An Underground map of science

I may have put this up before, but can’t be arsed to look it up. This map, first published in 2010, is worth seeing again, and of course we have a new generation of readers. Crispian Jago’s “Modern Science Map” first appeared on his website The Reason Stickand can be seen in larger and clickable form here (clicking on each scientist takes you to his/her Wikipedia entry).   It’s been updated and is arranged  by field, and with the stops in temporal order. Crispian’s explanation:

500 Years of Science, Reason & Critical Thinking via the medium of gross over simplification, dodgy demarcation, glaring omission and a very tiny font.

The map of modern science was created to celebrate the achievements of the scientific method through the age of reason, the enlightenment and modernity.
Despite many of the scientific disciplines mapped having more ancient origins, I have restricted the map to modern science starting from the 16th century scientific revolution.

The map primarily includes modern scientists who have made significant advances to our understanding of the world, however I have also included many present day scientists who fuel a passion for, and advances in, science through communication and science popularisation.

Click on the screenshot below to go to the enlarged and interactive version. It’s a good try, but the “evolution” line would be more like an evolutionary tree than a single lineage. For example, I’m on the lineage two stops down from Stephen Jay Gould, whose ideas didn’t inform mine at all, and one stop before evo-devologist Sean Carroll, who certainly would deny that I influenced him! I’m sure readers in other areas will have beefs, but you have to admit that this is a good try.

h/t: Juris


  1. merilee
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 12:49 pm | Permalink


  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Mornington Crescent is missing

  3. JezGrove
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Such a clever idea – very impressive.

  4. ploubere
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    This is great. The whole point of maps is that they simplify by omission, otherwise they aren’t of much use.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Agreed, “the medium of gross over simplification, dodgy demarcation, glaring omission and a very tiny font”.

      And thanks to Jerry for (re)posting this, I appreciate it so much more today!

  5. Debbie Coplan
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    A beautiful network! I would like to suggest the book, The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson about networks. I’m reading it now so am very excited to see this illustration of a network presented in this post.

  6. Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Great map – will be definitely be linking ot tbhis post in the not too distant future.

  7. Jon Gallant
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I was a little puzzled to find Hedy Lamarr on the Bakerloo Line, two stops from Julian Schwinger. I thought she was on the Piccadilly Line.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Eh? She’s on the Central Line, going by the colour. The Bakerloo is light brown.

      (And colours are about the only thing one can go by, since – inevitably – the ‘lines’ on this map don’t topologically resemble those on the UndergrounD map)


  8. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:22 pm | Permalink


  9. Barry Lyons
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I love this!

  10. Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Nice try!, though some of the names are in a weird non-temporal order, and some recent names are in as science popularisers rather than as notable scientists (e.g. Phil Plait, deGrasse Tyson).

  11. Dun
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    OT: Now trending on Youtube:

    “The Origin of Consciousness – How Unaware Things Became Aware”

    “This video was made possible by a grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation.”

    Uh-oh. Trouble brewing…

    Whether or not this project, funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation, narrows the options for how consciousness arises, it hopes to establish a new way to do science for difficult, contentious problems. Instead of each camp championing its own view and demolishing others, researchers will collaborate and agree to publish in advance how discriminating experiments might be conducted — and then respect the outcomes.

    Dawid Potgieter, a senior program officer at the Templeton World Charity Foundation who is coordinating the endeavor, says that this is just the beginning of a sustained effort to winnow down theories of consciousness. He plans to set up several more of these “structured adversarial collaborations” over the next five years.

    He is realistic about the prospects. “I don’t think we are going to come to a single theory that tells us everything about consciousness,” he said. “But if it were to take a hundred years to solve the mystery of consciousness, I hope we can cut it down to fifty.”

    If physicists had agreed to “respect” the outcome of the Thorne–Hawking–Preskill bet nobody would have discovered the firewall paradox. Templeton’s “new improved” way of doing science is an atrocity.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Yep. Quite worrying. I removed my like immediately after they revealed it.

      Though I have to admit I did not notice the Templeton-ness of the video until the reveal, but in light of that, mentioning panpsychism makes much more sense.


  12. Eli Siegel
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Koch? Beeadle and Tatum? Leaderberg ? Avery?

  13. freiner
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad Desargues caught the train. Puts everything in perspective.

  14. grasshopper
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Michael Behe doesn’t get a mention LOL.
    And I thought Douglas Futuyma might have got a platform. Lamarck got shunted right off the rails, too.

  15. Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I always pause and smile when I see Heddy Lamar’s name as a scientist. A model for girls everywhere. And yes it is the same Heddy Lamar.

    • Andy Lowry
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      She’s one of my heroes, and not so much because of the movies. Without her frequency-hopping ideas, cellphones would not be what they are.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  16. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I find it a great map,(and it includes our host!). I know it is impossible to make a ‘complete’ graph, but there are some glaring ‘Great Omissions’ (unless I did not look properly).
    It mentions Konrad Lorenz, but Nico Tinbergen is missing, It mentions Alfred Wegener, but not Alexander Logie du Toit.
    The latter of the first pair (Tinbergen) did much more than Lorenz to make ethology a science, and the latter of the second pair (du Toit) basically clinched plate tectonics, and contrary to Wegener proposed a plausible mechanism.

