In the comments to Joe's last post we discussed SPIRES as a source of information on what is going on in physics. I don't want to discount SPIRES - it is a very complete and useful database for particle physics - but it doesn't tell the whole story. To get another angle let's take the top cited papers from the last decade according to NASA's Astrophysical Data System, the database most commonly used by astrophysicists. I have thrown out the "Reviews of Particle Physics" for the reasons stated in Joe's previous post. The full list follows but the summary by sub-field is this: cosmology had four papers (all from WMAP including the top 3 and #8), condensed matter had three papers (#4, #5, and #7), astrophysics outside of cosmology had two papers (#6 and #9), and AMO had one paper (#10).
What's my point? I agree completely that WMAP is one of the most productive scientific expiraments in human history, but what I'm trying to get across is that (a) there are other important things going on in physics right now and (b) each sub-field will create different lists of the "top papers" in physics.
Here's the full list (in case you are curious):
1) Citations: 5968
Spergel, D. N.; Verde, L.; Peiris, H. V.; Komatsu, E.; Nolta, M. R.; Bennett, C. L.; Halpern, M.; Hinshaw, G.; Jarosik, N.; Kogut, A.; and 7 coauthors
First-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations: Determination of Cosmological Parameters
2) Citations: 4227.
Spergel, D. N.; Bean, R.; Doré, O.; Nolta, M. R.; Bennett, C. L.; Dunkley, J.; Hinshaw, G.; Jarosik, N.; Komatsu, E.; Page, L.; and 12 coauthors
Three-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations: Implications for Cosmology
3) Citations: 2779
Bennett, C. L.; Halpern, M.; Hinshaw, G.; Jarosik, N.; Kogut, A.; Limon, M.; Meyer, S. S.; Page, L.; Spergel, D. N.; Tucker, G. S.; and 11 coauthors
First-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations: Preliminary Maps and Basic Results
4) Citations: 2593
Wolf, S. A.; Awschalom, D. D.; Buhrman, R. A.; Daughton, J. M.; von Molnár, S.; Roukes, M. L.; Chtchelkanova, A. Y.; Treger, D. M.
Spintronics: A Spin-Based Electronics Vision for the Future
5) Citations: 2455
Albert, Réka; Barabási, Albert-László
Statistical mechanics of complex networks
6) Citations: 2368
York, Donald G.; Adelman, J.; Anderson, John E., Jr.; Anderson, Scott F.; Annis, James; Bahcall, Neta A.; Bakken, J. A.; Barkhouser, Robert; Bastian, Steven; Berman, Eileen; and 134 coauthors
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey: Technical Summary
7) Citations: 2143
Dietl, T.; Ohno, H.; Matsukura, F.; Cibert, J.; Ferrand, D.
Zener Model Description of Ferromagnetism in Zinc-Blende Magnetic Semiconductors
8) Citations: 1988
Komatsu, E.; Dunkley, J.; Nolta, M. R.; Bennett, C. L.; Gold, B.; Hinshaw, G.; Jarosik, N.; Larson, D.; Limon, M.; Page, L.; and 9 coauthors
Five-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe Observations: Cosmological Interpretation
9) Citations: 1984
Bruzual, G.; Charlot, S.
Stellar population synthesis at the resolution of 2003
10) Citations: 1955
Greiner, Markus; Mandel, Olaf; Esslinger, Tilman; Hänsch, Theodor W.; Bloch, Immanuel
Quantum phase transition from a superfluid to a Mott insulator in a gas of ultracold atoms