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Are young scientists becoming stupid?

By Philip Ball  

Famous scientists are making their big discoveries ever later in their careers. A study in 2011 found that the average age at which Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine conducted their key work has risen from mid-to-late 30s before 1905 to 45-50 after 1985. Even more strikingly, whereas one in five laureates pre-1905 made their breakthrough discoveries before they hit 30, now almost none do so.

There are many ways to interpret this. It is good news that scientists are no longer considered past it by middle age, and that the window of creativity is perhaps wider than it…

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