Design · Digital Media · Science · Technology

Paperscape: A map of 871,888 scientific papers from the arXiv until today

A chart of 870,000 scientific studies so far. Paperscape shows each scientific paper as a circle, with the size of each determined by how many others cite it. Users can toggle the heat map, which colors each study according to its age. ArXiv began in 1991. A cluster around the topic dark energy shows that it spans multiple fields, including quantum cosmology, quantum physics, and condensed matter.

The study of the universe is a universe itself. An infographic designed by two physicists maps the hundreds of thousands of studies in arXiv, an open repository for physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, finance, and statistics papers that is maintained by Cornell University. The category of a paper’s research determines the color of its circle, and the more cited the paper is, the bigger its circle. Each marker is placed according to the number of references it takes to get from it to each other paper. Accordingly, papers are clustered around topics, such as extrasolar planets, dwarf stars, and superconductivity. Some multicolored clusters show where disciplines intersect around topics like neutrinos, dark matter, dark energy, and networks. Toggle the heat map to color each study according to its age to see which topics are getting the most attention. To learn more about how the infographic works, see its blog.

Film/Video/New Media · Human-ities · Performativity · Social/Politics

Deep Inside: The Statistics of Porn (USA)

For the first time, a massive data set of 10,000 porn stars has been extracted from the world’s largest database of adult films and performers. I’ve spent the last six months analyzing it to discover the truth about what the average performer looks like, what they do on film, and how their role has evolved over the last forty years.

The average male and female performer are the same height as the average American man and woman: 5’10″ and 5’5″ respectively. However, porn stars are quite a bit lighter. At 117 lbs, the average female performer is a considerable 48 lbs under the national average for women, and the average male, at 167.5 lbs, weighs 27 lbs less than the national average for men. So, just how were these porn stars’ weights determined when they were typed, probably with one hand, into the database?

The Internet Adult Film Database’s data is culled from various sources, including performers’ modelling profiles and the information they give during interviews in the porn films themselves. So presumably at some point the heaviest woman in my sample, who weighs 719 lbs (about the same as two giant pandas), and the lightest woman, who weighs 10 times less, at 74 lbs (the same as the average American 10-year-old girl), mentioned their weights, and an owl-eared fan heard them and rushed to the database to pop them in.

Excerpt from a study by Jon Millward. Continue HERE

Human-ities · Science · Social/Politics · Theory

Should We Be Optimistic?

If ignorance is bliss, then optimism must be euphoria. Thanks to a mechanism called the optimism bias, humans are pretty much incapable of applying basic risk statistics to their own lives. We know smoking causes cancer, but we don’t expect it to happen to us. We find a lump on our body and we tell ourselves it’s probably nothing.

Although the term optimism bias was first used in the 1980’s, psychologist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman was most likely the one who made it part of general vocabulary. In his 2011 book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Kahneman notes that “people tend to be overly optimistic about their relative standing on any activity in which they do moderately well.” The optimism bias generates the illusion of control: the idea that we are in control of our lives. Bad things only happen to others.

You can see where this bright outlook on life can cause trouble. Wearing seatbelts? Not necessary. Opening a savings account? Maybe later. Being overly optimistic in life puts us at risk. In addition, people who show cheerful, optimistic personality traits during childhood, have a shorter life expectancy than their more serious counter parts. On the other hand, optimists are more psychologically resilient, have stronger immune systems, and live longer on average than more reality-based opposites. So who’s better off in life; the optimist or the pessimist? And who’s reality comes closest to the truth?

Excerpt from an article written by Anouk Vleugels, United Academics. Continue HERE

The Positive Power of Negative Thinking

Human-ities · Science · Theory

Turning Scientific Perplexity into Ordinary Statistical Uncertainty



To show how statistical models are built, the authors of Principles of Applied Statistics use a study on the relation between diabetes control and efforts to explain the disease to patients. The relevant variables (a) are baseline variables such as education, gender and duration of disease; attribution (how individuals conceive their responsibility in managing and treating the disease); knowledge about the disease; and the outcome, a measure of how successfully individuals control glucose levels. Defining the relation between each pair of variables creates a regression chain, a sequence in which the variables in a given box depend on all those in the preceding boxes. After analyzing the data, a simpler version (b) can be proposed: Control of glucose levels depends on knowledge about the disease, which depends on baseline variables; baseline variables also affect glucose control directly. Probability, the authors write, “is used to represent, possibly in highly idealized form, a phenomenon in the real world. As such it is not essentially different from concepts like mass, force and energy.”

D. R. Cox published his first major book, Planning of Experiments, in 1958; he has been making major contributions to the theory and practice of statistics for as long as most current statisticians have been alive. He is now in a reflective phase of his career, and this book, coauthored with the distinguished biostatistician Christl A. Donnelly, is a valuable distillation of his experience of applied work. It stands as a summary of an entire tradition of using statistics to address scientific problems.

Excerpt from an text by Cosma Shalizi, at American Scientist. Continue HERE

Blog-Sites · Digital Media · Human-ities · Performativity · Technology

Just how big are porn sites?

According to Google’s DoubleClick Ad Planner, which tracks users across the web with a cookie, dozens of adult destinations populate the top 500 websites. Xvideos, the largest porn site on the web with 4.4 billion page views per month, is three times the size of CNN or ESPN, and twice the size of Reddit. LiveJasmin isn’t much smaller. YouPorn, Tube8, and Pornhub — they’re all vast, vast sites that dwarf almost everything except the Googles and Facebooks of the internet.

While page views are a fine starting point, they only tell you that X porn site is more popular than Y non-porn site. Four billion page views sure sounds like a lot, but it’s only when you factor in what those porn surfers are actually doing that the size and scale of adult websites truly comes into focus.

Excerpt from an article written by Sebastian Anthony at ExtremeTech. Read it HERE