Relationships among Scientific Paradigms

A visualization of science that was generated by clustering citation-based papers

Here’s a description by the developers:

As to what the image depicts, it was constructed by sorting roughly 800,000 scientific papers into 776 different scientific paradigms (shown as red and blue circular nodes) based on how often the papers were cited together by authors of other papers. Links (curved lines) were made between the paradigms that shared common members, then treated as rubber bands, holding similar paradigms closer to one another when a physical simulation forced them all apart: thus the layout derives directly from the data. Larger paradigms have more papers. Labels list common words unique to each paradigm.

you can see it at 13,566,672 pixels here


One Hundred Years of National Geographic Maps

National Geographic’s cartographic department turns 100 this year. Over the last century, we’re told, they’ve “produced 438 supplement maps, ten world atlases, dozens of globes, about 3,000 maps for the magazine, and many maps in digital form.“ These include political maps of the world’s borders, geological maps of land and sea, migratory maps of the world’s animals, space maps of planets, solar systems and galaxies, and on it goes.

Last year, during the 50th anniversary publication of National Geographic’s original Atlas of the World, the Society and Google integrated about 500 maps into relevant Google basemaps. Those can be found here.

Mapping, no doubt, is difficult business. It needs to take into account the emergence of new countries, the dissolution of others, geographical changes and updates, and an ever changing lexicon of place names.

For example:

Most changes in toponymy… are due to changes in how we convert, or "romanize,” names from non-Latin alphabets, such as Greek, Georgian, and Amharic, into words written in Latin characters. In China alone, thousands of place names receive different treatment than they did before the Wade-Giles romanization system was replaced by Hanyu Pinyin in the late 1970s. Thus, the Chinese cities formerly spelled Ch'ingtao and Peking now appear as Qingdao and Beijing.

For typography nerds, here’s a bit on the evolution of type throughout National Geographic’s history. Until the 1930s the maps were hand-lettered.

Want more maps? See here.

Images: Map of the Milky Way (top), trash in the world’s oceans (middle left), human migratory patterns (middle right) and a map of the Atlantic Ocean floor. Select to embiggen.

Alcian and alizarin chameleon

Credit: Elizabeth Marchiondo and Andrew Gillis

Photographer Elizabeth Marchiondo doesn’t often have the opportunity to handle organisms as delicate as this chameleon. “I’m used to photographing live aquarium scum through a microscope,” she says. So Marchiondo was delighted when zoologist Andrew Gillis donated the deceased creature to the lab where she was a microscopy intern. Gillis had prepped the chameleon by dipping it in chemicals that rendered its skin and muscles transparent, then stained its bones and joints with dyes. Marchiondo focused her digital camera on different planes of the chameleon’s body and stitched together 32 images to create this single, crisp picture.

The image was a People’s Choice winner in the 2015 Vizzies competition.

NSF and Popular Science last week announced 2015 Vizzies winners. The Vizzies recognize the finest illustrations, photographs, videos, graphics and apps, whether produced by academic researchers, artists or hobbyists.

“I was trying to find ways to compare other people’s structures,” Jane said. “The entire first year or two [at Duke] was just learning how to do those drawings. So it was very gradual. I’m not an artist. I can’t draw other things all that well.”

Since proteins are too small to be photographed directly, representations of them are often based off of earlier representations. One strategy their lab used was to paint the backbone of the wire model with a special paint that glowed under UV light. With the lights switched off, they took photos, and those photos ended up being a key inspiration for Jane’s later ribbon drawings of protein backbones. Focusing just on the backbone, it became a lot easier to show the folds and curls of the protein. But it was still not easy.

“A lot of good illustration is, as you probably are aware, taking things away so that you’re left with the essential picture,” said Dave. “The issue, of course, is that you might cut off something vital and that it might never be recovered.”

“The big deal is to really look at the drawing critically and ask whether it really shows what you mean it to show,” Jane said. “You have to try to forget all of what you know and try pretend that it’s new.”

