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How Scientific Paradigms Relate 163

Here is a giant chart mapping relationships among scientific paradigms, as published in the journal Nature. This map was constructed by sorting roughly 800,000 published papers into 776 different scientific paradigms (shown as pale circular nodes) based on how often the papers were cited together by authors of other papers. Information Esthetics, an organization founded by map co-creator W. Bradford Paley, is giving away 25" x 24" prints of the Map of Science (you pay postage and handling via PayPal). There are also links to a 3000+ pixel wide jpg of the chart. It would be all one long spectrum except for Computer Science, which makes the connection (via AI) between the hard sciences and the soft sciences.
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How Scientific Paradigms Relate

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  • Cool (Score:5, Funny)

    by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @09:34PM (#18423917) Homepage
    Geek porn
    • by ROMRIX ( 912502 )

      Geek porn
      I found only parts of the chart that interesting, which made it really bizarre during circular references and cross linking, causing rapid fire repetitive redundant priapismic episodes.
  • Uh oh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Null Nihils ( 965047 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @09:38PM (#18423963) Journal

    There are also links to a 3000+ pixel wide jpg of the chart.
    Soon to be links to a 3000+ degree lump of molten webserver. :)
    • by Alien54 ( 180860 )
      3000+ degree of molten webserver ?

      Not this late at night. They still have a chance to crank up the refrigeration for the server room. Moscow is just waking up, and the US won't come online for another 8- 10 hours. So they have something of a prayer.

      The beeper of the webmaster should be going off in Australia just about now, and we can all imagine the panicked cursing as he realizes that he won't be able to make it to the beach because he's going to be busy arranging co-location services for the rest of t
    • There are also links to a 3000+ pixel wide jpg of the chart.
      Soon to be links to a 3000+ degree lump of molten webserver.

      Forget the server. I need a mouse with a sideways scroll wheel, as well as the up and down one.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by RealGrouchy ( 943109 )

      There are also links to a 3000+ pixel wide jpg of the chart.

      These guys have it all backwards--Slashdotters are supposed to crash their computers, not the other way around!

      - RG>
  • So sad... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Slipgrid ( 938571 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @09:42PM (#18423993) Homepage Journal
    That show a problem with the way people think about science. Read E. O. Wilson's Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge [amazon.com] on why we should apply the scientific method to all field, even humanities, and why we should try to speak about all fields with a common language.

    For instance, an example of applying science to humanities, would be writing about history in a scientific way. May not seem important if you view the people on Earth in as the only society, but if you were trying to compare the history of peoples on many different planets, then it would be very important.

    People with a computer science background should know the importance of having a common language to speak, or speaking in the simplest terms. If someone throws acronyms at you, they likely don't know what they are talking about. All field, psychology, history, and cs are related. They should use common terms, or so Wilson would have you believe.

    A truly liberal education would show you that all fields relate, and depend on one another.
    • by maxume ( 22995 )
      Historians already work in scientific ways. Wilson's point is more that if they work long enough, and gather enough data, that they will construct reasonable 'theories of history' that describe how different histories are related.

      He spends much of the book illustrating how new knowledge has pretty much only ever broken down walls between fields, not built them, in support of the notion that it is possible to create scientific theories in the 'softer' sciences. Great read.
      • I haven't read the book since 1999, and I haven't taken many higher level history classes, so I'm not sure how they teach it today. Though I would agree that new knowledge has broken the walls between field, by showing that the field relate, many people tend to build walls with field specific grammar.

        I saw Wilson lecture on his new book, The Creation. Very interesting, but I got the feeling that he was repacking the same info for the political climate of today (ie. the culture wars). Brilliant guy tho
      • Indeed a great read.

        One of the major, I mean MAJOR themes of that book was to show the importance of reductionism. To explain history it would need to be reduced to the individual psychologies of individuals and the social psychologies of the societies they belonged to.
    • FTA:

      This map was constructed by sorting roughly 800,000 published papers into 776 different scientific paradigms (shown as pale circular nodes) based on how often the papers were cited together by authors of other papers. Links (curved black lines) were made between the paradigms that shared papers, then treated as rubber bands, holding similar paradigms nearer one another when a physical simulation forced every paradigm to repel every other; thus the layout derives directly from the data.

