Famous Scientists for $1,000

Earlier this week we looked at the study of culturomics, which takes the frequency of a word’s use in written literature to quantify cultural trends.  Now we’re going to see what can be done with this data on a larger scale, in this case, measuring the impact of scientists.

Here’s the top 20 from the Science Hall of Fame, which includes over 4,000 names from two centuries…

Though the researchers used milliDarwins as the measure of fame for the study, ACM’s favorite, Bertrand Russell tops the list.

To give you a little more perspective on the timelines involved here, check out this video that covers physicists, chemists and biologists and their level of fame by year.  You’ll find plenty of new names worth looking into further…

Speaking of, who was Claude Bernard?  Turns out he was a french physiologist who worked to bring the scientific method to medicine.  First to use the term milieu intérieur (aka homeostatis), let’s close with a quote from him regarding our bodies’ relationship with the external world, which has some interesting relevance to the Ape Con Myth…

The living body, though it has need of the surrounding environment, is nevertheless relatively independent of it. This independence which the organism has of its external environment, derives from the fact that in the living being, the tissues are in fact withdrawn from direct external influences and are protected by a veritable internal environment which is constituted, in particular, by the fluids circulating in the body.

For more on the Science Hall of Fame, you can check out the article from Science explaining their process or go to Gonzo Labs for other materials from the study’s creators, John Bohannon and Adrian Veres.

Living Outside of the Box

io9 put it best when they said, “Drop whatever you’re doing and watch this.”

That’s not a movie, it’s reality.  In this case, the reality of a Solid Rocket Booster launching the Space Shuttle.  But what about our reality?  Why are the Solid Rocket Boosters having all the fun?  Ask your representative that.  Or even better, yourself.

Reality: It’s far more interesting than anyone is letting on.

Bikes, and Unfortunate Talk of Death

A short documentary on how bikes had the numbers, lost the ground, but came back for the win in the Netherlands.

According to the checklist in the film, the United States (and most other places) have all the key ingredients to drive change on the issue…

  • cities could not cope with traffic
  • very high number of casualties
  • oil crisis, economic crisis

… but sadly we are often in short supply of the given answer:

  • A will to change

Or, one could argue, time to change.

Since you’re probably already aware of how bad traffic is and of the various financial crises plaguing the world, we are left to deal with the casualties.  Of 113 causes selected for the National Vital Statistics Reports for the United States in 2008, motor vehicle accidents were the single leading cause of death not only for those aged 5-14, but also 14-25.  These are two age groups prone to not dying, accounting for only 1.5% of deaths in the United States during 2008.  And while 400 deaths is a big number for the Netherlands, with 13M in population back in ’71, they blow every percentage out of the water getting that number down to 14.  In 2008, the U.S. toll for kids 14 and under was 1,593, which is thankfully down from 2000’s count of 2,591, though no less of a shame.

This isn’t about getting rid of cars altogether, but carving out a real place for bikes in the landscape.  Bike lanes wedged between lines of moving traffic and parked cars don’t cut it.

[Video via Brain Pickings, plus a great set of bike-related links on MetaFilter]

The Two for Tuesday Coffee Break

Looking for something to track this month that doesn’t involve you eating better or exercising more?

Better understand your caffeinated ways with this DIY print from Column Five Media, on which you can paint the results using your coffee.  If your wallet is light (and your eyes are good), you can try working with this preview image and check out their blog for clues on what you can’t read.

Meanwhile, if you’re not the tracking type, Coop is here to let you in on a little secret that can make a difference every day of the year.

[Chart via Laughing Squid]

American Censorship Day: This is NOT a Drill

This one is pretty simple.  If you like the internet, whether it be Facebook, Ape Con Myth or anything in-between, you’ve got a little work to do.  Today, Congress begins hearings on PROTECT-IP, a bill that will allow for widespread and systematic censorship of the internet.  And today, the internet is fighting back.

Fight for the Future sums up the situation here:

The word is Congress might try to push this through by the end of the month.  There is no time to waste if you have any interest in wasting more time on the internet in the future.  Write your representatives, sign a petition, and if you’ve got the time and gumption, call your representatives to follow up.

This is not a joke.  This is not a drill.  If you’re getting tired of having to do this kind of stuff, let your representative know that too.

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