"Solar-type star" is meaningful here because first extrasolar planets we discovered orbit the pulsar.
I remember learning about our own solar system and it was largely "here is how we got to here" but now it's more about these phases each planet experienced and maybe will experience. Saturn's rings being a sort of "recent" phenomenon and such. Geological activity being a sort of on and off thing depending on various events, even orotundities for life cycling on and off.
The first two are Saint Lucia and Luxemburg, which have 180k and 600k inhabitants respectively.
Among the bigger countries, Switzerland has the most per capita Nobel prizes.
Interestingly, UK is on number 9 on that list and has a significantly bigger population than the top 8 (I'd say 10x more people than the average top 8 country). Super impressive. Of course, Germany (14) and the US (16) are also not half bad, especially since the US has 5x the population of UK.
For one, the total timeframe of the Nobel Prize is more than a hundred years, and even for individual prizes the time between contribution and award is usually decades. That's a lot of time for possible change in a country.
On top of that, there had been repeated criticism (that has been in part acknowledged by the Swedish Academy) that the Nobel Prize is too eurocentric, so the statistics will obviously be skewed.
However, the US has more per capita prizes than the EU, so not sure that that critisicm is warranted.
Anyways, I also wouldn't draw any conclusions about "the current status of a country" based on number of nobel laureates. Having said that, I do find the statistics interesting, and I'm sure there are some conclusions to be drawn from it.
There probably are papers analyzing this statistic further - if anyone has some reading recomendations, send them my way :-)
And thanks for bringing up how racial equality is a European tradition. How could we forget historical eurocentric bastions of equality, like the study of Phrenology and Kipling's "The White Man's Burden".
There were many celebrated anti-racist movement leaders across the world and in various time periods. The most well-known of these would be the Prophet Muhammad, who famously in one of his last sermons declared "Surely all of mankind – from the time of Adam until our time – are like the teeth of a comb (all equal to one another) and there is no greatness for an Arab over a non-Arab or a non-Arab over an Arab and no greatness for a red-skinned person over a black-skinned person or a black-skinned person over a red-skinned person, except due to one’s consciousness of God."
It's just a fun little statistic for micro-bragging rights.
As someone from another tiny country with self esteem issues, I completely get it.
Incentivizing companies like Google to set up shop in Switzerland of course is related to the low taxes, but also access to talent with great technical schools (ETH, EPFL). Furthermore, companies know that people would love to relocate to Switzerland to work for them.
This in turn leads to more money for research, academia and education in general. It's virtuous cylce.
Obviously, there are many more factors. And yes, maybe it helped that there was the bank secracy law and criminals and the Germans during WWII parked their money in Switzerland, but I would say that's not the determining factor.
Disclaimer: I'm Swiss, so probably biased.
> One of the consequences of this practice is that nationality information is sometimes controversial or confusing. For example, Elizabeth Blackburn, who is also an Australian citizen but is listed in the Nobellists only as an American with an Australian birthplace. In the case of prizewinners who stood between several nations, such as the Alsatian-born Albert Schweitzer, for example, the indication of only one nationality is also perceived as insufficient or, depending on the point of view of the observer, wrong. Another reason for discrepancies are the numerous state changes in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some prizewinners, for example, mention the place of birth with the nationality of the time and today, while others mention only one of the two. An example of this is Günter Blobel, whose birthplace lies in Poland today but is listed as a place in Germany. Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, which then belonged to the Ottoman Empire and is now the capital of Northern Macedonia. However, her family was Albanian, which is why she is often seen as an Albanian. However, none of the three states is mentioned in the official list of notices, but the place of birth is shown as belonging to Turkey, presumably because this was already a common name for the Ottoman Empire before the foundation of the Turkish state. Her nationality is declared Indian because she was an Indian citizen at the time of the award.
> Since the Nobel Peace Prize has already been awarded several times to laureates who have worked towards a solution to a conflict over the nationality of a region, the indication of nationality already runs the risk of being regarded as tendentious. For example, when the 14th Dalai Lama Tendzin Gyatsho was awarded the nationality Tibet was declared, although this state only exists in the form of an exile government. In 1998 and 1976, the state received awards for its efforts to settle the conflict in Northern Ireland. Here the Nobel Institute chose Northern Ireland as its nationality, although this region was never an independent state and no party to the conflict sought to establish one. The Nobelstiftung, on the other hand, names the United Kingdom as its nationality after its current formal affiliation.
If Princeton/Newyork/Boston declared independence tomorrow those new countries would be at the top of the list too.
