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Buckyballs: The Hottest Game in Town

While the Final Four tournament showcases college basketball's crème de la crème, the Top Four in physical sciences excel at an entirely different game: buckyball. In the latest analysis from the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) in Philadelphia, the top four authors with the most hot papers--culled from 944 often-cited papers published between 1990 and 1996--all study buckyballs, or fullerenes, the soccerball-shaped carbon molecules that scientists are finding more and more uses for. Other hot papers of the '90s are on superconductivity, nuclear magnetic resonance, and computer programs for determining molecular structures.

The institution with the most hot-paper citations in the physical sciences is Bell Labs Innovations, the former AT&T Bell Labs now owned by Lucent Technologies, in Murray Hill, New Jersey, with 18,840 cites. IBM Corp. pulls up second (13,020), followed by Cambridge University (9131). Cambridge led on "impact," or cites per highly cited paper, with a score of 415, followed by NEC Corp., Ltd., of Tsukuba, Japan (348), and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in California (309).

Material from the survey is available in exquisite detail from ISI (e-mail: for $495.