III.10 Hypothetical Model of the Evolution and Structure of Science

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Daniel Zeller

Daniel Zeller’s drawings depict abstract spaces with beauty and inspiring complexity. This drawing conceptualizes science as layers of interconnected scientific fields through a stimulating and creative visual language. Starting with the very first scientific thought, science grows outwards in all directions. Each year, another layer is added to the meteor-shaped manifestation of knowledge. New fields emerge (blue), and established fields (brown) merge, split, or die. The cutout reveals a layering of fat years that produce many new papers and slim years in which few papers are added. Each research field corresponds to a tube-shaped object. Some have very fast growth patterns due to electronic papers that are interlinked within days. Other fields communicate knowledge via books, and years might pass before the first citation bridge is created. Blue tentacles could symbolize the search for opportunities and resources, or activity bursts due to hype and trends. The injection of money (yellow) has a major impact on how science grows, while voids in our knowledge are potentially dangerous or inhabited by monsters. The trajectories of scientists who consume money, write papers, interlink papers via citation bridges, and fight battles on the front lines of research could be overlaid. Yet, scientists are mortal, leaving behind only the knowledge structures that future generations can build upon.


Zeller, Daniel. 2007. Hypothetical Model of the Evolution and Structure of Science. Courtesy of Daniel Zeller. In “3rd Iteration (2007): The Power of Forecasts,” Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Julie M. Davis. http://scimaps.org.

Acknowledgements: This exhibit is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0534909 and IIS-0715303, the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from the Web of Science by Thomson Reuters and Scopus by Elsevier. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.