The 1736 “New Map of the Whole World,” cre­ated by Dutch car­tog­ra­pher Herman Moll, rep­re­sents Cal­i­fornia as an island and out­lines only a por­tion of Aus­tralia (then called New Hol­land), the south­eastern corner of the con­ti­nent drifting like a way­ward cast­away in the middle of the Pacific.

In a recent Meet the Authors talk in Snell Library, Katy Börner — author of “Atlas of Sci­ence: Visu­al­izing What We Know” — said, “The first maps of the planet were not per­fectly cor­rect … I would argue we are in the same state of the art in the map­ping of science.”

She noted that the visual lan­guage used by car­tog­ra­phers in the early days of geo­graph­ical map­making were not yet fully devel­oped nor stan­dard­ized. Today, sci­ence map­makers are treading sim­i­larly uncharted waters as they work to define what it means to visu­alize science.

As Uni­ver­si­ties Libraries Dean Will Wakeling said, Meet the Authors events “act as a stim­u­la­tion for con­ver­sa­tion across campus.” This talk was no excep­tion: Börner curates a trav­eling exhibit called “Places and Spaces: Map­ping Sci­ence,” which attempts to make sci­ence map­ping acces­sible to the gen­eral public. The exhibit arrived on campus last week, and Wakeling called it “the essen­tial com­ple­ment to the book.”

There will be an opening recep­tion for the exhibit this after­noon at 4:30pm in Snell 421. Addi­tion­ally, the Library is devel­oping a series of related pro­grams and events, including a “do-​​it-​​yourself-​​science-​​map” workshop.

His­to­rians and sci­en­tists have used dia­grams and other visual ele­ments to illu­mi­nate the inter­con­nect­ed­ness of research and data for nearly a cen­tury, but sci­ence map­ping is only now emerging as an autonomous field as data gen­er­a­tion rises expo­nen­tially and com­puter tech­nolo­gies capable of ana­lyzing all of it are developed.

The exhibit, a series of sci­ence maps and globes on dis­play in Snell Library, Gallery 360 and Inter­na­tional Vil­lage through the end of March, presents maps and globes cre­ated by artists and sci­en­tists alike. Among them are North­eastern pro­fes­sors Alessandro Vespig­nani and Albert-​​László Barabási and research sci­en­tist Max­i­m­ilian Schich, who works with Barabási in the Center for Com­plex Net­work Research; Schich will give a short dis­cus­sion of his map­making work at today’s event.

Places & Spaces” maps range from an artful model depicting the dis­tri­b­u­tion of patents across the globe to a scatter plot of the var­ious sci­en­tific research dis­ci­plines and how they interact with each other based on paper citations.

As David Lazer of the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence and the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties said in his intro­duc­tion to Börner’s lec­ture, sci­ence map­making is “a remark­ably beau­tiful way of illu­mi­nating hereto­fore invis­ible processes.”