      What Wilson desc

      • Perhaps he says they should all be published under the same paradigm, and not in clear groups as shown by the graph. If there's a concilience of the language that we use, this could happen.
    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      It's not clear to me why there can be much less should be a common vocabulary for all of scientific knowledge. Anyone knowledgeable knows how to speak the lingo. And I don't see the point of attempting to unify vocabulary when some words have potentially dozens of meanings depending on the context.
    • by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      "why we should apply the scientific method to all field, even humanities, and why we should try to speak about all fields with a common language."

      I agree with you on that point. We should apply the scientific method to all fields. It sounds like you are saying that Wilson is saying that if we apply the scientific method to more areas of thought, that knowledge would be more useful, and it would make our daily lives easier. I agree with that. However, that only covers one motivation to do science, or any o
      • My gut feeling is history is often written by the winners, and it's not very accurate. Science is dispassionate, or should be, but most historians seem passionate, and have a stake in the outcome. Perhaps Wilson just saying that we apply the scientific method in a dispassionate way to our history. There are tons of questions that could be answered that way. For instance, why did the buildings collapse in NY, why did certain diseases hurt certain populations and not others, why did humans migrate in cert
    • by 2Bits ( 167227 )
      What you are saying seems like a laudable goal, but in order to achieve that goal, you are assuming that everyone (at least those involved in scientific research) needs to be expert in a lot of fields. At the rate we are generating "knowledge" right now, it is already very hard for a single person to know a single field in depth, let alone having the breadth to cover more than one field.

      Let's take Physics or Math. Any physicist or mathematician can claim to know every single branch of Physics or Math in dep
      • Perhaps it has something to do with simplifying the language. The math I understand, I understand because I can read the equations. I know algebra, because I know that it's about doing whatever you must to find the value of x, and not really about knowing to do the same operations to both sides of an equation. It's not hard to understand calc if you know that you are looking for the rate of change, but somehow mathematicians find a way to make that incredibly hard. They should try to make it easier. Ag
    • by renoX ( 11677 )
      >we should apply the scientific method to all field, even humanities

      Given that for many 'humanities' field, there is no way to do experiment and that fact perceptions is highly subjective, I fail to see how this is possible.

      >would be writing about history in a scientific way

      That's nearly impossible, unless you relate 'raw facts' without interpretation, I'm not sure that it is very interesting.

    • Read E. O. Wilson's Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge [amazon.com] on why we should apply the scientific method to all field, even humanities, and why we should try to speak about all fields with a common language.

      What's the definition of "the scientific method"?

      More generally, what's the definition of "science"?

  • it'll probably show up in 6 months time and I'll be like "what the fuck is this?"

    Look good on my wall though.
    • by maxume ( 22995 )
    • Were you comfortable with the purchase options / apparent security of the site? I was tempted, but dissuaded by having no information what kind of a transaction I would be required to complete and what their security measures are.
      • Tired. Realizing the inanity of my previous post. Of course you were comfortable. I guess what I'm asking is: What are the options?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Argh! In the original summary -- actual useful information. PayPal. Ok.

          Not only am I tired, I am blind. A good, good sign to go home before I erase Alaska here, or something.
      • I ALMOST bought one. I tried to get four of them shipped to me, but after I entered all my information and submitted the form, it showed me someone else's shipping information. Makes me wonder if the site is designed to handle more than one order at a time. It is a pretty neat looking poster nonetheless.
        • Re:I bought one.. (Score:4, Informative)

          by wbpaley2 ( 1078263 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @01:19AM (#18425441)
          I apologise profoundly for this. (I was one of the co-creators of the poster, and the Information Esthetics organization distributing the print is my responsibility.)

          We are using a standard Drupal shopping module and I have received two reports of this. I am sure others have seen the problem and not reported it.

          We have a Drupal guru looking at that code, and hundreds of orders have cleard fine, but for now I suggest people do exactly what gammaxy did: if someone else's information show up, wait until tomorrow.

          I will remain personally responsible for any mis-charged or undelivered prints. You may find me by Google-ing "Brad Paley": e-mail addresses are available on my various Web sites.

          Thank you for the interest! Sorry about the glitch.

