It seems like such an obvious idea once it's stated: With the explosive growth of scientific literature and the concomitant fragmentation of the scientific community into narrow specialties, there must be undisclosed connections lurking. Suppose one field of science has linked medical condition A with symptom B, and a completely different field has linked dietary deficiency C with that same symptom B. The literature then would contain an implicit logical link between A and C, but unless a researcher from one field stumbled upon the other field's literature, that link would never become explicit.

PROGRAM DEVELOPER: Don R. Swanson, professor emeritus of information science at the University of Chicago, has developed a computer program that will allow systematic searching for links in scientific literature.
The idea may be obvious--in fact, it has been discussed by scholars and philosophers of science for decades--but it took the distinguished information scientist Don R....

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?