Thursday, July 31, 2008
Neurotree is a really cool website that aims to create and store the training relationships between neuroscientists. From it, I learned that on one side of my family, the Bean side, I am 6 steps from Charles Sherrington (below, from Wikimedia), the English physiologist who coined the term "nociceptor" (yup, I actually read his book The Integrative Action of the Nervous System, where he used that term. How come that wasn't on the damn book list meme, eh?). Sherrington shared the 1932 Nobel with Lord Adrian for their work on neuronal physiology, and trained three Nobelists as well: Eccles, Granit and Florey.
The other half of my tree, the Clapham side (hmm, I am Bean-Clapham spawn! Something about that makes me chuckle. In an uncomfortable way), brings me to a distinct group of physiologists, with Erwin Neher (gulp, another Laureate), up to Haldan Keffer Hartline (another Laureate) , who himself trained with Werner Heisenberg!. Wow, I didn't know that! For those of you keeping score at home, that's another Laureate, this time in Physics.
Great; now I can fail to live up to my academic parents' expectations, as well as my real life ones! :) Ok, my real parents always said they'd be happy with whatever I chose to do. Hopefully my academic parents agree!
The other cool thing about Neurotree is the cluster analysis of neuroscientists, which reflects the relatedness of the various subdisciplines within neuroscience. Having some way of tracking the changes in this through time would be pretty cool. I wonder if you had the information about how those clusters changed through time, would you be able to pinpoint the early papers and workers who led this shift? They are real pioneers of new clusters. Could you also tie that into people's published works? I wonder how those papers that signal the birth of a new cluster would rate on the citation analysis metrics some people are so worried about?
Now anyone can browse the tree, so go check it out. If you're a neuroscientist and haven't been added, then go make an account and fill in some details.