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This mesmerizing 3D map visualizes millions of scientific studies

This mesmerizing 3D map visualizes millions of scientific studies
[Image: courtesy Mauro Martino]

Nature, the multidisciplinary scientific journal founded in London in 1869, celebrates its 150th anniversary this week. Known for its innovative approach to publishing original research across all sorts of scientific disciplines (and works of science fiction as part of its Futures series), Nature has a readership of over 400,000 people. In celebration of the publication’s sesquicentennial, Mauro Martino—scientist, artist, and professor of practice at Northeastern University—designed a unique cover that draws upon his work with data visualization to render the journal’s work as an interconnected network.

The purpose of this project, which was created in collaboration with the Barabasi Lab and Nature‘s editors, is multifold; beyond the latest issue’s cover, Martino’s colorful, abstract visual also exists as an interactive tool and video. In this vibrantly designed data viz, each sphere represents a paper published in Nature over the last 150 years. Any two papers (read: spheres) are linked together if another cites both of them, showing a connection in research. The larger the size of the sphere, the more co-citations it has.

Nature’s editors published a thorough explanation behind the cover and accompanying video, saying: “We track here how papers cite and are cited across disciplines, using data on tens of millions of scientific articles indexed in Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science (WoS), a bibliometric database that encompasses many thousands of research journals starting from 1900. We pay particular attention to articles that appeared in Nature. In our view, this snapshot, for all its idiosyncrasies, reveals how scientific work is ever more becoming a mixture of disciplines.”

To view Martino’s latest project for the storied science publication, check out the video above.

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