Nerd's-eye view

Here are the best nerdy infographics of the year.

The most epic was inventor Saul Griffith’s opus-in-the-form-of-a-website, Energy Literacy, which went from being an energy blog to a single, enormous infographic that aims to show precisely where energy comes from and where it goes. The site is overwhelming — you’d need a computer screen the size of a billboard to view some data sets easily — but it’s still fun.

Energy Literacy

The most useful infographic I’ve found this year comes from Cameron Booth, who plots Amtrak lines as though they are routes on one enormous subway. This is not only attractive, it’s much more useful for trip planning than anything I’ve ever seen from Amtrak. While the project itself is not new, Booth has freshly updated it for 2016.

Cameron Booth

This series of maps by the Washington Post shows the nerves and tangles of American infrastructure — everything from electrical grids to railroad lines. The country’s oil and gas pipelines are laid out below, prettier in map form than on the ground.

Washington Post

The most optimistic infographics came from National Geographic’s Blueprint for a Carbon-Free America and a Carbon-Free World, which lay out state-by-state and country-by-country plans for going completely renewable.

Blueprint for a Carbon-Free World

Now that unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and gas, maybe those plans are closer than we think.