The 100 most-cited papers of all time

Plazma Inferno!

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The discovery of high-temperature superconductors, the determination of DNA’s double-helix structure, the first observations that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating — all of these breakthroughs won Nobel prizes and international acclaim. Yet none of the papers that announced them comes anywhere close to ranking among the 100 most highly cited papers of all time.
Citations, in which one paper refers to earlier works, are the standard means by which authors acknowledge the source of their methods, ideas and findings, and are often used as a rough measure of a paper’s importance. Fifty years ago, Eugene Garfield published the Science Citation Index (SCI), the first systematic effort to track citations in the scientific literature. To mark the anniversary, Nature asked Thomson Reuters, which now owns the SCI, to list the 100 most highly cited papers of all time. The search covered all of Thomson Reuter’s Web of Science, an online version of the SCI that also includes databases covering the social sciences, arts and humanities, conference proceedings and some books. It lists papers published from 1900 to the present day.
The exercise revealed some surprises, not least that it takes a staggering 12,119 citations to rank in the top 100 — and that many of the world’s most famous papers do not make the cut.
Every one of the top 10 cited papers seem to be on the subject of biochemistry and particularly electrophoretic technology.

I think it probably means that more subsequent discoveries in biochemical science are based on those than anything else, which makes perfect sense because biochemistry is possibly the most nuanced and complex things science must study. It is a laborious and time and energy consuming process as well as one that can hardly be described in form or function in a small number of related papers.

Comparison of that science to almost any other would of course be like comparing a few grains of sand to an entire beach. The mountain analogy has nothing at all to do with any kind of hierarchy in this case. It is only a reflection of the complexity and interdependence of what is being studied.
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