Diana Crow | Atom by Atom: Building Protein structures

Having trouble visualizing?

I’ll be honest. As soon as someone says “Antheia, think of a bright light between your hands,” I’m out. While visualization works very well for me when I’m grounding, meditating, or shielding,  I find it hinders rather than helps when I get to actual spellcraft and more complicated energy work. While visualization is a skill that is very useful and good to practice, here’s a few solutions.

  1. Do something physical. When you’re putting up your shields, lift your hands with your shield. When you’re cleansing yourself or something, rub it down as though you were washing mud and grime off of yourself/the object. Imagine the heat of your skin is the energy that you’re putting into something. While you might feel a little silly at first, I’ve found that doing something along with your energy work can be really helpful in putting you into the right mindset. In terms of spell craft, sometimes making something that you can hold physically will help, as well.
  2. Command it. You will do as you please. Saying it out loud can also be helpful if you’re having trouble visualizing. “I’m raising my shields/My shields are up.” “The energy will…” “My intent is…” Simple commands can be very effective, just don’t get too caught up in having good grammar or anything. Sometimes one word works. Sometimes you might want to dictate what you feel or what you want to happen.
  3. Do some breathing exercises. These are not for everybody, but again, something physical for you to do. A very simple exercise is to imagine your shields swelling big big bigger when you inhale, and then coming in tight around you, right against your skin, when you exhale. Works with energy, works with some spells, helps with meditation and grounding.
  4. Close your eyes. Sometimes, especially when you’re a beginner and can’t see what you’re doing, just closing your eyes can make a difference. By taking away that sense, you sharpen your other senses a little more, and it gets a lot easier to practice. When I’m in a very high or low part of my mood disorder, I have a lot of trouble concentrating on magic and on energy. I find that closing my eyes can help me by disconnecting me a little from what I’m seeing and I can pay more attention to what I’m actually doing.

Again, these are things that I do when I’m having issues with visualization. If they don’t work for you, try something else! These aren’t the only ways, and you can combine them however you’d like. I’d also love to know the practices that other people use in energy work, be it visualization, one of these techniques, a combination, or something else entirely!

4 Calming Meditation Techniques

Mantra meditation

According to the Mayo Clinic, the mantra meditation technique is a great calming meditation method. During mantra meditation, you mentally (silently) repeat a calming word, or mantra. The repetition of the mantra will replace all busy thoughts and help you shut out the outside world, thus calming your mind and body. The Mayo Clinic adds that transcendental meditation is another specific calming mantra meditation technique that can be effectively used to relax.

Mindful mediation

The Mayo Clinic recommends the mindful mediation technique to calm the mind. In mindful meditation, you increase your awareness of the present moment. You focus only on what you are experiencing in the exact moment while meditating, such as your breathing or the sensation of your feet touching the floor, and therefore keep your thoughts from wandering. Mindful, or mindfulness, meditation can be performed pretty much anywhere and while engaging in many different tasks, such as washing the dishes or walking.

Progressive muscle relaxation

According to the Arthritis Foundation, progressive muscle relaxation is a simple technique that has great calming benefits. With progressive muscle relaxation, you progressively tense and relax the various muscles in your body, either starting at your feet and moving upward, or starting at the top of your head and moving downward. You tense each muscle group for five or 10 seconds and then release the tension. Sit or lie in a comfortable position and focus on your breathing while performing this calming meditation.


According to Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life by Shakti Gawain, visualization is a meditation technique that can calm you and ease stress. With visualization, according to Gawain, if you repeatedly focus on an idea and give it positive energy, it will become a reality. You can do this to improve several areas of your life, including your job, home and even health.


Here’s a strange but true fact about us complicated humans: our brains can’t actually distinguish all that clearly between real events and imagined ones. So by using creative visualization, you can harness the power of the mind to define your purpose. Using your imagination, you can create a memory bank of positive experiences that will motivate you and improve your self-image. In turn, these visions will help you believe in your potential to make your dreams a reality.
—  Jillian Michaels, Unlimited:  How to Build an Exceptional Life