See Inside

# Global Distribution of Nobel Prizes Reflects Great Shifts in Modern History [Infographic]

The global distribution of Nobel Prizes traces a shift from Europe to the U.S.

• Share
• Email

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN ONLINE
More on Nobel Prize history at ScientificAmerican.com/jul2012/graphic-science

### 3 Comments

Add Comment
View
1. 1. Bob Grumman 07:59 PM 6/29/12

I'd be interested to know what percentage of Nobelists in science were theorists, or mainly theorists. Very few, is my impression--and all in physics?

Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
2. 2. Bob Grumman 08:01 PM 6/29/12

I'd also be interested in where the winners of mathematics' big award, the name of which I can't remember, were from. Seems to me it should be part of round-ups like this.

Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
3. 3. Juergen Schmidhuber 10:52 AM 7/8/12

Unfortunately, these graphics are a bit misleading. "Each colored bar represents one or more laureates affiliated with institutions in a given country." So a laureate with 1/4 of a Nobel prize may create as much visual impact as a laureate with a full prize. The main problem is that the average prize fraction per laureate has shrunk over time. In the beginning of the 20th century, many science laureates got a full prize. Today, however, most get only 1/2 or 1/3 or 1/4. As a consequence, there has been a recent inflation of Nobel laureates. This distorts your graph, biasing its visual impact towards recent decades, and in particular, towards the US, and against Europe. Perhaps not exactly what an unbiased science magazine should publish?

To get unbiased graphics, do the obvious: represent each laureate by a bar whose size is proportional to his/her Nobel prize fraction (1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4). Perhaps your artists can quickly fix this.

In 2010 I published a report that takes all of the above into account, for each Nobel Prize type, both by country of birth, and by country of citizenship at the moment of the award:

<A HREF=http://www.idsia.ch/~juergen/nobelshare.html>Evolution of National Nobel Prize Shares in the 20th Century.</A> arXiv:1009.2634v1 [physics.hist-ph]. http://www.idsia.ch/~juergen/nobelshare.html

This paper also briefly addresses your topic US v EU: "As of 2009, Nobel Prize counts of major players by citizenship are: EU >270, USA ~150, Asia >30. Extrapolating current trends, the European share may fall below 50% within a few decades."

Kind regards,

Jürgen Schmidhuber
Director of the Swiss AI Lab IDSIA, Lugano
Professor of Artificial Intelligence, Univ. Lugano
http://www.idsia.ch/~juergen/

Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this

### Add a Comment

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Click one of the buttons below to register using an existing Social Account.

## More from Scientific American

ADVERTISEMENT
• Scientific American Magazine | 41 minutes ago

### Teenage Flu Scientist Shares His Recipe for Prizewinning Research

• Scientific American Magazine | 41 minutes ago

### December 2013 Advances: Additional Resources

• @ScientificAmerican | 15 hours ago

### Can We Harness Disruption to Improve Our World's Future?

• News | 15 hours ago

### Federal Flood Maps Left New York Unprepared for Sandy, and FEMA Knew It

• News | 17 hours ago

## Follow Us:

See what we're tweeting about

More »

## Free Newsletters

Get the best from Scientific American in your inbox

Powered By:

## Latest from SA Blog Network

• ### Physics Week in Review: December 7, 2013

Cocktail Party Physics | 3 hours ago
• ### Wonderful Things: The Pugnacious, Alien-esque Skeleton Shrimp

The Artful Amoeba | 13 hours ago
• ### Can We Harness Disruption to Improve Our World's Future?

STAFF
@ScientificAmerican | 15 hours ago
• ### British Storm Brings Up History's First Work of Social Media

Plugged In | 16 hours ago
• ### Rolling on Wheels That Aren t Round

Observations | 16 hours ago
ADVERTISEMENT

## Science Jobs of the Week

### Email this Article

Global Distribution of Nobel Prizes Reflects Great Shifts in Modern History [Infographic]: Scientific American Magazine

X

### Give a Gift & Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as \$14.99

X

X

### Account Linking

###### Welcome, . Do you have an existing ScientificAmerican.com account?

Yes, please link my existing account with for quick, secure access.

No, I would like to create a new account with my profile information.

X

Are you sure?

X

### Institutional Access

It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com. To access this article in its entirety through site license access, click below.

X

X

X