“The age at which scientists make important contributions is getting older over time,” Weinberg told LiveScience.
By 2000, great work before age 30 almost never happened in any of the three fields. In physics, great achievements by age 40 occurred in only 19 percent of cases by the year 2000, and in chemistry, it almost never occurred.
“The image of the brilliant young scientist who makes critical breakthroughs in science is increasingly outdated, at least in these three disciplines,” Weinberg said. “Today, the average age at which physicists do their Nobel Prize-winning work is 48. Very little breakthrough work is done by physicists under 30.”
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“It’s never too late.”
Perhaps I drew a different conclusion: you need to work super-hard for an extra decade before you can make substantial scientific progress. That probably speaks more to the super-advanced state of science at the moment than it does about one’s numerical age…?
I’d suspect that much of the skewing occurs as a result of Big Science. The Nobel often goes to the team leader for a large effort such as in particle physics. On the other hand it would be nice to think I’ve still got a crack at the brass ring.
P.S. your captcha while witty does discriminate against the color blind!
This is a very good book that explores a large swath of the convolution between genius-level breakthrough, and master-level development.
I wonder if the data is further skewed because students don’t have an "official" opportunity to do research until much later in life. It is taking longer and longer for a student to have enough understanding of their discipline to come up with something original and have the funding to pursue it.
Exponentially growing knowledge and the increasing scope of science is a double edged sword
Hopefully the Hackerspaces and open projects like Open PCR, Makerbot, etc will make it possible again for disruptive innovation to occur with younger people.