Posts Tagged ‘biology’

Programming glitch leaves Cambridge, MA off scientific map

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 03-22-2011

A new method for evaluating top scientific cities based on publication rate has recently been proposed. The paper by Lutz Bornmann at the Max Planck Society in Munich and Loet Leydesdorff at the University of Amsterdam is entitled:

Which cities produce excellent papers worldwide more than can be expected? A new mapping approach–using Google Maps–based on statistical significance testing

As explained on The Physics arXiv Blog the method reveals cities where highly-cited papers were published by taking the total number of papers cited by researchers from a particular city and then count how many of these appear in the top ten per cent of cited papers.

Right out of the gate, the method revealed a surprising finding that Cambridge, MA, home of MIT and Harvard University did not appear on the list of top cities. However, a review of the program uncovered a mistake in the coding which accidentally failed to distinguish between Cambridge UK and Cambridge MA. Since it has been corrected, Cambridge MA is now marked with a bold green spot on the map and can reclaim its rightful spot as a world-class scientific city.

So far the map has only been created for the disciplines of physics, chemistry and psychology. I eagerly await the launch of a biology map and will be glad to share the results with you when they become available.

To see the physics map click here.

Smartphone App Can Help Determine If You’re More Like a Pig or a Rose

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 09-22-2010

Blair Hedges of Pennsylvania State University and Sudhir Kumar of Arizona State University have created a new smartphone app called “TimeTree,” that allows exploration of the thousands of divergence times among organisms in the published literature. By simply entering two different organisms into the application you can easily compare when in time the two species diverged (calculated using gene mutations to measure time).

According to the website ( those most likely to find the search utility in TimeTree useful will be researchers who already have some knowledge of evolutionary biology and wish to mine the available published data. Nonethless, despite my limited evolutionary biology background I was easily able to ascertain that humans are much closer to pigs (we diverged 98.6 million years ago) than they are to roses (which diverged 1,457.8 million years ago). So I guess that comparing someone to a pig is a higher compliment than comparing them to a rose. After all, a person who is like a pig is much more evolved than a person who acts like a pig!

Thanks to genomeweb for bringing this story to my attention.

Hedges SB, Dudley J & Kumar S (2006) TimeTree: a public knowledge-base of divergence times among organisms. Bioinformatics 22:2971-2972