decoding the mysteries of celestial bodies for many centuries, but it is only in the last 200 years or so that we’ve been able to glean more detailed information on the lights that dot the night sky. Friedrich Bessel’s method of stellar parallax was a breakthrough in accurately measuring the positions of stars, and opened new doors in the effort to map our universe. Today, high-powered telescopes offer even more granular data on our cosmic neighborhood.

The infographic above, from Alan’s Factory Outlet, categorizes the 44 closest stars to Earth, examining the size, luminosity, constellations, systems, and potential planets of each star.

Our Nearest Stellar Neighbors

Our closest neighboring stars are all part of the same solar system: Alpha Centauri. This triple star system – consisting of Proxima Centauri, Alpha Centauri A, and Alpha Centauri B – attracts a lot of interest because it hosts planets, including one that may be similar to Earth.

The planet, Proxima Centauri b, is a lot closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun. However, because Proxima Centauri is a smaller and cooler red dwarf type star, the planet’s orbit is within the habitable zone. It’s thought that Proxima Centauri b receives approximately the same amount of solar energy as Earth does from our Sun.

Here’s a full list of the 44 of the closest stars to Earth:

Star NameDistance (light years)MoE
Proxima Centauri4.37±0.0068
α Centauri A4.37±0.0068
α Centauri B4.37±0.0068
Barnard's Star5.96±0.0032
Wolf 3597.86±0.031
Lalande 211858.31±0.014
Sirius A8.66±0.010
Sirius B8.66±0.010
Luyten 726-8 A8.79±0.012
Luyten 726-8 B8.79±0.012
Ross 1549.70±0.0019
Ross 24810.29±0.0041
Epsilon Eridani10.45±0.016
Lacaille 935210.72±0.0016
Ross 12811.01±0.0026
EZ Aquarii A11.11±0.034
61 Cygni A11.40±0.0012
61 Cygni B11.40±0.0012
Procyon A11.40±0.032
Procyon B11.40±0.032
Struve 2398 A11.49±0.0012
Struve 2398 B11.49±0.0012
Groombridge 34 A11.62±0.0008
Groombridge 34 B11.62±0.0008
DX Cancri11.68±0.0056
Tau Ceti11.75±0.022
Epsilon Indi11.87±0.011
Gliese 106111.98±0.0029
YZ Ceti12.11±0.0035
Luyten's Star12.20±0.036
Teegarden's Star12.50±0.013
SCR 1845-635713.05±0.008
Kapteyn's Star12.83±0.0013
Lacaille 876012.95±0.0029
Kruger 60 A13.07±0.0052
Kruger 60 B13.07±0.0052
Wolf 106114.05±0.0038
Wolf 424 A14.05±0.26
Van Maanen's star14.07±0.0023
Gliese 114.17±0.0037
TZ Arietis14.58±0.0070
Gliese 67414.84±0.0033
Gliese 68714.84±0.0022

Even though we see many of these stars in the night sky, humans aren’t likely to see them in person any time soon. To put these vast distances into perspective, if the Voyager spacecraft were to travel to Proxima Centauri, it would take over 73,000 years to finally arrive.

The Brightest Stars in the Sky

The closest stars aren’t necessarily the ones most visible to us here on Earth. Here are the top 10 stars in terms of visual brightness from Earth:

RankProper nameConstellationVisual magnitude (mV)Distance (light years)
2SiriusCanis Major−1.468.6
4Rigil Kentaurus & TolimanCentaurus−0.27 (0.01 + 1.33)4.4
6VegaLyra0.03 (−0.02–0.07var)25.0
7CapellaAuriga0.08 (0.03–0.16var)43.0
8RigelOrion0.13 (0.05–0.18var)860.0
9ProcyonCanis Minor0.3411.0
10AchernarEridanus0.46 (0.40–0.46var)139.0

Excluding our Sun, the brightest star visible from Earth is Sirius, or the Dog Star. Sirius, which is about 25 times more luminous than the sun, visually punctuates the constellation Canis Major.

Filling in the Gaps

The next step in learning more about our surroundings in the cosmos will be seeing which of the stars listed above have planets orbiting them. So far, the 44 stars in the infographic have over 40 planets scattered among them, though new discoveries are made all the time.

With each new mission and discovery, we learn a little bit more about our pocket of the universe.

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Visualizing the True Size of Land Masses from Largest to Smallest

Maps can distort the size and shape of countries. This visualization puts the true size of land masses together from biggest to smallest.



The True Size of Land Masses from Largest to Smallest

Is Greenland the size of the entire African continent?


But looking at a map based on the Mercator projection, you would think so.

Today’s infographic comes from the design studio Art.Lebedev and shows the true size of the world’s land masses in order from largest to smallest using data from NASA and Google.

Check out the actual shape and size of each land mass without any distortions.

Distorting Reality: Mercator Misconceptions

Maps can deceive your eyes but they are still powerful tools for specific purposes. In 1569, the legendary cartographer, Gerardus Mercator, created a new map based on a cylindrical projection of sections of the Earth. These types of maps were suited for nautical navigation since every line on the sphere is a constant course, or loxodrome.

Despite the map’s nautical utility, the Mercator projection has an unwanted downside. The map type increases the sizes of land masses close to the poles (such as in North America, Europe, or North Asia) as a side effect. As a result, Canada and Russia appear to take up approximately 25% of the Earth’s surface, when in reality these nations only occupy 5%.

“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many.” – Phaedrus

This collection of images above represents the world’s land masses in their correct proportions. Measurements are based on Google Maps 2016 and NASA Earth Observatory maps, with calculations based on the WGS84 reference ellipsoid, or more simply, a specific model of the Earth’s shape in two dimensions.

We take for granted Google Maps and satellite imaging. Making these accurate representations is no small task – the designers went through six steps and many different iterations of the graphic.

Countries are arranged by descending size and shown without external or dependent territories. For example, the total area for the contiguous United States shown does not include Hawaii, Alaska, or overseas territories.

Top 10 Largest Land Masses

Although Mercator maps distort the size of land masses in the Northern Hemisphere, many of these countries still cover massive territories.

JurisdictionArea (km²)
United States (contiguous)7,654,643

The top 10 land masses by size account for 55% of the Earth’s total land. The remainder is split by the world’s 195 or so other countries.

Top 10 Smallest Land Masses

Here are the 10 tiniest jurisdictions highlighted on the map:

JurisdictionArea (km²)
Kingman Reef0.002
Vatican City0.5
Kure Atoll0.9
Tromelin Island1
Johnston Atoll1
Baker Island1
Howland Island2
Palmyra Atoll3

While the Earth’s land surface has been claimed by many authorities, the actual impact of human activity is less than one would think.

Human Impact: Humbled by Nature

Political borders have claimed virtually every piece of land available. Despite this, only 20% of land on the planet has been visibly impacted by human activity, and only 15% of Earth’s land surface is formally under protection.

The remaining 80% of the land hosts natural ecosystems that help to purify air and water, recycle nutrients, enhance soil fertility, pollinate plants, and break down waste products. The value of maintaining these services to the human economy is worth trillions of U.S. dollars each year.

While some nations are not as big as they look on the map, every piece of land counts.

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