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Genius Can Strike After Forty

If you are over 40 and haven’t come up with the next great idea yet, don’t worry. A new study from researchers at The Ohio State University has found that the average age of scientists making significant breakthroughs in the fields of chemistry, physics and medicine has increased steadily from 1901 to 2008. 

The study investigated the ages of prize-winning Nobel Laureates and determined that by the year 2000, great achievements before age 30 were rare. “There’s this iconic image of the young genius doing breakthrough work,” said Bruce Weinberg, co-author of the study and professor of economics at Ohio State. “But that’s not the universal pattern, especially today.”

The field of physics had the most pronounced change. The average age of Nobel Prize winners was 36.9 earlier in the century compared to 50.3 in recent years. Weinberg suggests that longer educational and training patterns, along with changes to foundational knowledge within scientific disciplines may be factors causing the shift.

To read the full study, visit http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/11/03/1102895108.

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