April 28, 2017

Age doesn’t matter in a physics lab. Credit: The New York Public Library Digital Collections

In science, youth is not the Holy Grail - despite what you might have heard about young geniuses. 

Laszlo Barabasi, a professor of network science at Northeastern University, says scientists may produce meaningful work earlier in their careers not because they’re smarter, but because they face more pressure to succeed.

Three Takeaways:

  • Scientists don’t get better in their field after making a big discovery, according to Barabasi. “You don’t see success coming,” he says, “nor do we learn from it.”
  • Scientists are more likely to make a breakthrough earlier in their careers because they publish more often, says Barabasi. He compares it to gambling: “Think of scientific discoveries as playing the lottery or throwing a dice; so as long as you keep buying tickets, you have a chance of winning the lottery.”
  • In science, Barabasi explains, content trumps fame. “Fame brings you visibility,” he says, adding, “It’s the value of what you put in front of me that really matters.”

More reading:

Sci and Tech, Kara Miller, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi

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