Saturday, June 8, 2013

More Fun with Google NGram

I know it's not perfect, but I get a real kick out of searching Google NGram Viewer for scientific terms. While discussing the difference between "analogue" and "analog" as they relate to drugs, Chemjobber sent over the NGram comparing their usage.

Once more, I found myself falling down the NGram rabbit hole...

Derek Lowe's played with this a bit over at Pipeline. One thing his commenters wanted to highlight? Carbene. Turns out, when the first neutral lone pair appeared on carbon (around 1910), not many people wrote it down as such. When v.Eggers-Doering and Simmons / Smith began incorporating carbenes into organic synthesis in the mid-'50s, BOOM! They exploded onto the scene:

Vitamins, which were virtually unknown as food additives impacting human heath in the 1800s, were rapidly identified by the early 1900s. In just 20 short years, they went from nonexistent to appearing three out of a hundred thousand published words:

When van Leeuwenhoek first peered through his first microscopes, he called the protozoa, bacteria, amoebae, and various other biology "animalcules." This persisted for a few centuries, until Pasteur and Koch began to advance the germ theory. The result? In just a few short years, microorganisms - both literal and literary - took over:

Readers - Play around, and tell me if you can find some more fun trends! 
I'll update accordingly...

Update (6/8/13) - Thanks Andrew, 0.001% is NOT 1 our of a thousand (D'oh!)


  1. I always wondered how to do this and never quite bothered to find out. I'll have a play!

    Also- 0.003% is three in 100k words, no?

  2. enantioselective is another good one.

  3. Ylide vs Ylid. I did my PhD on sulfur ylide chemistry (my selections clarified) and was sure that ylid was the old-school way to write it (even though it is actually how we pronounce it). This appears to be true(ish).

    Sulfur vs Sulfur is interesting also (**spoiler** recently, sulfur wins, but not by the margin I expected.