  17. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    It also mentioned that Pasteur “reduced the incidence of puerperal fever”, but he just confirmed the actual mechanism of it. The reductions in puerperal fever were made by Ignatz Semmelweiss (one of my unsung heroes), who empirically discovered that washing hands with a chlorine hand-wash before attending to women giving birth, reduced puerperal fever to almost zero. He was basically murdered for promoting his discovery (a sad story), but Pasteur vindicated him about 15 years later.

  18. Andy Lowry
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    What, no Sabine Hossenfelder on the physics line? Maybe her book hasn’t been out long enough yet. If anyone here liked Smolin’s “The Trouble With Physics,” you’d probably like Hossenfelder’s “Lost in Math,” which argues against beauty and naturalism as criteria for judging good directions for physics to follow. She’s also cranky about untestable hypotheses and the failures of the LHC, and argues against another larger collider. I’m frequently delighted by her… blog? Website? PCC(E) has made me cautious about what I call stuff on the internet.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Bee is an antidote to a lot of bullshit although she’s hovering at the point where she might jump the shark. As per JON BUTTERWORTH’S assessment.

      Have you come across Peter Woit? He is also someone who doesn’t mind pointing & laughing at the naked emperors of string theory. Here’s his blog: Not Even Wrong

      • Andy Lowry
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the tip on Not Even Wrong!

      • Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        Both Peter and Sabine are worth following.

        I found the physics line a bit arbitrary. Last ten physicists were more popular than innovative. Further, many innovations in physics move sideways to other fields than in a straight line.

  19. freiner
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t that Hedley Lamarr?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      Nope, it’s Hedy Lamarr, born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler.


      • freiner
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        Actually, I was thinking of Hedley, born Harvey Korman through Mel Brooks via Blazing Saddles.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 19, 2019 at 12:11 am | Permalink

          Ah, sorry, I didn’t get the reference.

          Hedy Lamarr really was a technically competent inventor as well as a film star.


  20. Posted March 18, 2019 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    It’s an odd choice of metaphor as it is sort of unclear what it means to travel along these lines. Certainly science represents a trajectory but in this diagram people are both (named) stations and (unnamed) travelers. If, instead, the travelers are ideas, if they take the wrong turns then can loop back on themselves. But what would that mean? I suspect Tufte would have a field day with this.

    All change for “21st Century Evolutionary Biology!” When are we going to be there?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      I think the choice of metaphor is rather obvious, actually. One tends to think of progress as linear, not least because it lies along a timeline.

      I agree that snags start to arise (as with most metaphors) as soon as one starts going into detail. How to arrange the lines, when some people were active in two or more fields? Or when the contributions of two quite independent people were combined by a successor?

      No way can such a map ever be accurate. But I still like it. It’s decorative, and makes for a good talking point.


  21. Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    What did Fahrenheit ever contribute to physics?

    It’s a serious question btw.


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      A pioneer of exact thermometry, he helped lay the foundations for the era of precision thermometry by inventing the mercury-in-glass thermometer (first practical, accurate thermometer) and Fahrenheit scale (first standardized temperature scale to be widely used). – Wikipedia


  22. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Nice to see that the ‘artist’ properly credits Harry Beck, from whose original design for the Underground map almost every transit/metro map in the world derives.

    For some reason I find this genre of map fascinating and aesthetically satisfying.


    • Posted March 19, 2019 at 5:05 am | Permalink

      Agreed, but the term “Subway Science” grates with me. In Britain, a subway is a pedestrian tunnel under a road.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 19, 2019 at 7:09 am | Permalink

        I agree, but I’ve given up on expecting our American cousins to use correct English. 😉

        (Though I notice PCC used ‘Underground’ in the title, good on him. I’m just as unhappy with ‘Tube’ as ‘subway’ even though London Transport now use it; strictly speaking the ‘tube’ lines were the deep-level lines like the Northern, Piccadilly, etc, built to a restricted profile, hence ‘tube’, while the Metropolitan and District were not ‘tube’ and were in fact built to almost main-line loading gauge.)

        Like all things worth splitting hairs and fighting over, the Underground is complicated, anomalous and not clear-cut. 🙂


  23. Posted March 19, 2019 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I can only assume the topology of the lines isn’t meant to be meaningful much: Turing for example makes no sense next to *those* neighbours if there’s supposed to be intellectual kinship or the like.

    BTW, I am reminded of the mathematicians geneology project which *does* attempt to show those sorts of connections.

    • Posted March 20, 2019 at 4:52 am | Permalink

      Topologically, Alan Turing’s nearest predecessor is Marian Rejewski and his work is very definitely linked, also Claude Shannon and Kurt Gödel. John Von Neuman is also there but far too far up the line in my opinion.

      Alan Turing is also quite near Rosalind Franklin, but not topologically in the sense that there is no nearby connection between the two. They were alive more or less at the same time though.

      • Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        Surely Turing’s own teachers on his subject – Max Newman and Alonzo Church (the latter incredibly important in his own right) would make sense if there’s supposed to be an intellectual connection.

        • Posted March 21, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

          But they’re not on the chart. If they were, they would be on the same line as Turing.

  24. christine janis
    Posted March 19, 2019 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    How on earth are Bob Bakker and Jack Horner on stops *before* Steve Gould??

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] […]

  2. […] via An Underground map of science — Why Evolution Is True […]

  3. […] An Underground map of science — Why Evolution Is True […]

%d bloggers like this: