For how long will the USA remain the Nobel Prize leader?

May 10, 2018, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Nobel Prize productivity chart by country: US, UK, Germany, France. Credit: Claudius Gros, Goethe University

Since first being awarded in 1901, most Nobel Prizes for science have gone to the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany and France. An empirical study by Professor Claudius Gros from the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the Goethe University in Frankfurt has now shown that the Nobel Prize productivity in these countries is primarily determined by two factors: a long-term success rate, and periods during which each country has been able to win an especially large number of Nobel Prizes.

For the study, Nobel Prizes for physics, chemistry and medicine were assigned proportionately, since up to three scientists can share the . The success rates were calculated on the basis of population figures. For France and Germany, the periods of increased scientific creativity occurred around 1900, whereas for the USA it occurred in the second half of the 20th century.

"The U.S. era is approaching its end," states Claudius Gros. "Since its zenith in the 1970s, U.S. Nobel Prize productivity has already declined by a factor of 2.4." According to his calculations, a further decline is foreseeable. "Our model predicts that starting in 2025, the productivity of the U.S. will be below that of Germany, and from 2028, below that of France as well."

With a nearly constant, very high success rate per capita, Great Britain occupies a special position with regard to Nobel Prizes. It remains uncertain, however, whether Great Britain will be able to maintain this success, especially in view of the increasing industrialization of research.

"National research advancement can undoubtedly also be successful independent of Nobel Prize productivity," Claudius Gros stresses. "Especially because new areas of research such as the computer sciences—a typical U.S. domain—are not included." It therefore remains open whether the decline in Nobel Prize is cause for concern, or merely an expression of a new orientation toward more promising research fields.

Explore further: Nobel chemistry prize to be announced in Stockholm

More information: Claudius Gros: An empirical study of the per capita yield of science Nobel Prizes: Is the US era coming to an end?, in: Royal Society Open Science (2018) rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/5/5/180167

Claudius Gros: Pushing the complexity barrier: diminishing returns in the sciences, in: Complex Systems 21, 183 (2012). arxiv.org/abs/1209.2725

Related Stories

Nobel chemistry prize to be announced in Stockholm

October 10, 2012

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will announce the winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday, capping this year's science awards before the Nobel spotlight moves to literature and peace.

Recommended for you

How coral bleaching threatens Caribbean communities

February 21, 2019

Climate change has fueled coral reef bleaching throughout the tropics, with negative consequences for reef ecosystems and the people who depend on them. A new study finds that in the Caribbean, independent island nations ...

'Flying bulldog': world's largest bee refound

February 21, 2019

The world's largest bee—a giant insect roughly the size of a human thumb—has been rediscovered in a remote part of Indonesia in its first sighting in nearly 40 years, researchers said Thursday.

Israeli spacecraft aims to make history by landing on Moon

February 21, 2019

A rocket will take off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Thursday night carrying Israel's Beresheet spacecraft, which aims to make history twice: as the first private-sector landing on the Moon, and the first from the Jewish ...

Sculpting stable structures in pure liquids

February 21, 2019

Oscillating flow and light pulses can be used to create reconfigurable architecture in liquid crystals. Materials scientists can carefully engineer concerted microfluidic flows and localized optothermal fields to achieve ...

6 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

psychotherapist
5 / 5 (1) May 10, 2018
The whole idea of the nobel prize is so subjective, who even cares. After drone strike obama won the peace prize, then nuke-you-over-twitter Trump might win it this time. I guess at least he squashed Isis. NK nuked themselves into peace, lol.

Well prove me wrong, the people who have been awarded the other prizes, the non-BS prizes like physics and whatever, they are really leaders in their field and the nobel prize really matters right?
Doug_Nightmare
not rated yet May 10, 2018
How long? Until PC affirmative action overwhelms the committee's good sense. Jordan Peterson for Peace Prize!
ddaye
not rated yet May 10, 2018
The US decline started at the same time as the Republican Revolution. There's no end in sight for that either.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) May 10, 2018
How long? Until PC affirmative action overwhelms the committee's good sense. Jordan Peterson for Peace Prize!

Looks like it's overwhelmed you...
Dan12182
not rated yet May 14, 2018
"The US decline started at the same time as the Republican Revolution," which was in 1861. That is a long time to maintain a sour grapes mentality.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet May 14, 2018
"The US decline started at the same time as the Republican Revolution," which was in 1861. That is a long time to maintain a sour grapes mentality.
You mean back when the southern democrats were forced to give up their slaves? Republicans were still fighting dems like Lester Maddox and George Wallace over that same thing in the 1960s.

And dems are still enslaving minority minds now to get themselves reelected by making thugs heroes and cops villains.

Dems - always eager to have others do their dirty work, get their hands dirty, pick their cotton, mow their lawns, clean their health clubs, etc.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.