Infographics Show How the Different Fields of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics & Computer Science Fit Together

Ask anyone who’s pursued a career in the sciences what first piqued their interest in what would become their field, and they’ll almost certainly have a story. Gazing at the stars on a camping trip, raising a pet frog, fooling around with computers and their components: an experience sparks a desire for knowledge and understanding, and the pursuit of that desire eventually delivers one to their specific area of specialization.

Or, as they say in science, at least it works that way in theory; the reality usually unrolls less smoothly. On such a journey, just like any other, it might help to have a map.

Enter the work of science writer and physicist Dominic Walliman, whose animated work on the Youtube channel Domain of Science we’ve previously featured here on Open Culture. (See the “Related Content” section below for the links.)

Walliman’s videos astutely explain how the subfields of biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and computer science relate to each other, but now he’s turned that same material into infographics readable at a glance: maps, essentially, of the intellectual territory. He’s made these maps, of biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and computer science, freely available on his Flickr account: you can view them all on a single page here along with a few more of his infographics..

As much use as Walliman’s maps might be to science-minded youngsters looking for the best way to direct their fascinations into a proper course of study, they also offer a helpful reminder to those farther down the path — especially those who’ve struggled with the blinders of hyperspecialization — of where their work fits in the grand scheme of things. No matter one’s field, scientific or otherwise, one always labors under the threat of losing sight of the forest for the trees. Or the realm of life for the bioinformatics, biophysics, and biomathematics; the whole of mathematics for the number theory, the differential geometry, and the differential equations; the workings of computers for the scheduling, the optimization, and the boolean satisfiability.

Related Content:

The Map of Biology: Animation Shows How All the Different Fields in Biology Fit Together

The Map of Computer Science: New Animation Presents a Survey of Computer Science, from Alan Turing to “Augmented Reality”

The Map of Mathematics: Animation Shows How All the Different Fields in Math Fit Together

The Map of Physics: Animation Shows How All the Different Fields in Physics Fit Together

The Map of Chemistry: New Animation Summarizes the Entire Field of Chemistry in 12 Minutes

The Art of Data Visualization: How to Tell Complex Stories Through Smart Design

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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Comments (8)
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  • Brett Bydairk says:

    This sounds very much like the Nexialism that A.E. Van Vogt wrote about in his 1950 SF novel The Voyage Of The Space Beagle.

  • alan says:

    These are great. My daughter is very interested in these (which is unusual!)

    Any chance of being able to download larger versions so I can print to put up on her bedroom wall?


  • ibrahim says:

    These are great. Thanks

  • LRD says:

    There is an interesting irony about these “maps”. Unless I’m missing it, I don’t see the one field that is actually built on maps – the earth sciences/geophysics like geography, geology, environmental science (distinct from ecology), remote sensing, astronomy, etc The closest are ecology and environmental biology but those aren’t the same thing. These are interdisciplinary fields so I could see them being difficult to place on any one “map”, so maybe earth science needs its own???

  • Fitzy says:

    Yes how can we get higher-resolution versions of these? I’d love to print out a few to put on the wall for the kids!!

  • Linda Moran says:

    I’d be willing to pay to get professionally printed, large versions of these.

  • Vince says:

    This is an outdated view of science with silos for each disciplines. I’m a biologists and work with chemists, engineers, physicist and computer scientists every day. That is the future of science.

  • Natalie Waite says:

    Not such an outdated view–all of education is structured that and will have to be categorical to some degree for learning purposes. You mention being a biologist. Think of the functional structure of the human brain’s sensory optic area.

    Each literal location on the retina is spatially related on a gradient to the physical brain matter. Then via a different, but interlocking dimension of physical brain space, there is gradient representing the angle of a presented angle bar of light. These are very particular “silos” (categories) to put visual information into, but they cross-reference each other in 3D brain matter in ways that allow for the computation of visual information.

    Likewise, the disciplines have connections that cross-reference one other. (Similar areas are near each other visually in these infographics). There is no problem with “turning the cube” so to speak so that the focus is on the bar of light (on the cross-references) instead of retinal spatial location (standard disciplinary lines). In fact, as you describe, such helpful conceptual re-framing is happening in sciences now. The reality is though, that no view can be complete at once in 2-D. A 3D version of these infographics would be awesome, but surely confusing (if even possible).

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