          Kind Regards, Brad
        • Well, that's PHP for you.
  • by negative3 ( 836451 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @09:42PM (#18424001)

    Their "Computer Science" grouping is odd - one of the "paradigms" is "multiple antenna, selective fading, smart antenna,..." which are not computer science topics, they're EE/wireless communications topics.
    Some aspects of Computer Science and EE are definitely closely related, but this is kind of weird. Engineering seems under-represented - if there were a lot of engineering disciplines included (EE, Computer, mechanical, aerospace, etc.) but not under any sort of "engineering" heading, why is "applied physics" so small?
    Cool chart nonetheless. This was a huge amount of info to sort through and graphically represent.
    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @09:57PM (#18424101) Homepage Journal
      Here's a hint: it's a science chart.

      You might as well be complaining that they didn't include snowboarding.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by maxume ( 22995 )
        I have a theory that some of the best engineers are scientists who think "I could know 'this' if only I could do 'that'", and some of the best scientists are engineers who think "I could do 'that' if only I knew 'this'".
      • A very good point. Engineering is, in a very real sense, not a field of its own. It is a component of scientific disciplines. Chemical engineering, software engineering, structural engineering, and basically anything where you need to actually USE your science to produce something in the real world. If anything, many of the problems that are experienced in the world are directly the result of NOT applying engineering methodologies to a domain where they are needed (or not even applying scientific princi
    • by Alien54 ( 180860 )
      If you look at the link to mapofscience.com [mapofscience.com], the menu widgets at the right let you highlight individual areas, including Engineering. Similar functionality is seem in the other topic areas
    • by femto ( 459605 )

      Historically they are Information Theory [wikipedia.org] topics. Only recently, when we figured out how to build them, did they become engineering topics.

      Information theorists are typically drawn from the ranks of mathematics, engineering and computer science so the positioning between computer science and mathematics is expected. The close link to control theory is also expected.

      As others have pointed out the chart deals with academic papers, so it is telling you how the theory of each area is related. Building MIM

    • by pjt33 ( 739471 )
      If you think that's odd, take a look at "Math". "EEG" and "epileptic" appear to occur more often in mathematical papers about nonlinear analysis than in medical papers.
  • I guess it's only natural that they would have podcasts [seedmagazine.com]
  • Tufte (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @09:43PM (#18424013) Homepage Journal

    That poster looks like Edward Tufte got sick after trying to make sense of all that information.

    Joke aside, it's gorgeous in the pure organic feel of it, but not particularly informative other than illustrative.

    • and it could probably be colorized that way....

      I can just imagine a UFO abductee seeing a similar chart of knowledge or biology or something on the wall of the starship, and think it was a map of the home nebula/star cluster.

      Could be useful as some sort of directory if the interface were appropriately interactive.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @09:48PM (#18424049) Journal
    That says "you are here"? Is it supported by any of the GPS devices being sold?
  • By the way, what *is* paradigm anyway?
    • by flynt ( 248848 )
      If you don't have time to Read Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, make time!
    • A paradigm... A paradigm makes, um, twenty cents, no?
    • A paradigm is a model or pattern or maybe a framework. It is the general way of looking at or approaching things.

      We can see examples of different paradigms in software - procedural programming, functional programming, object oriented can all be considered paradigms. OO is a general way of doing things and breaks all the rules of functional programming - but it isn't wrong it is just a way of doing things. Within that paradigm we can come up with rules about what is good or allowed or bad, and it only ap

  • At the last GECCO conference [sigevo.org] I saw a paper presented on the use of a genetic algorithm to speed up the simulation of certain chemical reactions:

    linky [uiuc.edu]
    Google cache [209.85.165.104] because the link is to a power point...

    Basically, a multiobjective GA was used to find parameter sets for chemical simulation equations that increased the speed of those simulations by a factor of 10x-103x. (And were more accurate, to boot.) That enables the reaction models to be more complex and, as the presentation stated, "lead potentially to
  • by jd ( 1658 )
    ...I overlay the map of the Internet on top of the map of science, will I end up with a flow-chart of Windows?
    • Well you will end up with a complete mess, so it's very likely.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )
      ...I overlay the map of the Internet on top of the map of science, will I end up with a flow-chart of Windows?

      Well, I've simplified it to make Windows do what it does faster:

      GOTO BSOD

                 
  • by kurisuto ( 165784 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @10:15PM (#18424243) Homepage
    I think that this is a misuse of the word "paradigm."

    To closely quote Wikipedia, a paradigm is the set of practices that define a scientific discipline during a particular period of time. A paradigm is defined by science historian Thomas Kuhn to comprise the following:

    • what is to be observed and scrutinized,
    • the kind of questions that are supposed to be asked and probed for answers in relation to this subject,
    • how these questions are to be structured,
    • how the results of scientific investigations should be interpreted.