Where cash concentrates Science happens.
Switzerland has relatively strict immigration policies, always maintaining a layer of separation from the EU/EEA and other developed countries though that's less true for EU/EEA countries today, but it still has nowhere near the freedom of movement from other countries that is the case between the rest of the US and Princeton/NY/Boston, or the rest of the UK and London, etc.
The Bay Area/SV dominates tech because of a bunch of decisions made starting around the 1850s to turn California into a world player.
In the 1850s there was the Gold Rush, which was unplanned. Around 1900 the southern CA oil boom made it the largest oil producing state in the US.
Thanks for pointing out the oil boom I left that out because I forgot
I wonder if there is a self-fulfilling prophecy about that. The 96% statistic hints that because men are traditionally associated with the hard sciences, men typically win the Nobel prizes. What percentage of senior scientists and researchers are women, I wonder, and does that percentage correspond with their representation at the Nobel prizes?
Second, maybe jews are on the list because of that pressure put on them to succeed constantly. Would be interesting study.
I think it's not paywalled if you don't live in the UK.
Be wary of any "per-capita" statistics. Statistically, averages work only if distributions are symmetric. Mean is a poor indicator of an asymmetric distribution.
So, the question is - Do we have symmetric distributions for talent within each geographical area? We see similar arguments in sport but the assumption of symmetrical (normal) distributions for talent within a geographical area is most likely not the case . There are many other factors like income, population density and "coaching" centers that lead to existence of asymmetric distributions. Hence, "per capita" statistics are quite meaningless and mask the real factors that contribute to Nobel Prize winners.
Primarily, the proportion of GDP to research and scientific activity are a better measure to compare countries against . That ensures that most predictive factors are accounted for.
I'm not really sure what you mean by that but I don't think you're correct. The law of large numbers applies to any distribution with finite first moment.
You're probably right in that factors like wealth (and wealth distribution rather than per-capita wealth) affect a country's scientific output. But your stats argument is a bit wobbly :)
Can you explain, in context to what I said - what exactly is incorrect? I am very well versed with the theory of Law of Large numbers. The question is - "Why does the Law of Large Numbers tell us that per capita is a the right metric to compare Nobel Prize output of different countries?"
No attribution is perfect, but they might still be useful.
For instance, this prize tells you that Switzerland, the UK and the US (or more specifically Geneva, Cambridge and Princeton) seem to be doing something right and that it might be a good idea to change your university system a little in their direction.
Any way you attribute this has some problems, as does trying to condense it to one country. Still just because something is not perfect does not mean it is not useful.
For example, France and Germany have very different systems and culture and you see that reflected in Nobel prizes and Fields medals. At that point you can then discuss which differences are "good" or "bad" by which metric.
But yeah, I agree. One fun example:
I am Faroese. On a technicality, Faroe Islands _could_ be considered the highest rank, at 1 laureate for a population of 49,489.
Niels Finsen was born in the Faroe Islands to Icelandic and Danish parents. His higher education and scientific studies were conducted in Denmark.
So an ethnically Icelandic-Dane, Faroese-born, who studied in Denmark.
Does this count as a Faroese Nobel Laureate?
"In Faroese, the name appears as Føroyar. Oyar represents the plural of oy, older Faroese for "island". Due to sound changes, the modern Faroese word for island is oyggj. The first element, før, may reflect an Old Norse word fær (sheep), although this analysis is sometimes disputed because Faroese now uses the word seyður (from Old Norse sauðr) to mean "sheep". Another possibility is that the Irish monks, who settled the island around 625, had already given the islands a name related to the Gaelic word fearrann, meaning "land" or "estate". This name could then have been passed on to the Norwegian settlers, who then added oyar (islands). The name thus translates as either "Islands of Sheep" or "Islands of Fearrann".
In Danish, the name Færøerne contains the same elements, though øerne is the definite plural of ø (island).
In English, it may be seen as redundant to say the Faroe Islands, since the oe comes from an element meaning "island". Most notably in the BBC Shipping Forecast, where the waters around the islands are called Faeroes. The name is also sometimes spelled "Faeroe"."
german won nobel prize -> germans are smart -> im german -> i must be smart
If we looked at science and literature only the results would look different. Obviously, assuming the main point of this ranking is to measure a favourable ecosystem for science and literature.
It's become a politicized award rather than merit.
Ignore and move on.
Here’s yesterday’s article for the Nobel in Medicine:
In recent years the nobel committee has been grouping unrelated prizes in the same field.
