Things to read, things to do

The magazine Popular Science is a 138 year old publication, offering scientific insights into everyday things as well as a potential glimpse of the everyday from tomorrow. But what about the tomorrow of yesterday? How did things look then? Well, now you can find out for free as the entire archive of Popular Science has been put online in collaboration with google. Past editions are shown complete even down to their contemporary adverts. Just as some other publications choose to wrap up even today’s articles in paywalls…

But what about more indepth actual science? What is going on in astronomy? A review paper of the past decade in astronomy and astrophysics has looked up the one hundred most cited (ie given as evidence or interest in newer papers) papers published in the years 2000-2009. Analysis shows that the papers are more heavily biased to collaborations than ones with fewer authors (self-citations were not removed or accounted for in this study). Extragalactic topics put papers in that stay for the shortest time in the top 100 and the top papers tend to be much longer than average. Databases being repeatedly mined mean that people who produce them and make them available will find high returns in terms of papers produced using them. The paper finds there are between 34-43 astronomy or astrophysics journals (Nature and Science are multidisciplinary, therefore not exclusively astro related) of which the top five account for the lion’s share of all papers in the top 100 (80-85%) as well as in the top 1000 (77%) – although they do produce around 80% of all articles covered in this survey. These are Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Astrophysical Journal, the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, the Astronomical Journal and Astronomy & Astrophysics. All are European imprints with three IoP and one RAS related journal (Nature is also London based with Science the sole US publication). The numbers of citations are well correlated to citation rank by a power law. 9 papers are cited higher than the level suggested by the law, of which seven are related to WMAP releases, one covers a one off cosmic ray observation and the other a stellar evolution model. The number of publishes papers is increasing at a rate of around 3% a year. The survey was compiled by Jay A Frogel of the New York based Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy.

And what about the future itself for a specific area of science. The Global Lunar Conference 2010 aims to bring together scientists to show off results, network and bring together working groups to tackle the issues in lunar research. It began today in China and will run until Thursday. There are no bank holidays in scientific investigation.


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