The Life Cycle of Ideas

For Popular Science we analyzed over 12 million scholarly articles, visually investigating how rapidly various scientific disciplines and theories advanced over the years based on an extensive network mapping of citation patterns.

Every scientific idea has its day. Theories are born and experiments are designed; results are put to the test, then disproved or accepted as canon. As scientists discuss an idea, they cite the paper that proposed it in their own work. Then, as the conversation moves on, references to the paper drop off. We visualized this big story for “The Life Cycle of Ideas” in Popular Science.