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Research Areas in Mad Science, 1810-Present September 30, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words.
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I really enjoy a thorough and systematic perusal of research papers to discern the real conclusions of reproducible science.  The repeated studies tend to mitigate the errors inherent in badly–designed or biased studies.

Naturally, when I came across Annalee Newitz’ (with additional research by Kelly Faircloth and Mary Ratliff) fine summary of mad science projects and studies in the august journal io9, well, I just got all excited.  In this survey 200 sources of literature (including movies, which I realize narrow-minded folk do not consider literature) were analyzed and areas of specialization were tabulated.  What did the researchers discover?  First, a year-over-year increase in the number of mad scientists, which seems reasonable given the sheer, raw power of my genius!!!

Ahem.  Sorry about that.  The researchers have drawn several well-supported conclusions from their data:

  • ”Of all the sciences, biology seems to enjoy the most adherence from the maniacal – followed closely by its sister discipline, biotechnology.”
  • “Nuclear research gets crazy after the 1950s, as does physics.”
  • “Mechanical engineering, with its focus on huge industrial machines or tiny nanobots, is a perfect research topic for the maniacal – especially if they are planning to build a robot army.”
  • “…chemistry is one of the longest-standing fascinations for mad scientists…though there is never a big spike in chemistry’s allure for the insane, it’s always bubbling there in the background. Mad chemistry never goes out of style.”

Follow the summary link to the summary, the appendices (!) and an extensive bibliography.

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