Analyzing 35 million citations from 7,000 journals, researchers at the University of Washington and the Santa Fe Institute have traced and plotted changes and fluctuations in the prevalence of various fields of scientific study over the past decade.
Among the most notable observations are the branching of broad study areas into more specialized, standalone disciplines, and the emergence of newly defined fields, such as neuroscience (which was, indeed, an interdisciplinary concentration when I majored in it — or something like it — as an undergraduate in the nascent millennium):
The alluvial diagram illustrates, for example, how over the years 2001–2005, urology gradually splits off from oncology and how the field of infectious diseases becomes a unique discipline, instead of a subset of medicine, in 2003. But these changes are just two of many over this period. In the same diagram, we also highlight the biggest structural change in scientific citation patterns over the past decade: the transformation of neuroscience from interdisciplinary specialty to a mature and stand-alone discipline, comparable to physics or chemistry, economics or law, molecular biology or medicine.
Also worth remarking: the conspicuous lack of progress in the field of making graphs that don’t give you a migraine.
(Published in PLoS ONE.)
How do you know that you rinse and spin among the intellectual elite? When this is on the magazine rack at your neighborhood laundromat:
As an added bonus there was also a recent issue of PopSci, so I could distract myself from the sad triviality of my days by perusing my own bylines. So easily salved, the tender ego of a writer.
If you laugh at any of these jokes, performed by “science comedian” Brian Malow, you are officially a nerd. Welcome.
Bonus: if you watch/enjoy the additional video on his website, like I did, you’re super geeky.
About two-thirds of the way through it he wonders, “Why is it that if you like science you’re labeled a geek or a brain? Has that ever struck anyone as unfair? Is it any less geeky to have vast knowledge of sports trivia and statistics?” Yes. Much less.
[via Boing Boing]
In an effort to thwart the spread of H1 N1, the Swine Flu, on campus, the administration at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY has finally taken a measure it should have taken a long time ago: It’s banned beer pong. Said the Times Union yesterday:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is asking students to curb the sharing of cups after a group of students contracted the swine flu during a weekend of drinking games, according to Dr. Leslie Lawrence, medical director of the school’s health center.
“While it might seem fun over the weekend, it will not be enjoyable when you and your friends are sick and missing class or midterm examinations,” he wrote in a message distributed to RPI students and staff.
Thus far, RPI has seen one of the region’s highest number of swine flu cases among its student population, with 21 cases of influenza, including about 14 that are active. Seven of those students are in campus isolation rooms and seven have returned home with their families. Several staff and faculty have also been experienced flu-like symptoms and Lawrence said the cases are steadily growing.
The latest cases were tied to social events and a school football game, after which students were playing drinking games. Lawrence cautioned students that alcohol does not kill the flu virus and said it was particularly important during social events to wash hands and avoid close contact, concepts that may seem foreign at a college keg party.
Better question this morning might be: what’s in a Hippo?
Aphrodite, as it turns out.
I know it’s silly, but I just couldn’t help but laugh at this headline from one of my favorite nerd-pubs, Eureakalert science newswire:
Figurines of Aphrodite from the era of the Roman Empire discovered in Hippos
I don’t even really care where Hippos is, or why this is news. I just want to picture the grinning ‘potamuses/’potami and wonder how the intrepid discoverers got in there in the first place.
Well if we can’t trust emoticons to express how we feel, who can we trust?
A study published in Current Biology reveals that Easterners and Westerners use different facial cues to recognize emotion. While we scan all features, Asians tend to focus on the eyes, which can lead to cultural confusion, particularly when interpreting emotions like fear, surprise, disgust and anger. (NB if you ever see me, best to assume I’m displaying all four.)
Interestingly, this accounts for why Asians often opt for different emoticons than we do. Here, the mouth tends to do the heavy lifting, whereas in the East there are myriad variations in the eyes. To wit:
Western Happy : )
Eastern Happy ^_^
Western Sad : (
Eastern Sad ;_; (tears! so clever!)
Western Surprised :0
Eastern Surprised O_o
You get the picture. Now this is the part where I make an unseemly joke about their eyes never actually being open wide. What’s the agreed-upon emoticon for Don’t Hit Me?