Stigler’s Law of Eponymy and Marey’s Train Schedule

Did Serjev Do It Before Ibry, and What About Jules Petiet?

Visual Revelations

Stigler’s law of eponymy: No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer.1

In the 1878 edition of his book La Méthode Graphique dans les Sciences Expérimentales et Particuliérement en Physiologie et en Médecine, French scientist E. J. Marey (1830–1904) reproduced a marvelous graphic train schedule whose design he attributed to Ibry (see Figure 1). The vertical axis is geographic, showing the train stations between Paris and Lyon spaced proportional to their physical distance. The horizontal axis represents one day of time spaced in one-hour intervals. Drawn on this framework are slanted lines that represent trains. Trains from the top left to the bottom right are those going from Paris to Lyon; those with the opposite slope go from Lyon to Paris. Faster trains have a steeper slope. An entire train schedule can be seen and understood in a glance.

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