    It looks to me as if this chart does not show connectedness among "paradigms". It simply shows connectedness among various areas of study (as measured in terms of clusterings of bibliography citations).

    A paradigm change is something that happens within a single area of study, such as geology or linguistics. To look at connectedness among "paradigms", you'd have to look at the history of single fields, not the current interconnectedness among different fields.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      I think that this is a misuse of the word "paradigm."

      True - it does not resemble ten cents in any way whatsoever.

    • A physicist, a chemist and a biologist walk into a bar and order a jug of beer. The physicist notes, "Thats a fine angle of pour", the chemist comments, "And such a fine consistency of head", while the biologist says, "So, what time do you knock off?"
    • by Jeff250 ( 986303 )
      Paradigms do change (a la "paradigm shift"), but presumably this map isn't intended to illustrate the history of scientific paradigms, just the interplay of modern ones. Kuhn was more than willing to acknowledge that paradigms existed at different levels. For example, the global community of scientists share a paradigm. Further down the chain, we can say that scientists of different scientific topics, such as physicists and chemists, also have their own paradigms. More so, organic chemists have their ow
    • by orin ( 113079 )
      If you'd read the Postscript to the 2nd edition of SSR you'd know that Kuhn owned up to 27 separate uses of the word paradigm in the original text. Kuhn stopped using Paradigm as a term all together by the 80's. But hey, if you think Wikipedia is a better resource than the original text itself ...
    • They use the word "paradigm" perfectly well. If you use the actual definition of the word, which is essentially synonymous with exemplar, it works fine.

      Kuhn's definition isn't the primary definition, and Wikipedia is far from authoritative. There are authoritative sources, including a selection of dictionaries at onelook.com. This isn't a Kuhninan discussion. They don't mention him, and they aren't talking about change over time. Let's just assume they mean to use the primary definition of the word, say as
  • I just tried to order a few of these.

    It took 3 tries to make the quantity and price function correctly.

    Then two more tries later, I had different people's names and addresses instead of my own.

    Then, I finally got to PayPal with my information, did the PayPal bit successfully, and then it told me "access denied" on returning to the merchant.

    *confused*
    • I just tried to order a few of these.

      It took 3 tries to make the quantity and price function correctly.

      Then two more tries later, I had different people's names and addresses instead of my own.

      Then, I finally got to PayPal with my information, did the PayPal bit successfully, and then it told me "access denied" on returning to the merchant.

      *confused*

      i tried to read your post for relevance to the original article.

      *confused*

  • Where's Creationism? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by grub ( 11606 )

    Where on that map do I find papers published by the Creationism/Intelligent Design kooks? Oh right, it's not science.

  • Torrent (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ankur Dave ( 929048 )
    The server is just asking to be Slashdotted, with a 5.3MB file, so here's a torrent [homelinux.com].
  • I've been investigating a similar mapping technique to the one these people used, nearly identical in fact, as applied to social networks. I've modelled people as antigravitationally interacting points, with friendships represented as springs.

    You can see an early render [deviantart.com] (deviantart.org), or one using the same data but with a slightly more sophisticated physics simulation [deviantart.com] (deviantart.org).

  • This story is a little old ; but relevant none the less.

    Slashdot's write up neglects to link to the social sciences network chart with an interactive display featuring temporary user-based input nodes and a simple web-gui connection and filtering algorithm [douginadress.com]. This network model lets you view the original chart, referenced in the article, and then get a feel for the mapping algorithm by submitting your own input on social networks.

    It also has an explanation of the hierarchal design employed by wikipedia as ex
  • I was about to buy 3 of these, but when I actually looked closely at the graph I realised how biased it is toward the biomedical/health sciences. Math is a puny cluster of small dots, there's no area labeled Engineering and Chemistry looks like it has more lines than all the hard sciences put together.

    Their site actually lets you highlight the portions that they consider Engineering, and the result is pretty weird: you get computer science, math, a lot of astrophysics, fluid mechanics, materials, applied ph
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by morner ( 1078219 )
      It's just generated directly from what's been published. It's not biased; this is just what people are working on.
      • by Flavio ( 12072 )
        It's just generated directly from what's been published. It's not biased; this is just what people are working on.

        Yes, but published where? They didn't say.

