“Oh, you work on systems biology? So do I!”
New buzzwords to describe scientific disciplines and technologies seem to pop up every year. For the fun of it, I have developed a small web resource, BuzzClouds, that provides a visual overview of the latest buzzwords in biomedicine.
Without destroying your weekend with mathematical formulas, here is how the BuzzCloud selection and visualization method works:
- A list of potential buzzwords is constructed by extracting all one- and two-word phrases ending on -ics, -ology, -omy, -phy, -chemistry, -medicine, or -sciences. These endings were select to get buzzwords that correspond to scientific disciplines and technologies.
- The potential buzzwords are ranked according to a score that takes into account their frequencies within the past year and within the preceding decade (for details see this review article). To get a high score, a buzzword must be both frequent and new. The top-50 buzzwords are included in the cloud.
- The size of each buzzword is proportional to the logarithm of its frequency during the past year. Common buzzwords are thus large where as rare buzzwords are small.
- The brightness of each buzzword shows the frequency of the buzzword within the past year relative to the preceding decade. New buzzwords are thus bright whereas the older ones are darker.
- Finally, each buzzword is assignd a tint that goes from yellow via white to cyan based on how often it occurs in scientific journals (yellow) as opposed to medical journals (cyan).
When run for the year 2007, the end result looks like this (BuzzClouds for other years are available from the web resource):
I think the method does a pretty decent job despite the occasional mistakes such as nice technology and timely topics. In terms of scientific buzzwords, quantitative proteomics is booming, systems biology still hot although it is getting a bit long in the tooth, and synthetic biology is rapidly gaining popularity. And nanotechnology seems to be popular within the medical domain, giving rise to buzzwords like nanomedicine and nanotherapeutics.
Maybe I should write a buzzword-compliant, interdisciplinary grant application that combines click chemistry and synthetic biology to develop novel nanotherapeutics.