For example the parasitology prize a few years ago for treating two different parasite diseases (roundworm/malaria).
I think its a good thing. It takes two similar discoveries, neither of which are big enough to warrant a solo prize and combines them to give credit to a field which has made advances. I was working in a parasitology department at the time and people were losing their minds about how awesome it was that the field was acknowledged on a world stage.
I remember when the Higgs was confirmed at CERN, there was a lot of discussion over who (if anyone) should get the prize for that. CERN has something like 2500 permanent, scientific employees, plus 12000 users. So is it appropriate to give the prize to someone who is ultimately a project manager or administrator?
It's an interesting question as science moves from a few great thinkers to huge projects with 100+ contributors...
But as early as 1961 Hofstadter and Mössbauer split the prize for two separate things that can be grouped together as "well... nuclear physics" in the same way as these prizes are "... SPACE!".
It's happened a lot in the past. Often the split allows them to cover two things that are only really related on a superficial level. Just going through the list:
1963: Wigner (symmetry) / Goeppert-Meyer + Jensen (nuclear shells)
1970: Alfvén (MHD) / Néel (anti/ferromagnetism in solid state)
1973: Esaki + Giaever (semi/superconductors) / Josephson (Josephson effect)
1978: Kapitsa (low T) / Penzias+Wilson (CMB)
1983: Chandrasekhar (stellar evolution) / Fowler (nuclear abundances)
1986: Ruska (electron microscope) / Binnig+Rohrer (scanning-tunneling microscope)
1989: Ramsey (masers) / Dehmelt+Paul (ion traps)
1994: Brokhouse (neutron spectroscopy) / Shull (neutron diffraction). This one is weird because they also get a joint citation for using neutrons to study materials.
2000: Alferov+Kroemer (heterostructures) / Kilby (integrated circuit)
2002: Davis Jr.+Koshiba (cosmic neutrinos) / Giacconi (cosmic x-rays)
2005: Glauber (coherent states) / Hall+Hänsch (laser spectroscopy)
2008: Kobayashi+Maskawa (CKM matrix) / Nambu (spontaneous symmetry breaking). I think most physicists I know agree that this one should really have been two prizes, one shared K+M+Cabibbo (C in CKM) and one shared Nambu+Goldstone.
2009: Kao (fiber optics) / Boyle+Smith (CCDs)
2018: Askin (optical tweezers) / Mourou+Strickland (chirped pulse amplification)
It was set up by the Swedish central bank to free ride on the good reputation of the actual prizes. Their motivation was to push economic policies beneficial to themselves (mainly promoting the political independence of central banks in the beginning).
The 'table of hard science' according to Alfred Nobel also includes medicine (not science, but we'll let it pass), literature (really not science), and peace (really really not science).
Anyway, the Nobel Prize for economics is not actually a Nobel prize anyway.
Some of it is hard science, with peer-reviewed papers, experiments and statistics. There is even some overlap with chemistry.
Some of it is engineering. Doctors are closer to engineers than they are to scientists. They have a problem (a sick patient who needs help), constraints (time, availability, cost, ...), tools (drugs, diagnosis tools, ...), and need to turn all that into a solution.
Some of it is craftsmanship. Surgeons are like mechanics for the human body, a job requiring dexterity and practical thinking.
Some of it is care. With nurses needing as much empathy as they need practical skills.
It's also probably the most important science, since it deals with issues central to human life and prosperity.
I mean, I love exoplanets too, but they'll never affect how we understand society and change the understanding and direction of human civilization.
I agree. I meant to make two separate claims.
> The attempts at this in economics put it at the absolute low end of the soft sciences, as far as I can tell.
Economics has many subfields. The major division is between microeconomics and macroeconomics.
I think a lot of the "soft science" reputation the field has comes from the Macro side. This is a very tough field to study, since the study object (the world economy) is sentient, extremely intelligent, and adapts to any new findings. It can certainly be seen as a partially failed science as a result.
Macro gets the headlines, but the Micro side is what I'm impressed by. We have an enormous amount of knowledge accumulated over the last 200 years, and understand society and markets immensely more than before Adam Smith started thinking about this stuff.
Every science relies an math.
"The first peak shows that the universe is geometrically flat, i.e. two parallel lines will never meet."
Can somebody explain this, please?
Moreover, the avalanche of exoplanets their discovery heralded has changed questions fundamental to astronomy like "Why is our Solar System this particular way" into questions about ensembles, as in "In what proportion of planetary systems do we get rocky inner planets in the habitable zone and outer gas giants".