By woodjr on Mar 08, 2007
W. Bradford Paley has created some fascinating and beautiful "Map of Science" visualizations. They show how scientific fields (or "paradigms") relate to one another, based on how often academic papers in each area reference one another. There is even an offer to provide a nice poster of their work for just the cost of shipping and handling.
The latter provides the best version of the base image, in my opinion. It includes category labels (such as "Quantum Physics" and "Biochemistry"), which make it easier to see high-level trends. For example, it appears that their algorithm places Computer Science in closer relation to Brain Research than to Math--something which I find interesting (assuming I'm reading the chart correctly).
But I find a second picture even more interesting. "The Strengths of Nations" visualization uses the same technique, but creates a separate image representing the scientific work of different countries. By comparing different countries' images, we can see where countries over-weight or under-weight work in different scientific fields. One example, as Paley explains, is:
Even at this gross reduction, you can see image variations relating to how the US treats science (the large map: heavy in the Medical Sciences at the lower left) and, say, China (top of the rightmost column: heavy in Physics, the nodes at the upper right).
Interesting, isn't it?
By the way, when looking at the high-res versions of these images, be sure your browser isn't scaling them down (or you won't see much). To avoid scaling, you may need to click on the image a second time once it comes up in your browser. And to give credit where it's due... I found these via a post on infosthetics.com.