The science universe

06 January 2012 - Datamining

klik hier voor de afbeelding op ware grootteAnd a happy 2012 to you too. To start the new year have a look at the image on the left (click it for a blowup). With thanks to Flowingdata for the chem alert, this image (2009) is brought to you by Bollen et al. (DOI) from the Digital Library Research division (fascinating) of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (didn't they used to do atomic bombs?). It is a map of science with each dot representing a particular scientific branch grouped into clusters and with all the connecting lines. On the right you can see all the hard-core science departments (physics, chemistry) while on the left you can see all the womanly things like sociology and nursing.
To compile the image, over 1 billion logfile entries were collected from science portals such as Web of Science and Scopus. These data reveal what people read rather then what people cite. people that read the JORG also tend to read tetrahedron but to a lesser extent the Angewandte or even Foreign Policy. The scientific principle is a Markov chain.
The chemistry block is flanked by the physics block and the biochemistry block. For chemistry there are three ways get across the big scientific void into the left side: in one direction though manufacturing and product research venturing into economics and in another direction through plant biology and environmental science. One direct route seems to lead directly from analytical chemistry to religion (?) and another one from organic chemistry into international studies (?).
The study was not limited to scientific journals: newspapers like the New York Times were also included. This raises an interesting question: considering the political orientation that newspapers have, are chemists more conservative than geologists or are analytical chemists more left-wing than organic chemists? What political orientation do climate scientists have? The answer is all in the data, ready to be mined.