        Their bad categorization of Engineering reinforces my belief that there really is a bias.
        • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @11:48PM (#18424879) Journal
          "Their bad categorization of Engineering reinforces my belief that there really is a bias."

          Engineering is not science, so yes it is biased against engineering in the same way as it is biased against architecture, sport, art, politics, and everything else that it is not trying to map.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Goldsmith ( 561202 )
          If I remember the original Nature article correctly, it's based primarily on what journal research is published in. Thus if a journal claims to be focused on engineering, then articles published in that journal are in the subject of engineering. Links were made by citations between journal articles. They do say what journals they look at. They're selected by Thomson Scientific, who runs Web of Science, and I know they include IEEE journals.

          I always laugh at people who try to re-define other people's pro
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      One thing to note is that they generated this based on journal papers. As Computer Science is mostly a conference-driven field, there are relatively few papers published in CS journals.

      In math, it's extremely difficult to publish journal papers, and a single mathematician could not output the volume of papers that a biologist could. That could be reflected the size disparity.

      And the rest is probably due to the bias of the people that came up with the "paradigms" and how they link together (I'd wager they
    • Rather ironic, the whole thing is an application of a branch of mathematics : graph theory, and yet seems to suggest that mathematics makes very little contribution to the whole thing. It really isn't believable that maths could have so few connections, this just proves that people don't see it when it is everywhere.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by timeOday ( 582209 )

      I was about to buy 3 of these, but when I actually looked closely at the graph I realised how biased it is toward the biomedical/health sciences. Math is a puny cluster of small dots, there's no area labeled Engineering and Chemistry looks like it has more lines than all the hard sciences put together.

      What are your expectations based on? The chart is based on scientific publications, and IME it is representative. Federal research budget [usatoday.com] in 2004:

      Life Sciences: 54%
      Engineering: 17%
      Physical Sciences: 10%

  • Kevin Bacon (Score:4, Funny)

    by Feileung ( 1078225 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @10:48PM (#18424471)
    What's really weird is that I can't seem to find Kevin Bacon anywhere on that map.
  • I've been trying to improve the subject/category classification of my book reviews [dannyreviews.com], but that currently has 150 categories (including fiction genres) and expanding it to 700 isn't practical.

    So I'd love to see a similar chart with 100 categories - then one could conceivably try to read a book about each of them!

    Danny.

  • If you squint just right, ignore the dots and just look at the lines of text... ... it kinda looks like a face... ... it kinda looks like THE FACE OF GOD!!!! ... or maybe Hemmingway. Or Einstein. I'm not really sure.
  • Why is science shaped like a donut made out of bubbles and string?
  • I have the linked graphic set as my wallpaper. Though, at 1280x1024 resolution, it looks more like the last few minutes of the 203rd Annual Interdimensional Jellyfish Convention.
  • Warning: their checkout is buggy. Upon confirmation, it gave me the info of someone in India... Don't order until they iron out the bugs !
  • > It would be all one long spectrum except for Computer Science, which makes
    > the connection (via AI) between the hard sciences and the soft sciences.

    Neuroscience makes a connection between the hard science and soft sciences without even considering AI's existence. From the genetics of biochemical brain function through species specific behaviors to rational and irrational human cognition and behavior to social psychology. In fact, neuroscience differs from cognitive science specifically because it d
    • Neuroscience makes a connection between the hard science and soft sciences
      It wishes! The gulf between neuroscience and the soft sciences is enormous. No technology to sense neuronal activations with enough spatial or temporal resolution to relate them to intelligence is even on the horizon. I doubt neuroscience will explain or create intelligence any faster than birdwatching taught us how to make airplanes, or the Kreb cycle taught us how to make engines.
  • ... the connection (via AI) between the hard sciences and the soft sciences.

    Did someone go and invent a working artificial intelligence and not tell anyone? This link might make sense when we actually have AI.
  • "It would be all one long spectrum except for Computer Science, which makes the connection (via AI) between the hard sciences and the soft sciences."

    Hmmm...in order for it not to be one long spectrum (and the circle it is instead), doesn't it need to have two connections between the hard sciences and the soft sciences? The first link just stops it from being 2 disjoint groups...
  • Rather useful... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PeterPiper ( 167721 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @12:48PM (#18430479) Homepage
    I am thinking that this chart could be extremely useful for someone planning the layout for a university campus.

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