Foundations of Physics

, Volume 46, Issue 12, pp 1713–1721 | Cite as

Ideograms for Physics and Chemistry

  • Pablo García RisueñoEmail author
  • Apostolos Syropoulos
  • Natàlia Vergés


Ideograms (symbols that represent a word or idea) have great communicative value. They refer to concepts in a simple manner, easing the understanding of related ideas. Moreover, ideograms can simplify the often cumbersome notation used in the fields of Physics and physical Chemistry. Nonetheless only a few ideograms—like \(\hbar \) and Å—have been defined to date. In this work we propose that the scientific community follows the example of Mathematics—as well as that of oriental languages—and bestows a more important role upon ideograms. To support this thesis we propose ideograms for essential concepts in Physics and Chemistry. They are designed to be intuitive, and their goal is to make equations easier to read and understand. Our symbols are included in a publicly available Open image in new window package (svrsymbols).


Communication of science Ideograms Understanding of Physics Psychology of science Clear notation Elementary particles Error Assumption 



We are very grateful to Dr. Carl Christian K. Mikkelsen (University of Umeå, Sweden) for his help and advice and to Prof. Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano (University of Zaragoza) for her revision of the manuscript.

Author contributions P.G.R. proposed the idea of developing and using further ideograms and made by hand the corresponding designs; both N.V. and A.S. worked as graphical designers; A.S. wrote the Open image in new window package that includes the ghlyphs.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pablo García Risueño
    • 1
    Email author
  • Apostolos Syropoulos
    • 2
  • Natàlia Vergés
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut für Physikalische Chemie, Center for Ultrafast ImagingUniversität HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Greek TeX FriendsXanthiGreece
  3. 3.Ars DidacticaBesalúSpain

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