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Most influencial STEM papers or books

  1. Oct 3, 2015 #1

    micromass

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    Recently, I've been interested in finding out the most cited science paper. The result can be found here, and is rather startling http://www.nature.com/news/the-top-100-papers-1.16224
    It turns out the most cited science paper is: "Protein measurement with the folin phenol reagent." by Lowry, Rosebrough, Farr and Randall. I doubt many people heard of this, despite it having a staggering 300,000 citations. The rest of the top 5 is also filled completely with biology lab methods.

    Very interesting outcome. But I am more interested in what people consider to be the best/most influential science papers or books. Obviously, such a list is highly subjective. But let's see what the PF users come up with. Every paper or book in STEM is allowed. So the fields can be physics, biology, mathematics, engineering, etc. The paper or book can be from all times, so it can go from the ancient Greeks, and the renaissance to cutting edge science.

    I'm very interested in the answers!
     
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  3. Oct 3, 2015 #2

    mfb

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    The Higgs discovery papers could enter this list in the future. The papers are from July 2012 and accumulated 4987 (ATLAS) and 4883 (CMS) citations, respectively (4730 shared citations). Higgs physics will certainly stay interesting, and those papers are the standard references for "a new particle has been discovered which looks like the Higgs boson".
    We see different citation styles here. You rarely have standard references for things that are done in every physics analysis.
    "Then we subtract the background [13]." - no.
     
  4. Oct 3, 2015 #3

    Bystander

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  5. Oct 3, 2015 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    Even though I was involved in the Higgs discovery papers, I don't think these are competitive for most influential. Discovery of the electron, for example, was far more influential - it opened up the fields of particle physics and of course electronics. The Principia is a good candidate for the list. Whichever text Fibonacci used to introduce Arabic numbers in general and "zero" in particular to the West is a very good candidate.
     
  6. Oct 3, 2015 #5

    mfb

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    I didn't list them as most influencial papers, I listed them for their citation count.

    If you count everything related to particle physics and electronics towards the influence of the electron discovery, then all most influencial discoveries have been done long ago - no discovery of the 21st century would have been possible without at least one previous discovery which is then more influencial.
     
  7. Oct 3, 2015 #6

    reenmachine

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    Euclid

    Edit: Darwin On The Origins of Species
     
  8. Oct 4, 2015 #7
    Maybe not the most influential ever, but I would have to throw in Cosmos by Carl Sagan. He was amazing at bringing science to the public.
     
  9. Oct 4, 2015 #8
    One thing I can think of on the top of my head is M. Faraday's law of electromagnetic induction, but I can't find a paper on it.
     
  10. Oct 4, 2015 #9

    Vanadium 50

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    Yes, but the thread title says "influential".
     
  11. Oct 4, 2015 #10

    micromass

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    Yes, I realize the thread is a little ambiguous since I talked about citations. But I don't really care about citations. I just want to hear opinions on influential and interesting science works, whether they have many citations or not.
     
  12. Oct 4, 2015 #11

    mheslep

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    Everything that comes to mind as influential is on the wiki site.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_important_publications_in_science

    The problem I suspect with identifying influential/important papers by citation count is that the paper by definition changes thinking dramatically in the science, sends it off in new directions where there are not yet mature tools for investigation. People enter the new area, create a tool or method that a great many find useful and that tool becomes a standard, is cited for generations.
     
  13. Oct 14, 2015 #12

    epenguin

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    I can remember it being discussed more than once in Science Citation Index, I think it was called (does it still go on?) how a few 'Methods' papers typically achieved very high citation counts. I'd guess in 2 out of 3 biochemical researches you'd have to measure protein concentrations. You write the paper and you automatically write in Methods: "Protein concentrations were determined by the method of..." And put in the reference, possibly copying it from your earlier paper or someone else's or from the reference given in Methods in Enzymology or similar practical handbooks of which you have a photocopy which was what you used. You've never read or even seen the original paper, and maybe your institution's library doesn't even have the 1926 or so journal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
  14. Oct 14, 2015 #13

    epenguin

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    "A structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid" by Watson & Crick , 1953, is almost impossible to beat.
     
  15. Oct 17, 2015 #14

    Astronuc

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  16. Oct 19, 2015 #15

    mathwonk

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    In addition to Euclid, mentioned above, there are: On two new sciences by Galileo, and the complete works of Riemann, including his works on theta functions, prime numbers, topology of surfaces, and the foundations of geometry, not to mention the brief treatment defining his integral and giving a complete proof of its range of validity (not due to Lebesgue as is often stated); also Einstein's On the electrodynamics of moving bodies.
     
  17. Oct 19, 2015 #16

    ogg

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    As you're no doubt quite cognizant of, "most influential" is completely subjective, and worse yet, completely historical*. That is, often A > B if A came first but A < B if B did. (hence we use Publication Date as a proxy to order the set of novel ideas/facts) Seems to me (but I'm not well informed about international schooling) that more people have been exposed to the fundamentals of Euclid's Elements than anything but perhaps Plato's Dialogues. I expect that either or both of those have been the "primary source" for more neural restructuring/learning in more brains than anything else in STEM. (isn't the M in STEM for "Medicine" not "Mathematics"?) Of course one can debate [haha] whether the Dialogues 'belong' in STEM...
    *historical at the personal not necessarily population (or culture) level. If I read A before I read B, then its likely A has a greater chance to influence me than B, while some other reader reading B before A would likely have the opposite experience. (subject of course to receptivity and priming influences...). I'd be very surprized if we took a poll of all Nobel STEM Prize winners and found anything near a consensus. (I'd guess two reasons: 1. they generally take the road less traveled and 2. self-analysis isn't something our species is any good at.) Which gets back to "most influential": to who (or to what set of people)?
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015
  18. Oct 19, 2015 #17

    mathwonk

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    This reminds of an interesting book, The 100 most influential persons in history, by Michael H. Hart. His list has a number of prophets, explorers, and conquerors, but also contains Isaac Newton at #2, and Einstein, Galileo, Pasteur, Euclid, Copernicus, and Watt, all in the top 25, folowed closely by Faraday, Maxwell, and Lavoisier. He makes a good case for his choices, emphasizing influence over scientific greatness, thus Archimedes is only an honorable mention, while Euclid is #22/100. (Darwin is his #17.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015
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