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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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« Way Too Much Hydrofluoric Acid | Main | The 2012 Nobel In Chemistry. Yes, Chemistry. »

October 9, 2012

The Age of Nobel Chemistry Laureates

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Posted by Derek

In anticipation of tomorrow's Nobel Prize, here's a graph of the average age of Nobel chemistry laureates. (Link via Stuart Cantrill). It runs about like you'd figure - lots of people in their 50s, which should make some of us feel good, I suppose (!) I'd like to see this charted over time to see if there are any trends that way. Update - I should scroll down more! They have that data at the link above. Note also that chemistry is still one of the "younger" disciplines by average age. . . We already know a bit about changes in the ages of grantees and highly-cited papers; it would be interesting to see if that shows up in the Nobel data as well. . .

Comments (10) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Who Discovers and Why


1. My 0.02 on October 9, 2012 10:20 AM writes...


So you are not going to run a predication for this year's prize?

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2. Morten G on October 9, 2012 10:35 AM writes...

"I'd like to see this charted over time to see if there are any trends that way. We already know a bit about changes in the ages of grantees and highly-cited papers; it would be interesting to see if that shows up in the Nobel data as well. . ."

You do realise that you linked to that graph in your own blog post, yeah?
"Average age of Nobel Laureates during the past century"

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3. Morten G on October 9, 2012 10:40 AM writes...

The interesting trend in my eyes in the increase in number of people award the chemistry prize each year. 8-13 per decade from 1901 to 1960 and then an almost even increase by two per decade from 1951 to 2010.

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4. patentgeek on October 9, 2012 10:46 AM writes...

It'd be interesting to compare age trends between chemist and physicist Nobel laureates, regarding when their top work was done. Physics, especially theoretical and high energy physics, is famously a young person's game, while chemists are known (at least anecdotally) for frequently improving their game well into later years. Another consoling thought for those of us past the half-century mark, perhaps.

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5. My 0.02 on October 9, 2012 11:12 AM writes...


50 is the new 30.

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6. Curious Wavefunction on October 9, 2012 11:52 AM writes...

I think it's best to be an economist if you really want to stand a chance of winning a Nobel Prize even in your later years. Of course in the case of the economics Nobel, "later years" might translate to "dead".

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7. Sucker on October 9, 2012 2:31 PM writes...

High energy physics is now (thankfully) quite dead as demonstrated by the winner of this years nobel prize for physics.

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8. Petros on October 9, 2012 4:11 PM writes...

Physics might be younger person's chance but the youngest physics laureate, Lawrence Bragg, won the prize in 1915 (at 25). I think Brian Josephson at 33 in 1973 was the next youngest.

Contrast 79 year old John Gurdon's share of the Medicine Prize yesterday for work done in 1962!

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9. ddddddd on October 9, 2012 5:19 PM writes...

Am I crazy or is the youngest Nobel laureate not William L Bragg at the age of 25?

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10. Mad Scientist on October 10, 2012 3:58 PM writes...

Rats, I'm not on the Nobel list for this year.
I'll have to try again upon my next reincarnation.

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