A map of modern science

Crispian Jago has created a wonderful map of modern science, looking for all the world like the Manhattan subway lines. (Click here to see the full, enlarged version.) Each line corresponds to a branch of modern science, with the stops being notable figures: natural history, chemistry, evolutionary biology (I’m the penultimate stop!), genetics, and the like. The junctions are those who have contributed to two or more fields: the Gould Avenue stop, for example, sits at the intersection of the Evolution and Paleontology lines.

Pity it’s too big to fit on a teeshirt!


  1. Posted September 2, 2010 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    You’re a penultimate stop! There’s glory for you…

  2. David Hillis
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    So to get from Jerry Coyne to Craig Venter, I just have to go one stop and make a transfer?

  3. Ilya
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    “…looking for all the world like the Manhattan subway lines”

    FYI it’s based on the iconic design of the London underground map by Harry Beck:


  4. Posted September 2, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Poor old Lamarck, portrayed as a dead-end track!
    As an Italian I am happy of seeing Marcello Malpighi and Ulisse Aldrovandi, but I can’t spot Lazzaro Spallanzani, who was tremendously important (discovered echolocation, performed in vitro fertilization for the first time, came up with the name Tardigrada for, well, Tardigrada…). I hope he is there somewhere, because he truly deserves a stop on that railway! And is also the only priest I admire…

  5. SWH
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations, however we have to hat tip the man with the real trick, Steven Hawking. His development of time travel it appears, allows him to span four centuries (18th-21st). If you include his holographic guest appearance on Star Trek perhaps even beyond.

  6. Posted September 2, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to have it printed as a wallpaper for the lab.

  7. daveau
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    This needs to be on the wall in my office at home.

  8. Hempenstein
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    It could be handy to have a suitably-sized copy to tack up in place of a withdrawn poster anytime there’s a poster session.

  9. Jay
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Fascinating! Would be interested if anybody determines what size it needs to be printed in order to still be able to read the type.

  10. Ken Pidcock
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know, man. I just tried to follow what I know (microbiology). The map has Howard Florey and Selman Waksman in the 19th century, and where the hell is Salvador Luria? In fact, the whole mid-20th century crew captured in that great line from Carl Zimmer’s MicrocosmosWhile Lederberg was watching E. coli having sex, other scientists were watching it getting sick – seems to be missing.

  11. Posted September 2, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    “Micro biology (sic), Neurology and Medicine” a single thread? Ixnay.

  12. Matthew Cobb
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Luria was a great Russian neuroscientist. But that merely highlights a major flaw – there’s no neuroscience. In fact, the few Neuroscience stations, which include thankfully include Cajal and Sherrington, lead to 21st century microbiology… Microbes do not have neurons! The fact that I am currently attending (and organising) the 13th European Drosophila Neurobiology is merely coincidental to this comment…

    • llewelly
      Posted September 2, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      But of course this is an important window to the TRUTH. Neurons are in fact evil microbes who have taken control of our brains!

    • Ken Pidcock
      Posted September 2, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      I was thinking of the Luria of Luria-Delbrück. This is a genetics and evolutionary biology site, no?

  13. RobinSV
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    “…glaring omissions” for sure. It’s beyond absurd that anyone could draw a line to “21 Century Genetics” that doesn’t include a stop at Thomas Hunt Morgan.

    >end grumpy gripe<

    • RobinSV
      Posted September 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Oops! Big file on a small laptop screen. Thomas is there.

      >end chagrined backdown<

  14. zackoz
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    Will anyone turn it into a wall hanging, I wonder.

    There will certainly be omissions, but it’s a wonderful piece of work.

    I was glad to see how international it all seems, good evidence that the oft-bruited term “Western science” is a misnomer – there is just science. Also, I see several Muslim-sounding names (don’t they know all Muslims are terrorists?).

    Not being a scientist myself, I found many unfamiliar names, but was pleased to see several popularisers, eg Attenborough, and also delighted to see the name of Gerald Durrell, whose books I loved as a kid.

    Next question – how many underground systems anywhere have stations named after scientists?

    • Ilya
      Posted September 3, 2010 at 4:00 am | Permalink

      Moscow underground has stations named after Dmitri Mendeleev, Vladimir Vernadsky, Peter Kropotkin.

      St Petersburg underground has a station named after Mikhail Lomonosov.

      • zackoz
        Posted September 3, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Ilya – (now they need one named after the tragic Vavilov – sorry couldn’t resist….I know, I know, Russian genetics has moved on since Lysenko).

        We don’t have a railway system here in Canberra, but we do have a suburb named after Howard Florey. If I remember rightly, Sydney’s railway stations are named – with boring unoriginality – after their suburban locations.

        I’d imagine Paris’s metro system might have a station or two named for scientists, though I don’t remember noticing any when I was there some years ago.

        • Ilya
          Posted September 4, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink

          Indeed, Paris metro system has stations named after Pierre and Marie Curie, Rene Reaumur, Antoine de Jussieu, Antoine Balard, Louis Pasteur and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. So at least six stations if I haven’t missed anything.

          On the other hand, London tube stations are almost uniformly named after their locations. I gather that underground stations in English-speaking countries are usually named after locations.

  15. Wayne Robinson
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 4:56 am | Permalink

    I’m surprised that Edward Teller gets onto the Map.

    Robert Park, in “Voodoo Science”, doesn’t think much of him, damning him not only for being not a very nice person (his testimony against Oppenheimer got him banned from pursuing his career in nuclear physics), but also because “behind Teller stretches an almost unblemished record of technical failure, going back to his original concept for a thermonuclear bomb”.

    Teller was the scientific driving force behind Reagan’s “Star Wars” program, which eventually wasted 30 billion dollars by the time it was terminated in 1993.

    Like Fleischmann and Pons (of cold fusion fame) he was too optimistic for too long about the feasibility of the X-ray laser, however secrecy allowed most of the story to be largely hidden from the public so as to have his reputation largely preserved.

  16. Eddie Janssen
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Charles Messier?

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