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The Stroke of Genius Strikes Later In Life Than It Used To 162

InfiniteZero writes with this quote from MSNBC: "Einstein once said, 'A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so.' That peak age has shifted considerably, a new study found, with 48 being prime time for physicists. ... For instance, in physics, in the early 20th century, a rise in young scientists generating prize-winning work coincided with the development of quantum mechanics. In fact, in 1923, the proportion of physicists who did their breakthrough work by age 30 peaked at 31 percent. Those who did their best work by age 40 peaked in 1934 at 78 percent. The proportion of physics laureates producing Nobel Prize-winning work under age 30 or 40 then declined throughout the rest of the century."
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The Stroke of Genius Strikes Later In Life Than It Used To

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  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @08:30PM (#37993352)

    Maybe it has more to do with 2 things:

    a) Younger people accept change faster. In the early 20th Century, Physics was fundamentally changing for the first time since Newton came onto the scene. It's often said that scientific revolutions are less the revolution part and more that acceptance comes as the older, unaccepting generations die out. Einstein himself was out of the game by quantum mechanics because he refuse to accept it.

    So maybe the previously young age has less to do with mental agility of age and more about locking yourself into a preconceived box. Of course, science can have only so many revolutions, and as it shifts to evolutions, experience and age will start winning out... until the next revolution.

    b) Younger people used to have less familial commitments. They often still do. Means more free time to devote to breakthroughs. But as the last century progress, people are definitely having less and less kids, and divorce is also on the rise - so older people may get the same benefits, time-wise....

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde